12 Cheap Dog Treats That Won’t Kill Your Dog

Golden Retriever with turkey bacon

You mean dog turkey bacon is more expensive than human turkey bacon? I guess that proves dogs are better than people.

As I read about dogs becoming ill or dying from cheap treats, I vow to buy Honey only the best.

Then I see the unit price of high quality treats in our local pet supply.

Meat treats cost more per pound than lobster. Salmon jerky is more expensive than the smoked salmon I buy myself. And those cute cookies shaped like bears? A pound of them costs more than imported Italian cheese.

Maybe it’s time to start buying dog treats from the grocery store again. But not from the pet food aisle.

Cheap (Safe) Grocery Store Treats

Here’s my list of the best dog treats you can find in the grocery store that won’t kill your dog or break your budget.


Treat Notes
Carrots Slice and store in ice water in the fridge so they stay crispy.
Turkey Hot Dogs If you don’t like handling them raw, put slices in a dehydrator or on a cookie sheet in a 170 degree oven (76 degrees centigrade) until they puff up and lose their moisture.
Cheese Use sparingly because too much will cause diarrhea.
Apple Slices Slice them ahead and spritz with lemon juice to keep them from browning but I find most dogs don’t care that much.
Liver Slice into thin pieces and dehydrate (see turkey hot dogs). Because the liver detoxifies the body, you may want to buy organic liver to avoid the chemicals and antibiotics used in conventional agriculture.
Liverwurst Otherwise known as dog crack. Great high value treat. Use sparingly.
Sweet Potatoes Peel or wash with skins on. Slice thinly and dehydrate in the oven (see turkey hot dogs).
Popcorn Skip the butter and salt.
Chicken Easiest cooking method is to use the crock pot until meat falls off the bone. Use the resulting stock in other recipes.
Frozen Yogurt Add 2 tablespoons of peanut butter to a cup of yogurt. Mix and freeze until set in tartlet pans.
Cheerios My dogs have always tolerated oats well.
Blueberries Most dogs love them as much as cherries but you don’t have to pit them.

There’s no reason your dog’s treats have to be dog treats.

Whether training or giving Honey a midday treat, human treats are tasty for both of you.

Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop

Today is the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop sponsored by Sugar the Golden Retriever and Kol’s Notes.

If you’re inspired to make your own tasty treats, check them out for recipes that will have you jealous of your dog.

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  1. This was GREAT!! Just shared it all over the place! I never thought of the turkey hot dogs or sweet potato idea . What is the best method for storing them? How long would their shelf life be? LOVE these ideas!
    I do give Dakota pieces of apple (actually my apple-freak husband does) and we have given mini carrots…Dakota loves them!
    He will also eat slices of red, yellow or orange peppers (not the hot ones) and sans seeds.

    • Thanks for sharing, Caren. You could be responsible for dog people savings thousands of dollars! :)

      I buy the turkey hot dogs they go on sale for a $1 a pack and freeze them. If you run cold water over two hot dogs, you can usually separate two off and refreeze the rest without a problem.

      I find once cut up, the hot dogs last about 2-3 days in a plastic container. Possibly longer but I don’t want to take a chance.

      The sweet potatoes last longer. I keep them in a plastic container for a few weeks in the fridge with no signs of deterioration.

  2. Thanks for the ideas! I brought my dog to an agility class. I ran out of treats and I used some “mystery” treats from their big pile and my poor dog had such a bad case of the belly aches :-(

  3. I make my dog liver bread, which really doesn’t cost much at all and she goes quite bananas for it (as do any other dogs that smell it).

  4. Those are all great options. My dogs also love bananas (although Brooks will eat the peel too if I leave it in reach!) Chicken is great, I usually save leftover chicken for them, but it doesn’t last too long. I wonder if I should invest in one of those dehydrators.

    • I’ll have to see if Mike will share some of his banana with Honey. I have no idea if she’d like it but I don’t see why not.

      People love their dehydrators. I just hate investing in specialty equipment. However, when I had a car, I used the dashboard to make sun dried tomatoes and dehydrated sweet potatoes. Might as well use all that solar energy, huh?

    • While getting caught up on my blog reading, I came across this post on dehydrators at My Imperfect Dog. Thought you might want to check it out: http://myimperfectdog.wordpress.com/2013/02/15/should-you-buy-a-dehydrator/

      • Pamela, thank you for thinking of me and letting me know. I went to the post and found the info very helpful. I’m going to look into getting a used one if I can find one. Although the storage space might be a concern. But I like the idea a lot. Thanks!

  5. My dogs LOVE frozen green beans! They get more excited when they see me with that bag then with most store bought treats. I think they like the crunch as well as the taste.

    • I love green beans but my husband hates them. I think I’ll get a bag the next time I’m at the store and maybe Honey will share them with me.

      Thanks for the great idea!

  6. Great post Pamela. We use baby carrots and I have used Liverwurst in the past. You’re right, it’s like crack. Another treat I use right from my pantry is chick peas. They are good for you, they’re good for your dog and my dogs like them.

    My guys also like banana chips which you can buy bananas on sale and dehydrate yourself.

    I buy fewer and fewer commercial treats.

    • I wasn’t sure from your video. Do you use cooked chick peas from the can? Or are they the dried ones you get in a bag?

      I never really thought of bananas but you’re the second person to suggest them. I think I’ll pick up some dried ones this week and try them out.

      Trainers usually recommend soft treats for training because they go down faster. So maybe I’ll save dried bananas for mid day snack.

      • I use them from the can, although if you had the time and inclination I suppose you could use the dried ones and then do whatever it is you have to do to make them edible.

        Sometimes I saute them too. With some olive oil and a bit of garlic or something. I like eating them so why shouldn’t the dogs? :-)

        Last night I used black beans from the can to work on Delilah with her “finish” command, I didn’t want to give her too much though, she already farts enough. :-)

        The banana chips are good for outside, I admit in a training class they probably aren’t the best, but if it’s what I have then we use it.

  7. Sue at The Golden Life says:

    Great ideas, Pamela! Thanks for sharing! My girls will eat just about anything we give them, but Ducky’s not too keen on Cheerios. Anyone know where I can buy a decent dehydrator, preferably online?

  8. My Canaan Dogs love the woody ends of asparagus that I snap off before fixing for us humans. And I have also been known to dump a handful of frozen peas on the floor for them to scavenge for!

    • That’s one I never would have thought of. I’m not sure Honey would like the fibrous texture (she’s not fond of celery) but I’ll give it a try when my asparagus starts coming up in the spring.

      Of course the mention of asparagus has my mouth watering.

  9. Great list! For those with gluten allergies, my dogs like Rice Chex too. :-)

  10. Oooh, good list.

    I was AMAZED at how much Elka liked liver, the time I got it for her. I was also pleased at how super cheap it was.

    • Liver or anything with liver in it is at the top of my list of high value treats. And despite its richness, dogs digest it really well.

      I guess they have more wild in them than we think. :)

  11. Some great ideas there. My favourite treat atm is frozen banana and low fat natural yogurt in my kong – love it:-)

  12. Oooh, I eat a lot of these treats but I never considered liverwurst. Is it really dog crack?!? I do love treats that are a bit “stinky” so I definitely will have to try the liverwurst. Thanks for sharing these treat ideas.

    • Liverwurst even gets me the undivided attention of my foster beagle, Layla. Liverwurst was what got Honey to ride in her bike cart and also to jump into the bath tub.

      Yep, doggie crack is entirely accurate.

  13. Julie Blackwelder says:

    Thanks, good ideas!!

    I buy weenies for my big dog (80 pounds), Jack. He loves them, but I boil them for 10 minutes in a BIG pot of water before I slice and then freeze them on a non-stick cookie sheet. The boiling water removes a lot of the fat and salt, and likely some of the other things in processed meats none of us should be eating.

    They all like green beans so I save out enough to last them 2 or 3 days every time I cook them,

    Minnie comes running when she hears the banana peel snap away from the bunch. The others like banana, but she LOVES it. Since they are small I always share my banana, but I do not buy just for them. Drying in the oven sounds like a good idea, I may try that.

    Since two of the small ones (all 3 are under 16 pounds), Pixie and Tsunami have food allergies, I buy the Rachael Ray “Just 6” lamb treats – less than $3 a bag. The ones I often bake are made with natural peanut butter (nothing but peanuts and salt), rice flour and oatmeal. Easy to make with small cookie cutters, and I keep small bags in the freezer so they last a long time. They seem to like having the variety and since I limit them to 4 or 5 small treats a day they still eat the Solid Gold Hund-n-Flocken well.

    • Some really great suggestions here. I like the idea of boiling and freezing the hot dogs. I’d imagine it would also cut down on the grease while still being soft enough to make a fast training treat.

  14. I am very particular about what store bought treats I will get for my dogs. I keep saying I want to bake more for them, but of course finding the time to do that is not easy. So I just love these ideas! Our beagle Kobi also loves bananas….my husband has one every morning and has to share it. The other dogs could take it or leave it, but Kobi lives for it. I know they love apples too, and I planted blueberry bushes last year, and hadn’t even thought that the dogs would like them too! Thanks for the great ideas….I am going to print this out and put it with my pile of dog treat recipes! :)

    • I replaced my landscaped shrubs with blueberries a couple of years ago. But there aren’t enough for the dogs because the kids eat them on their way home from school.

      You might want to make room for another bush of your own if you find your dogs like them as much as Honey does.

      • My blueberry bushes are pretty new so not yielding much yet. However, I had some blueberries in my fridge, and let the dogs try them. Kobi was the only one who would eat them! Cricket didn’t think they smelled good enough, Moses dropped his on the floor, and Sheba carried hers around in her mouth like it was a toy (ultimately she ate it but wasn’t looking for more)! I can always count on Kobi to eat anything, but will have to go to other parts of your list for the rest I guess! :) I’m thinking Cheerios might be a hit with all, and hubby and I like them too!

  15. Great ideas, all. My dog is soooo not picky that pretty much anything is a treat for her, especially if it’s something she has seen me eating, then it’s the best thing ever. From lettuce to celery to plain brown rice, if it’s on my plate, she thinks it’s super yummy.

  16. That is just brilliant. We printed them out. Go to get the peeps in the kitchen now. Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

    • And the comments include so many other great ideas as well. Maybe I should make it into a PDF with all the items suggested in the comments that folks can download and put on their fridge.

      Great idea, Molly.

  17. What a great list…I use a lot of these ideas already…eg. the package of buffalo hotdogs I bought ended up (after tasting and not liking them) as hot dog chips done in the microwave…I buy large packages of bacon ends and pieces and nuke that for treats too…and i’ve used leftover cooked squash and the pulp from my juicer as the bases for doggie veggie brownies which Gizmo adores…

    • Oooh, I forgot about cooked squash. Honey loves it as much as sweet potatoes. But I haven’t found a good delivery method since it comes out in a big mush. Maybe I’ll freeze it into tiny squash balls.

      Great ideas.

  18. It’s BJ. Great idea. I don”t like blueberries, but i LOVE watermelon. As soon as it comes out of the refrigerator I come running.
    Hugs and Woofs, BJ

    • Watermelon is a great idea. I don’t buy it often because it’s not my favorite and only my husband eats it. But if Honey likes it…

  19. Woof! Woof! Totally agree. My treats are always natural treats (fruits preferred choice) mostly because of my allergies and it is just soooo hard to trust packaged treats. Happy Tasty Tuesday. Golden Thanks for joining the blog hop. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  20. We’ve made the hot dogs in the microwave, too! I can vouch for the liverwurst. One of our former dogs would have jumped through rings of fire for that stuff! lol

  21. I love this post Pamela! Despite outward appearances, my dogs get very few “treats”, but they can always have as many fresh veggies as they can hold. Their favourite?? Sweet bell peppers. It’s like canine crack.

  22. This is a fantastic list and I love that I can get everything at the grocery store!

  23. Great ideas! Jodi at Heart Like a Dog clued us in on banana chips, which my dogs love.

  24. What awesome list and its true all these items make excellent treats for dogs! My favorite is Cheerios, which we use for training!

  25. You are SO right on. Thanks for writing about healthy treats for our dogs!

  26. Love, love, love this! What a great list! I’ve tried frozen green beans for a bit but the dogs tired of them quickly. I’m thinking of doing something with duck, wonder if that would dehydrate well?