Pumpkin for People and Pups
Mmm…. Pumpkin! It’s harvest time for our northern furfriends and the silly season of all things pumpkin (and pumpkin spice), but here in New Zealand we like to enjoy pumpkin all year round. Pumpkin is delicious and nutritious, both for people and dogs. As with all foods, moderation is important. Pumpkin is a high-fibre food that can help with weight management and healthy digestion, including soothing both diarrhoea and constipation, but too much can throw the system out of balance and have the opposite effect. It’s also very high in certain vitamins. Too much of anything is never a good thing.
Prepping Pumpkin for Homemade Dog Treats
Unlike many of the dog-friendly fruits and veggies my foraging beasts nibble in our garden, pumpkin is best shared cooked. I like to roast entire pumpkins and then divide it into small portions and freeze for future use (both for us and for the dogs). It’s easy and efficient to do the prep work all at once and have ready-use pumpkin on hand in the freezer. It’s economical, too! Alternatively, if you’re cooking veggies for a meal, you can also set some aside or save the leftovers for treats, as long as they’re unseasoned.
Fun with Stamped and Shaped Dog Treats
These treats were baked when we were preparing our Halloween posts (and enjoyed well before Halloween, as is the life of a blog dog), so I decided to have a little fun with my custom alphabet stamps. Totally optional, of course! Although I mixed this dough with stamped Halloween treats in mind, it was such a lovely natural orange that I decided to split my batch and make a few special pumpkin shaped dog treats with it as well. I’ve shared more info on those DIY decorating methods below. As for trick vs. treat selection, Oli and Humphrey vote for nibbling both.
Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treat Recipe
Homemade Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dog Treats with Optional Treat Decorating Ideas
Cutting shapes is optional. Not all treat doughs work well for rolling and cutting, but any roll and cut dough can be used to make hand formed treats (ball and flatten), pressed into a pan and cut to size, formed as treat bars, and more. See our simple shortcuts for making baked dog treats for ideas.
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup cooked cooled pumpkin, mashed or pureed
- 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1/4 cup low-sodium stock or other dog-friendly liquid
- Optional: 1 tbsp gelatin powder
- Optional: 1-2 tbsp trim milk powder
- Optional: Turmeric powder to enhance colour (not used in the pictured treats)
- Approximately 1 + 1/2 cups of brown rice flour, plus extra for rolling
Pumpkin gives these treats a natural orange tint, but if you want a stronger colour, you can amp it up with a dog-safe colouring or by adding some more naturally tinted dog treat ingredients, like turmeric powder, for a boost. See the tips below for additional notes on substitutions and optional ingredients.
Making the Treats:
Depending on the type of pumpkin and how it’s prepared (roasting, baking, boiling, microwaving, etc.), cooked pumpkin can vary in consistency and moisture. It’s important to work incrementally when mixing and adjust quantities if/as needed to suit the desired dough consistency.
- Preheat your oven to 180C (or local equivalent) and gather together your baking ingredients and materials.
- Combine the egg, pumpkin, peanut butter, stock, and any optional ingredients in a mixing bowl.
- Incrementally add flour, mixing into a cohesive workable dough. The amount of flour required will vary depending on your individual ingredients and any optional add-ins or substitutions. Missed the mark? No worries! You can add a little bit of extra liquid, a small amount of olive oil, or additional flour to adjust consistency if/as needed.
- Rest dough (optional but recommended). Lightly knead the rested dough before rolling.
- Roll, cut into desired shapes, and place on a prepared baking pan. See below for decorating options and ideas.
- Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes. Cooking time will vary with shape/size, so keep an eye on the oven.
- Cool before serving and storage.
Homemade Stamped Trick or Treat Bone Halloween Dog Treats
Our stamped trick or treat bones were made using a bone shaped cookie cutter and alphabet cookie stamps. They’re inexpensive but versatile for making all sorts of different words. Alphabet stamps come in all sorts of different sizes, and for stamping words on dog treats, you’ll want a small set. Shop around and find a size (and price) that you like. Try specialist baking shops or large online retailers like AliExpress or Amazon. You can check out the alphabet cookie stamps on Amazon (affiliate link) for product examples and ideas.
With this style of stamp, remember that your letters must be positioned in reverse order as well as backwards individually. If you are stamping different words, stamping all of each word before switching saves effort swapping letters around. See our stamped peanut butter bone dog treats for more details on our alphabet stamps and using them for treats.
Homemade Halloween or Thanksgiving Pumpkin Dog Treats
These pumpkins were made using the same peanut butter and pumpkin dog treat dough as the stamped treats above. Many years ago, one of the very first shaped treats we shared on the blog were simple pumpkin dog treats shaped like little pumpkins. These treats were made in the same hand-formed style, but with our roll-and-cut peanut butter and pumpkin dough and hand-shaped stems and leaves. They look fancy, but were actually a snap to decorate (and could be even faster, if you opted for simplified stems). Here’s a step-by step look at how they were made.
Making Our Pumpkin Shaped Peanut Butter and Pumpkin Dog Treats
A small amount of the divided dough was further split out, and tinted green with spirulina powder. It’s not a perfect green tint (spirulina doughs often dull when baked), but it is a healthy natural treat tinting option. And the dogs don’t care about shapes and tints anyways, just us crazy humans! See our post on using colourful ingredients to tint homemade dog treats for more ideas.
The pumpkin shapes were created by rolling the orange dough, cutting with a basic round biscuit cutter, and adding line indentations with the side of a spoon. I was in a decorating mood, so I hand formed stems (texture was added after placement by gently using a butter knife to make impressions), leaves, and little rolled sections of vine.
Additional Treat Making Tips and Tricks
Baked Biscuit Dog Treat Making Tips and Tricks
- See our introduction to making homemade baked biscuit (cookie) dog treats for additional information on baked dog treats.
- We don’t include yield in our treat recipe posts because it is very dependent on what the maker decides for treat shape, size, and thickness when they’re baking. We like to bake small batch treats (variety is the spice of life!). You can multiply our recipes if you’d like to bake a bigger batch for frozen storage or to share with furfriends.
- Baked treats can be broken for smaller dogs, or made bigger/smaller. Keep an eye on your time and temperature. The smaller the treat, the shorter the baking time.
- For a crunchier treat, you can let baked treats sit a while in the cooling oven before removing to get a little crispier or pop the baked treats into a dehydrator.
- Homemade baked dog treats are best consumed within a couple of days from baking or frozen for longer storage. See our post on baked dog treat shelf life and storage for information and tips.
Recipe and Ingredient Tips and Tricks
- Variations in measurements, individual ingredient types, and options and substitutions as well as variations in egg size, ingredient and ambient temperatures, etc. are all part of why we work incrementally when mixing.
- When using ingredients like peanut butter for dogs, take care when shopping to avoid artificial sweeteners, especially xylitol, which is extremely dangerous for dogs. Xylitol may also be labelled as sweetener code 967. I use a no added salt or sugar smooth peanut butter when making treats.
- Peanut butter can be tricky to measure perfectly. You can spritz your measuring cup or spoon with cooking spray to help measure with less mess. Or simply don’t stress about it. Close enough is good enough. There can be big differences in consistency of different peanut butters as well.
- I love giving my dogs gelatin gummies, but gelatin is also a binding add-in which helps enhance dough consistency. That can be handy with gluten free flours in dog treat doughs. Similarly, in addition to richness and nutrition, milk powder helps to enhance dough consistency and I find it also creates a slightly firmer/crisper baked result.
- If you want to substitute a ready-made unseasoned pumpkin puree or a dog-safe pumpkin-based baby food, these are often wetter than home prepared plain pumpkin. Adjusting your recipe to use less stock and/or more dry ingredients may be necessary.
Hungry for more tasty treats? There are all sorts of homemade dog treat ideas in our blog archives. You can also use the category and tag labels above/ below this post to find other recipes that might be of interest or use our internal search tools to find something specific. Remember, treats (bought or homemade) are for spoiling your pup in moderation. We share ideas from treats that we’ve made ourselves for our pets, but different animals have different preferences (likes/dislikes), just like people. Some pets may have special dietary requirements and/or food allergies/intolerances. If you are ever in doubt or have questions about what’s suitable for your pet, have a chat with your trusted vet.