When you have three 50+ pound spoiled dogs who “need” treats every time they come in from outside, you can really chow through some cookies…

And as we have learned the hard way, simply denying our dogs a treat is not an option or else they will pester you until the end of time. So, in order to help save some money, and add some extra vitamins to their diet, we started alternating our dogs’ treats with fresher options.

Here are three simple and healthy ways for a super-busy, on-a-budget pet owner to spoil their dogs.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Synder the Pitbull, Charlie the Labrador and Henry the PitbullAdding in fresh fruits and vegetables is a great, affordable way to spoil your dogs and also add nutrients and vitamins they might otherwise be missing from their normal diet. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain fiber, antioxidants, iron, tons of vitamins and more.

While some vegetables need to be cooked, like potatoes, most can simply be washed and cut into bite sized pieces. Fruits such as blueberries are an outstanding source of antioxidants and vitamins that most dogs love! The best part is, you don’t even need to cook them. Just grab a handful, wash them off and spoil away! Carrots even act like a toothbrush, scraping off plaque as your dog chews it. Cucumbers are great low-calorie snacks that are also full of helpful vitamins and minerals. The American Kennel Club has a great comprehensive list of fruits and vegetables safe for most dogs. Just remember to avoid grapes, raisins, avocados, mushrooms and onions!

Plain Cooked Chicken

Plain Cooked ChickenIt’s no secret that dogs love chicken, but what you might not know is that chicken is filled with essential vitamins, minerals, fats and amino acids and it’s easy to digest, according to the American Kennel Club.

To make this meat into an affordable treat, boil boneless chicken in plain unseasoned water until fully cooked. Once the meat has been cooled, cut it into treat sized pieces. Refrigerate your chicken bites in an airtight container until treat time. Remember, this is a treat, not a meal; moderation is key, especially for spoiled dogs! You can also save the cooking liquid and freeze it in a tray with chopped carrots, peas, green beans or berries for a nice icy snack!

Do NOT give your dogs cooked bones because they become brittle and can splinter and cause serious damage! You should also avoid processed meats, like bacon.

Human Foods Safe for Pets

While fruits, veggies and meat are definitely important for your dogs, sometimes it’s nice to give them something extra special! The good news is, these foods can be cheap and are easy to give out. Here are a few human foods that, in moderation, are safe for your spoiled dogs to enjoy and will make their tails wag extra hard!

    • Peanut butter, the classic snack and flavor for treats, is always a safe bet. You can put it on fruit, a dog biscuit or even just a spoon; it’s bound to get them excited. Ensure you are using all natural peanut butter without Xylitol, a harmful artificial sweetener.
    • Popcorn is also a fun treat, Unsalted, Unbuttered Popcornjust make sure to leave off the salt and butter. Also, don’t give them unpopped kernels because they can be a choking hazard.
  • Plain, unsweetened yogurt is perfectly fine for spoiled dogs without a dairy sensitivity. The active bacteria can even help their digestive system with probiotics. Freezing yogurt with fruit also makes a great summer snack!

We hope this short list helps the next time you find your cookie jar empty or if you want to explore new ways to treat your pets!

Do your pets like healthy snacks? Tell us in the comments below!

For more information about healthy snacks for pets, visit the American Kennel Club website, or talk to your veterinarian’s office about your pet’s diet. Remember, the amount of treats your pet eats should not exceed 10% of their daily food intake.