Dog frosting isn't actually very sweet, but plain yogurt is good for dogs and you can add a little peanut butter or honey to make it tastier.

When the holidays roll around, I always try to come up with at least a few homemade gifts for family and friends. I don’t know if these gifts actually save me any money in the long run, but I do know that I have much more fun making things than shopping. I also think that handmade items are often more thoughtful than things you can buy in stores.

The thing is, I’m not particularly crafty. I’m also not that great of a chef. So I try not to be overly ambitious when I search for craft projects and recipes. This year, I learned how to make a simple scarf with a double crochet stitch, and I decided to bake special (but simple) treats for my dog Oreo and all of the canines in my life, of which there are many.

While I have limited knowledge about baking, I do know a thing or two about my dog — what he likes, what he doesn’t like, and the things he shouldn’t eat. Therefore, while perusing allrecipes.com, I chose a recipe that had simple ingredients without a lot of sugar or fat, which dogs really shouldn’t have.

I chose the 5-star recipe “Birthday Bones” and modified it based on several helpful comments in its 293 reviews. I also changed the shape of the treat (from bones to snowflakes and gingerbread men/women) and added a little “dog frosting” to make it fit the season.

Here’s the modified recipe, which I’ll simply call “Holiday dog cookies.” They look quite fancy but only have a few ingredients! And to my relief, Oreo loves them.

Holiday dog cookies

Makes about 40 fairly large treats

Ingredients

  • 2 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter or honey

Materials

  • measuring cup (1 cup)
  • tablespoon
  • rolling pin
  • mixing utensils (whisk and silicone spatula works)
  • greased cookie pans
  • cookie cutters of your preference
  • Large, medium and small mixing bowls
  • Butter knife

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix the flour and baking powder in one bowl.
  3. Mix 1 cup natural peanut butter and the skim milk in a separate bowl.
  4. Slowly mix the flour-powder mixture in with the milk-peanut butter mixture. When all are combined, it should make a nice ball of dough.
  5. Sprinkle flour on a flat surface (cutting board or counter) and roll out half of the dough until it’s uniformly 1/4 of an inch thick. You may need to rub flour on the rolling pin.
  6. Use cookie cutters to cut out your treats and place them on a greased cookie sheet. (You can use butter, oil or shortening to grease the cookie sheet).
  7. Roll out remaining dough, cut out treats and place them on greased cookie sheets.
  8. Continue to gather remaining dough, roll out and cut out treats until you have very little left.
  9. With remaining dough, sculpt a dog bone or interesting shape as a special treat.
  10. Bake treats in the oven for about 10 minutes. Depending on the size of your cut outs, you may need to adjust cooking time.
  11. In a small bowl, mix plain yogurt and 1 tbsp natural peanut butter or honey. The goal is to make it the consistency of frosting. You may want need to add canola oil to make it more runny or flour to make it thicker. Let your dog lick the mixing spoon.
  12. Wait until the treats are cool and coat one side with a thin layer of the yogurt mixture or “dog frosting.” Leave the frosted treats out for about 2 hours for the frosting to dry. But first, give one to your dog, who has patiently been waiting by your side as you make these delicious treats.

After baking the 40-plus treats, I packed them in holiday gift bags and a round snowflake tin as gifts. I then placed them in the fridge because not sure if the dried yogurt needs to be refrigerated or not. I didn’t get a solid answer from the internet, so I’m just playing it safe. (If you’d rather not have to refrigerate these treats, just don’t put the frosting on them!) Of course, now Oreo comes running every time I open the refrigerator door. He knows where his special treats are.

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While you can add to this recipe to make it your own, keep in mind the many foods that are not good for dogs. For example, do not add raisins or chocolate. To learn more, visit my blog posts “Holiday food and decor that can harm your dog” and “Whether naughty or nice, pets may face holiday hazards.”

Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn Sarnacki is a Maine outdoors writer and the author of three Maine hiking guidebooks including “Family Friendly Hikes in Maine.” Find her on Twitter and Facebook @1minhikegirl. You can also...