After that dog food scare awhile back where some dogs were sickened or even died, Hubby & I made a decision that our dogs would no longer be fed commercial dog food, including their beloved dog biscuit treats. This way, we’d know exactly what went into the food, and we’d also be able to easily steer clear of cornmeal, which is hard to avoid and seems to aggravate our dog’s allergies.
First stop: the Internet. We looked at several sites that had dog treat recipes, and we gravitated towards these two:
Then we set out to create our own homemade dog treats. We call our recipe: Peanut Butter Puppers.
A couple of hints before we start:
- I love to use part brown rice flour in the dog biscuits, as it’s easily digestible and especially suited for the rolling out of the dough. For some reason the biscuits seem to lift off the counter more easily than if using other flours, I think because rice is so hard, the rice flour is more granular and doesn’t absorb moisture as easily.
- I’m not one to use plain white flour. There’s nothing much nutritious in it compared to whole grain, and I’m all for maximizing the nutrition wherever possible. Any whole grain flours can be used: rice, graham, rye, wheat, oat — you name it.
- I also like to substitute broth (homemade when possible; canned is pretty salty), non-fat milk, or liquid from cooking vegetables in place of water. If I’m going to moisten the dough, it might as well be with something that has some nutrition and flavor!
- If a recipe calls for salt, I just leave it out. Our dogs get enough salt when we sneak them a taste of ham or bacon or other people food (small amounts only!). They don’t need it any more than we do.
- The homemade dog treat recipes usually call for the biscuits to be cut into shapes, with a cute little bone cookie cutter or whatever cutter you might have. While this can be fun, especially if you’re doing it with the kids or planning to give the biscuits away as gifts, the dogs really don’t seem to appreciate all that effort. If you’re in a rush like I usually am, I simply roll the dough out to the desired thickness right on my counter, and use a plastic mayonnaise knife to cut them into squares or rectangles. No waste, no re-rolling scraps, and the plastic (non-serrated) knife doesn’t damage the counter. Viola!
- The baking times and oven temps are negotiable. I usually bake a little longer than they say, but keep an eye out to prevent burning. Browning is fine. It also helps to turn the dog biscuits over halfway through. If the recipe calls for 15 minutes to bake, I turn them at the 15 minutes, and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until they’re nice and crunchy. You can also leave them in the oven awhile (after you turn it off) to let them completely dry out in the residual heat.
Here’s our recipe for “Peanut Butter Puppers”:
¾ cup non-fat Milk (-OR- omit egg and increase milk to 1 cup)
1 Egg (see above)
1 cup Peanut Butter (chunky or smooth)
1 cup Brown Rice Flour
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups Oat Flour (or blender-ize some oatmeal to make a coarse flour), or Whole Wheat Flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder (Rumford — it’s aluminum free)
Mix the peanut butter, egg, and milk together with a whisk (or in a blender), then add flour and baking powder to make a stiff dough. You’ll want the dough fairly stiff; adjust quantity of flour if needed. You may have to use your hands to work in the last of the flour.
Roll out (or press with your hands) on well-floured surface, about ¼-inch thick. Cut into desired sizes with a cookie cutter or plastic knife and lift onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, then turn and bake another 15-20 minutes or until done. Cool completely and store in an airtight container or zip top bag. We like to keep our homemade dog treats in the freezer to extend freshness.
Anybody who’s ever watched me cook knows I’ve never been one to follow a recipe exactly (or measure, for that matter). But as a general rule, as long as you keep the proportions of liquid to dry ingredients in perspective (most of the homemade dog treat recipes I use seem to do well with about 1 part liquid to 3 parts dry), you can add or subtract ingredients to your heart’s content.
Keep the ingredients healthful, pack in some extra nutrition where you can, and you’ll — quite literally — have ‘em begging for more!