Maybe you’re less than trusting of store brand dog treats or the standards you have for your pup’s diet are higher than what you have access to at the grocer. Regardless of your situation, it is likely that you are reading this article because you have considered baking your treats. While it has often been said that anyone who wants something done right needs to accomplish it themselves, you should know what goes into a quality dog treat.
Because dogs have certain dietary and caloric requirements different from humans and you cannot give them whatever you like, I have compiled this guide of everything necessary to bake quality treats for your dog.
To clarify, this is an overview of the topic of baking dog treats and not a list of recipes.
What Not to Use
Before you go about making whatever sort of treats strike your imagination, it is important to review the list of ingredients that should never be given to a dog. Every food mentioned on this list is toxic to dogs and should be avoided by dogs at all costs.
- Chocolate. While this is the most widely understood toxin to dogs, it gets a mention here for the sake of being comprehensive.
- Baby food containing either onion or garlic
- Grapes and raisins
- Artificial sweeteners and colors
- Macadamia nuts
It is also worth mentioning that some dogs suffer from gluten intolerance. While there is no specific test for this, tests do exist to verify whether or not your dog has celiac disease. Even if he has celiac disease, you can still bake some tasty treats for him.
The Basic Formula
A proper baked dog treat consists of four major components.
- One or more varieties of flour
- A fat or oil
- Fruits and/or vegetables
- Some variety of liquid
Using this four-component base as a guideline, you can very easily make something with all-purpose flour, coconut oil, some chopped carrots, and milk, as one example.
While those four broad categories give you plenty of freedom when baking a treat, maybe you have found a really appealing recipe for dog treats off some site but you realize that it mentions a few key ingredients you lack. Provided below are a few notable substitutes you can make either due to availability or health concerns.
- Applesauce, pumpkin puree, and carrot puree can all fill the same role.
- Almond butter is a suitable replacement for peanut butter.
- Grated apple works fine if you lack zucchini.
- Mashed banana is a tasty stand-in for any sort of pureed fruit or veggie.
- You can freely use non-dairy ingredients to stand in for dairy.
Tricks to Measuring
Use a measuring cup for semi-solids like peanut butter. You can save yourself a lot of effort removing the peanut butter from the cup by spritzing the cup with a little oil before adding the peanut butter to measure.
Use a spoon when working with herbs and other loose greens, making sure to loosely pack them into the spoon.
For ingredients that require a more precise measure it’s always best to go by weight. Flour is a great example of this, because depending on how densely packed it is you can add vastly different amounts of flour when using a measuring cup. Another case would be if you are making CBD treats for your dog from CBD oil. By measuring out the precise amount of oil in weight, you can ensure that you are making treats with the proper dosage.
If you are baking medium-to-large size treats, consider scoring them down the middle prior to baking. This will make it much easier to snap them in half for easy portion control.
A Note on Storage
Even the hungriest dog should not be given your entire batch of treats at once. Store your treats in an airtight container to minimize the chance of them going stale.
Denise Worthley worked as a baker in a restaurant before setting up her own bakery business. As a pet lover, she also offers bake goods that are allowed for pets.