Baking dog cookies is something I really enjoy doing. Besides the calming effect of the aroma of baked goods, it is a great way to bond with your kids, friends and dogs. More than that; baking dog cookies is just plain fun. But many people are intimidated by the thought of baking and others may think they do not have time. Some people have dogs with allergies or are gluten intolerant and just have not found enough recipes to give it a try. But I spoke to Fido (does anyone name their dogs Fido anymore? Venkat’s the new Fido) and Fido wants more home baked dog cookies. So if you are not baking cookies for your dog, regardless of the reason, maybe this will change your mind.
Dog cookies come in various shapes, sizes and preparation methods. The four types of cookies I use most frequently:
- Drop cookies
- Rolled dough cut to various shapes using cookie cutters
- Rolled dough into a log, wrapped in plastic wrap, chilled and sliced into round cookies
- Pan cookies
The dog cookie you make will depend on the time you have available, the cookie mixture and your level of interest. For example, if I just want to whip up a quick batch of cookies I will make a drop cookie since I won’t have to spend the time rolling out the dough and forming or cutting shapes. If I have messy dough, whether by design or because I added too much liquid, I make a drop cookie. If I have more time, I will roll the dough and use cookie cutters. The only time I roll dough into a log is if I want a very precise and uniform shape or when I want to put icing on the dog cookie. Pan cookies are really easy since you just spread the mixture into a pan, bake then cut to shape. Some pan recipes are even no-bake. You spread the mixture in a pan, chill it and cut into bite sized pieces.
I bake a lot so I have lots of cooking utensils and supplies. But you do not need anything fancy to make basic dog cookies. All you really need is a large bowl, measuring cups and spoons, a spatula and a cookie sheet. All other equipment just makes it easier and in some cases, more fun. A standing electric mixer with a dough attachment is most desirable if you are going to use either of the rolled dough methods but again, you can knead the dough by hand. A rolling pin and cutting board are other handy tools, especially if you want to roll the dough. But I have been known to use a can when I couldn’t find the rolling pin. Cookie cutters are fun but you can use bottle caps, glasses and pretty much anything that can cut a shape. I have a friend that “free-styles” and cuts out shapes by hand using a small knife. Cooling racks and air-tight storage containers are also helpful but again you improvise and use a cooled oven rack raised on the counter and plain old zippered plastic storage bags. So you can see if you have the desire to bake a dog cookie, lack of equipment should not stop you.
For basic dog cookies the ingredients needed are things you may already have one hand. Flour, vegetable oil, eggs, oatmeal, honey and water are the most common ingredients. Non-fat dry milk, chicken broth, peanut butter, bananas, apples and apple sauce are also used a lot in dog cookie recipes. Once you get comfortable making dog cookies you can add more ingredients. I use canned dog food and jars of baby food in some of my recipes but you can also use leftover chicken, turkey and vegetables. So lack of ingredients should not keep you from baking dog cookies either.
If your dog has allergies, baking dog cookies is likely better and less expensive than buying store bought. Don’t let the standard list of ingredients in most dog recipes put you off. There are many common substitutions you can use to get around the offending ingredients. Banana, yogurt and apple sauce can be substituted for eggs. If a recipe calls for whole wheat or other wheat flours and your pup is allergic to wheat, substitute rye, barley or oats. If your dog is gluten intolerant, substitute rice, tapioca or potato flour for the wheat based flour. By making your own dog treats, you will be able to control the ingredients and keep your pup safe.
This is probably the most common reason why people do not bake dog cookies. But even this is not a problem. Most basic dog cookies can be made in under an hour including baking and cooling time. OK it might take you more than an hour once you do the cleanup but isn’t furry little Venkat worth it? Some recipes don’t even require baking and are equally yummy. All of the recipes offered here at Raising Healthy Dogs will yield between two to four dozen dog cookies, depending on size and thickness. Make a big batch of cookies and put some in a sealed tight container or storage bag in the refrigerator for up to one week and place the rest in the freezer for up to two months. So if you bake one batch of dog cookies that yield four dozen and it takes you less than one hour, you will have made enough cookies for weeks or even months depending on how often you treat your pup.
I hope I convinced you to give it a try. Go bake some dog cookies for your pup. You both will be glad you did.
For a sample of some cooking and baking supplies click here.