Allergies. Some animals may be allergic to some of the ingredients in these recipes. If your dog hasn’t been exposed to any of the ingredients listed, I suggest that you pick a recipe that has very few ingredients. Give your dog half the treat and wait an hour. If you notice increased scratching, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling or any strange behavior, contact your veterinarian or emergency animal facility immediately. If you observe no reaction, increase the amount of the treat you originally gave your dog. Again, wait an hour. If you observe no reaction, give your dog a larger piece of the treat.
Treats, Not Meals. These recipes make wholesome treats for your dog because they contain no artificial colouring, preservatives, flavorings, fillers or chemicals. However, they’re treats only and aren’t intended as a complete diet.
Ingredients. When purchasing ingredients, choose the best quality you can find and afford. Organic and non-organic ingredients are both fine, so use whatever you prefer.
Any type of flour can be used in these recipes, especially if your dog has a wheat allergy. If you use white flour, I suggest buying unbleached white flour.
When deciding what cheese to use, the choice is yours. In my recipes, I suggest low-fat cheeses. And purchase all-natural, unsalted peanut butter with no sugar added; most grocery stores carry natural peanut butter.
Mixing. Cakes and muffins can be mixed with a fork. Cookies and frostings should be mixed with either a hand mixer or stand-alone mixer. When mixing, if your dough doesn’t seem firm enough, add more flour, one tablespoon at a time. Mix or knead in the flour until the dough is firm. If your dough is too stiff and crumbly, add more water, one tablespoon at a time.
Yield. The yields for the recipes provided are just guidelines; your yield may be more or less, depending on the cookie cutter you use and the thickness of your dough. Be creative when baking, and use cookie cutters with a variety of shapes.
Oven Temperature. Variations in oven temperatures are common. Your oven temperature and the thickness of your dough may cause your desserts to bake quicker or take longer than expected. Check all items periodically during baking. All temperatures listed refer to degrees Fahrenheit. If your dog doesn’t like hard, crunchy treats, eliminate the suggested oven drying time of one to two hours. The drying time removes the moisture from the cookie, making them hard. If you don’t dry the cookies after baking, they’ll be chewy instead of crunchy.
Storage. These recipes don’t have any preservatives to extend their life, so store them accordingly. I normally store treats in an airtight plastic container in a cool dry place, although I do refrigerate cakes, muffins and treats that contain meat or cheese. The estimated average shelf life of most of the treats is approximately three weeks for cookies and one and a half to two weeks for cakes and muffins. The longevity of the treats depends on the freshness of ingredients used and the climate in which the treats are stored. As a final note, be sure to cool all food items completely before serving them to your dog.
Salt and Sugar. Salt and sugar aren’t good for your dog, so look for products with no salt or sugar added.
Carob, Not Chocolate. Because chocolate can be fatal to your dog, carob is used extensively in these recipes. Carob is a chocolate substitute that’s very nutritious and is available at health-food stores and many grocery stores.
Raisins, Onions and Garlic. Raisins can be highly toxic for some dogs; avoid all raisins and grapes. Onions are also harmful to dogs, as is garlic in large amounts. Avoid garlic cloves and opt for small amounts of garlic powder instead.
Eggs. Recipes that call for eggs mean egg whites and yolks, not the shells. I’ve seen many dog recipes that contain eggshells. Eggshells can have chemicals, bacteria and a host of other items that can make your dog very sick.