Confused About Which Flour To Use For Dog Treats?
Healthy, homemade dog treats are so much better for your fur baby than store-bought treats. Perhaps you’re wondering what flour to use in dog treats?
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IS FLOUR GOOD FOR DOGS?
‘Flour’ can refer to so many different food products. So, when asking if dogs can eat flour, we need to be specific about which type of flour.
There’s lots of food that really isn’t great for dogs, much of which isn’t great for us either in fact. However, I can make a conscious choice to eat something that’s ‘bad for me’ (chips, nachos, chocolate cake… the list goes on), but I’d rather my dogs didn’t get unhealthy food offered to them.
Certain kinds of flour add nothing nutritionally to a recipe. Some types of flour are potentially bad for your dog. For that reason, I no longer use wheat flour, for instance. That said, the occasional treat with wheat flour is not going to seriously harm a dog, unless that dog has an allergy to wheat.
However, since there are healthier alternatives to ‘unhealthy’ flours, that work well in my recipes, I prefer to use those.
GLUTEN FREE FLOURS
Many dog treat recipes call for gluten free flour. This is a fantastic option for dogs that have a gluten allergy. However, according to Purina, true gluten intolerance in dogs is pretty rare, with supposedly less than 1% of dogs suffering from a gluten allergy.
From a dog treats point of view, the problem with gluten free flours is that they lack the ‘glue’ that holds ingredients together.
GRAIN FREE FLOURS
One of the problems with grains is this: grains, (with the exception of sorghum and millet), are high in lectins. Lectins can damage the stomach lining, which can lead to leaky gut syndrome, causing chronic inflammation.
Legumes, such as peas, beans, soybeans and lentils, are also high in lectins.
Grain free dog treat recipes will not call for flour made from wheat, barley, rice, oats, or rye. Common grain-free options include almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour.
The problem with lectins is one of the reasons why dogs with dietary problems often don’t get better when switched from grain-based dog food to grain-free food.
Instead of eating dog food with rice or wheat in it (grain-based) they end up eating dog food with peas and other legumes which are typical of grain-free diets.
WHICH FLOUR IS BEST FOR MAKING DOG TREATS?
Different flours react differently from one recipe to another and will give you different results in your treats. If you like the look of a recipe, but don’t like the flour used – or don’t have it in your pantry – you can experiment by replacing the called-for flour with something else.
COMMONLY USED FLOUR FOR DOG TREATS
I love using almond flour in my treats. It’s a fairly heavy flour, but it works well in most recipes. It’s calorie-dense, but it’s also nutrient-dense. Plus, the calories come mostly from beneficial, unsaturated fats.
Here are a couple of recipes that use almond flour:
Coconut flour adds a coconut flavour to treats: this varies according to the brand and the quality of the flour. It is not as heavy as almond flour, but you can’t simply replace the called-for flour in a recipe with coconut flour.
Coconut flour is very ‘thirsty’, quickly absorbing more liquid than other flours do. If you want to incorporate coconut flour into a recipe that calls for a different flour, you will need to experiment.
Try mixing the coconut flour with another flour, substituting 1 cup of the called for flour with 1/4 cup of coconut flour.
Also increase the amount of eggs, oil or liquid in the recipe to account for coconut flour’s absorbency. Add a little at a time until you get the required consistency.
Coconut flour is also difficult to use in doughs that you intend to roll out. You may find that dog biscuits made with coconut flour are softer than with other types of flour.
Here are a couple of dog treats and dog cake recipes that use coconut flour:
OAT (OATMEAL) FLOUR
You can either buy ready made oat flour (oatmeal), or grind it yourself – I grind oats in my coffee grinder. Don’t overfill it, just do small batches at a time, and you’ll soon be adding it to all your recipes!
Oat flour mixes well with other flours such as brown rice flour or coconut flour. Oat flour doesn’t absorb as much liquid as coconut flour does, but it retains moisture well. Consequently, treats made with oats may take longer to cook and be more moist after cooking, than treats made with other flours.
Moisture can lead to mold, so making sure that your treats are properly dried is important if you plan to keep them for longer periods of time. Dehydrators are a dog-bakers best friend for making treats with a long shelf life!
Oat flour is higher in carbohydrates than some other flours. However it’s a nutrient dense source of carbs, so if you’re looking to improve on a general, all-purpose wheat flour, then oat flour is a great alternative.
Many of the non-wheat flours are much more expensive than wheat, but that’s not the case with oats, so they make a cost-effective substitute for other flours.
Oats also offer some excellent health benefits too.
Here are a couple of dog treat recipes that use oatmeal flour:
Rice flour won’t add any particular flavour to your dog treats. You can get brown rice flour, and white rice flour.
Brown rice flour is simply ground, unrefined (unhulled) rice, whereas white rice flour is ground hulled rice.
Brown rice flour is more nutritious than white, but it is a heavier flour than the white. Using just brown rice flour can lead to denser doughs. You could try mixing brown rice flour with other flours, such as coconut flour or white rice flour to lighten it.
Mixing rice flour with other flours is a good idea anyway, since dog biscuits and treats made with just rice flour tend to crumble more easily.
Tapioca flour is a light flour with a slightly nutty flavour. It comes from a root, not a grain.
It is is high in starchy carbs. It is also high in calories, so it’s not a good choice for treats for an overweight dog.
I don’t personally use tapioca flour in my treats. Using tapioca alone, especially in higher proportions, might lead to a sticky, gummy texture. However, I’ve heard other dog treat bakers sing its praises, especially in flour blends. A good blend seems to be 50% tapioca to 50% oatmeal.
CHICKPEA / GARBANZO FLOUR
Chickpeas are nutritious, but they are legumes, so if you are concerned about lectins in your dog’s diet, it’s probably best to avoid chickpea flour.
Used as the only flour in a recipe, it may lead to treats that crumble easily.
Wheat flour is available as white, highly refined flour, or, whole wheat.
White flour offers absolutely nothing by way of nutrients and is not going to help or maintain your dog’s health.
Whole wheat flour offers a source of fibre. There are gluten free options, but if you use these you’ll need to add something to help bind the ingredients, such as egg.
PROS AND CONS OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF FLOUR FOR DOG TREATS
|Almond Flour||Gluten free,|
Can replace wheat flour with almond flour in recipes calling for wheat flour
|Higher fat content|
|Coconut flour||Low in carbs,|
High in fibre
|Very ‘thirsty’ – requires|
Not good for rolled dough if used as only flour
|Oat(meal) Flour||Can easily replace half of called for flour with oat flour,|
Good health properties
|Higher in carbs|
|Rice Flour||Works well in combination with another flour||Treats crumble easily when used as only flour|
|Tapioca Flour||A root not a grain||High in carbs|
High in calories
|Whole wheat Flour||Cheap|
High in fibre
|High in carbs|