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Friday, November 19, 2010

How to make your own dog cookies

Don't get me wrong, my dogs usually eat Flint River Ranch dog cookies (their favorite is the Trout and Sweet Potato combo), but during the holidays I like to make dog cookies our agility club can sell for fund-raising at the local craft bazaars.  Home-made cookies have that special appeal (to the buyers, of course) at holiday time...plus, you can control the ingredients and know you're baking something tasty and nutritious from supplies already  in your pantry.

Google "dog cookie recipes" and you'll find thousands on the internet.  But I prefer to concoct my own.  You really don't need a recipe.  Your measurements need not be precise.  You need no leavening agent at all, since dog cookies will keep better if they're flat and very crisp.  Nor do you need any sweetener, although I occasionally use a wee bit of molasses.

Look around your cabinets for some of these items:
  • oatmeal, preferably cooked
  • flax seed
  • wheat germ
  • whole wheat flour
  • vegetable oil
  • peanut butter
  • canned pumpkin
  • parmesan cheese
  • eggs
  • beef or chicken stock
  • ground cooked beef or poultry
  • blueberries
  • apples
  • millet (as a breakfast cereal)
  • brown rice
  • minced garlic
  • powdered milk/powdered buttermilk
  • molasses

Those are some starters.  Mix any of these ingredients together and make a dough that is roll-out consistency.  Roll your dough to about 3/8" thick.Take your doggy bone cookie cutters (or other small Christmas-theme cutters) and stamp out the cookies.  Transfer them onto a large cookie sheet, turn the oven on to about 275-300, and let the cookies bake slowly for at least an hour.  Your dough will be brown already, but if the oven makes the cookies too brown, turn down the heat.  You must keep them in the oven long enough that the moisture evaporates and the cookies become hard and crunchy.  Remove from the oven and let them cool on a rack overnight to finish off the hardness.  Store in an airtight container, or freeze in a zip-lock bag until you need them.

If you think your cookies need seasoning, add some low-sodium beef or chicken broth as your moisture (instead of water).  Don't be afraid to throw in a little cinnamon, primarily for the "aromatic" holiday appeal.

My dogs' favorites:
  • Oatmeal/molasses stars
  • Peanut butter bones
  • Pumpkin/millet nuggets
  • Parmesan/garlic squares

The recipes:  a bunch of this, a little of that, a pinch of whatever...remember your dogs aren't as picky about what they eat and taste as we are.  Just make sure you use good, wholesome ingredients (no artificial stuff) and you cook them long enough to avoid mold...that is, if they last long enough to get stale!

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