18 January 2008

Homemade dog biscuits or treats

I've been experimenting with dog biscuit/treats recipes for a while now but finally have come up with one that suits all of us. I'm happy because they're healthy, easy to make and quite inexpensive, and the dogs are happy because they prefer these biscuits to the bought ones. I've tested this several times by putting a handful of their bought biscuits in a bowl next to one of the homemade biscuits and they always eat the homemade ones first. When I give them one as a treat, they follow me around for a while in the hope of scoring another one. Another bonus is that you'll be able to make these with what's in your stockpile cupboard and pantry.

Many of you know we've been feeding Rosie and Alice on homemade dog food all their lives. They're now 12 and 10 years old and are very fit dogs, still capable of running around like mad things. The recipe for my homemade dog food is here. We feed them twice a day. Once with biscuits in the morning and once in the afternoon with the homemade dog food. I have been buying the Omega 3 enriched dog biscuits over the years while I've experimented with biscuit recipes but I stepped this up a notch about a month ago when the price of dog biscuits increased by $5, making the normally $20 large bag from the produce store, $25. Hmmmm, it was time for real action.

If you decide to try this recipe, just make a small portion until you know your dog likes what you've made. When the biscuits pass the taste test, you can make enough for a month or two. I keep about a week's worth of biscuits out in a sealed container and have the rest in the freezer.

Homemade dog biscuits/treats
2 cups water mixed with 2 tablespoons Vegemite OR two cups beef or chicken stock. This can be homemade or from stock powder.
1 cup bread or plain/all-purpose flour
2 cups wholemeal or rye flour
1 cup rolled oats or instant oats
½ cup powdered milk
1 teaspoon yeast

If you want to add Omega 3, add 2 teaspoons of flax seed oil or emu oil to the mix.

Please note: The biscuits will get their flavour from the liquid you use. If your dog likes vegemite, use that, if your dog likes beef or chicken, use the stock option.

Please note:
The amount of liquid you add will depend entirely on your flour, oats and how much humidity is in the air. Start with 2 cups, but you might need to add another cup - in small portions until the dough feels right.

You can make this in your bread machine or by hand. If using the bread machine, use the dough setting and add the ingredients in the order listed above. Feel the dough after it's been mixed to make sure it feels smooth and not too dry.

If making by hand, put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Remove the mixture from the bowl and knead for five minutes or until the dough is tender and smooth. It makes a lovely dough.

When the dough is ready, roll it out with a rolling pin and cut it into the shapes you like. Here I've used hearts, stars and a loaf shape. The loaf shape being the easiest. I can break the loaves up into pieces by making a knife cut into half the loaf thickness. Don't cut right through.

Place on a greased or paper lined baking sheet and allow to rise slightly for about 30 minutes. Bake in a slow oven at 170º C (325 º F) one hour. When all are baked, turn off oven and leave them in the oven overnight to cool. Then store in a container or the freezer.

Here are the loaves with some pieces broken up. As you can see by this photo, I didn't cut right through the dough but they're easy to break up. Preparing them as loaves made them crisp on the outside but with a softer interior. The hearts and stars dried out more as they're flatter and therefore much crisper. This amount makes 20 hearts, 6 stars and 50 loaf pieces. My girls eat either two hearts/stars or 4 pieces of loaf in the morning as well as their homemade dog food meal in the afternoon.

I hope your dogs
like this as much as Rosie and Alice do. If you decide to make up the recipe, I'd like to know if your dogs enjoyed them. : - )
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