How To Save Money Feeding Treats to Your Pets

a catGiving treats to your cat or dog can become expensive as they’re not always cheap to buy. If you don’t mind spending a bit of extra time and effort, you may consider making your own homemade pet food as “treats” every once in a while in order to save money and reward your pet. This can work out cheaper and at the very least, it allows you to take some control over what your pet is eating. However, make sure you do your research to make sure you are not overfeeding your pet a certain treat (this could be bad for the pet health-wise and might make them unwilling to eat their normal pet food, which contains some very essential nutrients to keep them healthy). Here are some recipes to try:


Here are a few ideas for some very delicious homemade cat food recipes for those once-in-a-while treats:

Chicken and sardine: For this recipe, you’ll need 1 can of sardines in olive oil, 1/4 cup of whole grain breadcrumbs, 1 egg (beaten), 1/2 tablespoon of brewer’s yeast and 2 cooked chicken drumsticks (with the bones removed). Drain the sardines (keeping some of the olive oil in reserve) and mash, mix in the breadcrumbs, egg and brewer’s yeast and coat evenly across the chicken drumsticks. Heat it over olive oil in a frying pan and fry the drumsticks until golden brown, making sure to turn them regularly so that they’re evenly cooked.

Mince: For this, you’ll need 100g of mince, 3 teaspoons of rice and 1 teaspoon of broth or gravy. Fry the mince until it’s brown, add the rice (with a little water if you want more of a soup consistency) and stir in the broth or gravy. If your cat isn’t a fan of mince, you can use diced chicken in its place.

Tuna patties: For this treat, you’ll need 1 can of tuna, 1/2 cup of boiled rice and 1/4 cup of pureed liver. Drain the tuna and mix everything together. Make small balls out of the mixture and shape them into patties. Store them in the fridge until use.

NOTE: Make sure you do not overfeed your cat these treats, especially fish. Overfeeding fish to your cat can cause some harmful health problems.


Here are some recipe ideas for homemade dog treats:

Cheese bites: For this, you’ll need 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese, 1 cup of wheat flour, 1 tablespoon of softened butter and 1/2 cup of milk. Mix the flour and cheese, add the butter and gradually add the milk until a stiff dough starts to form. Knead the dough for a few minutes, roll out to thickness of around 1/4 of an inch, cut into shapes and put on an ungreased baking tray. Bake for around 15 minutes before leaving to cool.

Casserole: You’ll need a cup of boiled poultry (chopped), 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice, 1/2 cup of mixed vegetables (cooked) and 3 or 4 tablespoons of chicken broth (not salted). If you’d prefer to use salmon instead of poultry, leave out the chicken broth.

Feeding your pet home-made treats can be cheaper than buying commercial pet treats, especially if you were going to be using some of the ingredients for your own meals. However, make sure to check with your pet’s vet if you’re planning to make the switch from commercial pet treats as it can be quite a radical change and won’t always be in your pet’s best interests, especially if they have certain health issues that need to be taken into account. Make sure you get a list of foods and condiments that dogs and cats should not eat before preparing homemade food for them as some food items can make them very ill or even kill them. If the vet agrees that it’s fine to move on to homemade pet food (at least for treats), it can be useful to mix some commercial dog or cat food in with your homemade offerings at first to help your pet make a more successful transition between the two.

If you have any other recipes or resources, please share them with everyone in the comments below!

(photo credit: scaredy_kat)

  • gina

    I sometimes save the leftover meat and veggie scraps and then boil up some rice. Then I mix it all up and my dog loves it!

  • Claudia

    I am disappointed in this article. I have had cats all my life. Cats should not eat fish. Fish causes kidney stones in cats and if not passed, the cat can die. Kidney stones as we all know are also extremelt painful.

    In addition, cats should be eating a diet of mainly wet foods that contain a good amoutn of water. Cats dont have a natural thirst because in the wild, cats get their moisture from the prey they eat. Thus domesticated cats need to drink a lot and they just dont thus the wet foods must have water.

    Canned cat foods that are holistic/ natural are the best to feed your cat especially because they contain the moisture and taurine, an ESSENTIAL nutrient for a cat to live.

    I think that for some aspects of our lifes we can try and save money but for our animals, this is not an area where we should skimp on quality or trying to make it ourselves unless we REALLY know what we are doing. To save money, buy food in bulk but not that much that it will spoil.

    • Sally Aquire

      Thanks for your comment, Claudia.

      I understand what you’re saying but most of these ideas are more treat-based than everyday foods so the pets wouldn’t be eating them in large quantities or even every day of the week, and I assumed that readers would realize that these recipes wouldn’t make up the bulk of any pet’s diet.

      The post does specifically mention consulting a professional before feeding non-commercial cat or dog food in case it’s not right for them.

    • Sally Aquire

      Claudia, I made some changes to the intro and linked to an article specifically on the dangers of overfeeding fish to cats. Definitely do not want to understate these risks and apologize if it was not clear to begin with. Hope this addresses any of your concerns and really appreciate the feedback!

    • Winston

      Looks like you really know your stuff. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Everything you have said in your comments about cat’s diet is new to me. I always assumed that cats love fish. My grandpa used to own a cat and he always fed him fish and rice. Now I know, it was a huge mistake. Next time if I ever have the chance of meeting someone who owns a cat or multiple cats, I will apply the information that you imparted with us.

      • Jmaerusack

        Please reconsider what you posted. As you can see by my comments to Claudia fish can be good or bad depending on the type of fish, and I really don’t want people to get the wrong idea. Just so you know I have been researching pet nutrition for months and still am. My hope is to create a cookbook for pet owners to create dishes for their pets and I would hate that work to be undone before it even began.

    • Jmaerusack

      Your information is not entirely accurate. A self-proclaimed professional pet nutritionist was noted in a certain vet’s book of Natural cures as saying that Mackerel is a very good fish to feed your cat. However this person also stated that tuna is not good for your pets, especially tuna that is used in cat foods which is the dark part of the fish while humans eat the white part. She stated that tuna is “like crack” for your cat and companies specifically use this dark tuna because they know that cats can’t resist the taste. But as I said before she stated that Mackerel is good for your cats. Also I’m aware that some fish will give your cats kidney stones, however this is almost always due to the high concentration of mercury that can be found in many but not all fish, tuna being the number one suspect of such a thing.

      Also you stated that “domesticated cats need to drink a lot…” this is not accurate in the lest. I know for a fact that domesticated cats need approximately half a liter of water as their daily requirement, kittens needing more than adults. Thus while kittens do need to be fed at least one can of moist food or equivalent a day, adults do very well with dry food which will last a lot longer in the bowl than wet food will.

      Lastly, while it is ideal to find foods with Taurine in it, Taurine is an amino acid that THE BODY CAN MAKE ITSELF from the proteins found in animal meat and in egg yolk. So while it is okay to feed your dog or cat chicken breast or certain fish, Taurine itself can be found in heart or liver, which can be purchased at your local butchers.

      Armed with this information as well as always being on the lookout for more, you or anyone else is capable of creating dishes for their pets, as I already have. All you need to do is look for information on what vegetables and other nutrients are best for your pet as I currently am doing. Thus far I have found that carrots, sweet potatoes (not white), peas, rolled oats, soy milk (not cows milk), and crushed egg shell are all good for cats which are much picker eaters than dogs (no offense to dog owners).

      I would also like to note that after two days of feeding my 9 week old kittens a puree of chicken breast, peas, carrots, and turkey gravy, their coats were shiner than I’ve ever seen them on canned food. I hope that everyone reading this now has a better understanding of animal nutrition.

      • Brooklynbrenda

        I have dogs now but it my cat days I was told by my vet that dry food was preferred because wet food commonly contains “ash” (???) and this is eventually a problem…just sayin

  • Mac

    Whoah, these gourmet pet meals sound like they could be eaten by people too. Never thought to cook a dinner for our pets in the past. But I’d have to wonder which is healthier? What kind of food is really the most beneficial for a cat or dog?

    • Winston

      Heheh, you have to keep up with the time. Pets are considered part of the family and they should eat well just like the rest of us. There are even restaurants out there that cater only to cats/dogs.

      If I ever get a pet, I don’t think I can cook a meal for him because I have trouble cooking one for myself, let alone others.

  • Laura Pagles

    There are a handful of homemade pet diets that can be very beneficial for pets, especially those with allergies. Sally’s right, consult with your vet. But with a little research, you can make batches of food that by eliminating fillers (and who knows what else, remember the melamine poisonings of a few years ago?), more closely mimic the animal’s diet in the wild.

    Thanks, Sally for hopefully spurring some interest and awareness.

    Laura Pagles

  • Tabatha

    “I assumed that readers would realize that these recipes wouldn’t make up the bulk of any pet’s diet.”

    I didn’t get that from this article, particularly since you mention taking complete control of your pets diet and single out one recipe as a treat instead of a meal. Perhaps you can add a note right at the top?

    • Sally Aquire

      Hey Tabatha,

      Just made some changes to the intro and added some other content to make sure I was not understressing the potential risks involved.

      Hope this helps!


  • Erik Folgate

    Hey All, as the editor, I just wanted to throw my two cents in here since there has been some confusion and controversy surrounding this article. Two points to mention here:

    1. Even the original article mentioned that we advised people to always consult with their vet before preparing homemade meals for their cats/dogs.

    2. These recipe ideas are meant to be for preparing in bulk and refrigerating/freezing to use over a period of time, rather than cooking your dog or cat a meal every night. That would be silly. The cost savings would come from preparing in bulk and using over a week’s period of time.

    We’ve also made some revisions to clear up any confusion as to the point and direction of the post. Hope that helps!

  • Em D.

    My dog used to love cheese- it’s how we got him to take his pills, just smoosh them into a slice of cheese. The cheese bites look like they would be a good treat.

  • Karmella

    I see Erik’s note there about refrigerating/freezing the bulk of what you make – I just jumped in to say that I’ve made homemade dog treats (they could be eaten by people, I call them “human grade”) and it’s a good idea to preserve them – they don’t last too terribly long, and if you refrigerate or freeze them you extend that time, and reduce risk to your pet as well.

  • David/Yourfinances101

    Were I a pet owner, I would definitely do whatever I could to save.

    Expenses for a pet can be bordering ooutrageous anymore.

  • Jeccica Simpson

    I love this article, I have 4 small long hair chihuahuas. And for me it is costly for pet snacks on top of their monthly food bill. Thanks for the recipes and information. I will be whipping this up for sure, soon!!!

  • Justine

    I have one picky Chihuahua (my avatar) too and he will only eat the most expensive treats of course! I personally save money by buying them online, Amazon is my fave :D