Deciding to make your own dog treats for your pup can have many benefits. Making dog treats allows you to perfectly customize the flavor and texture to your dog’s preferences, saves money, and controls exactly what goes into the treats.
Many dog treat recipes call for some kind of flour. The trouble is, there are well over 30 types of flour on the market today, each with its own unique characteristics and profile.
Not all flours are created equal, especially when it comes to the health and nutrition of your pet. In this article, we will break down everything you need to know about choosing the best flour for dog treats.
How to Store Flours
For all-purpose flour and other general flours, storing them inside the freezer or fridge in an airtight container will keep pests out. These flours will last for up to a year.
If that sounds like too much work, don’t feel bad about keeping all-purpose flour in your pantry. It won’t last as long, but as long as no direct sunlight hits your storage area, the flour will be just fine.
Whole grain flours have a much more limited shelf-life than processed, bleached flours. This is because whole wheat flours have a much higher fat content than white flour. In your pantry, whole wheat flour lasts only for about three months. Putting it in the fridge or freezer will add an extra few months.
Nut flours have the highest fat content of any flour, meaning they spoil the quickest. It is generally the best idea to keep nut flours in the fridge or freezer because of their limited shelf life. In the freezer, some nut flours can last up to a year.
Hard Wheat vs. Soft Wheat
Flour is made from ground wheat, but two types of wheat greatly affect how the flour performs. These two types are hard wheat and soft wheat.
Hard wheat is very high in protein and gluten. This makes hard wheats like bread flour perfect for strong doughs, like for a bread recipe.
As the name suggests, soft wheat is more delicate than hard wheat. Compared to hard wheat, soft wheat is lower in gluten and protein. This makes it perfect for recipes like angel food cake but not necessary for most dog treats.
Combining different types of flours in your dog treats can allow you to create interesting flavor and nutritional profiles.
For instance, coconut flour is hard to bake on its own due to its high absorbency. Mixing coconut flour with whole wheat flour can fix this.
Mixing brown rice flour with sorghum flour can make dog treats that are well-rounded, nutty, and healthy.
Similarly, mixing dark buckwheat flour with coconut or oat flour can help reduce grittiness in dog treats.
Most Common Flours
All-purpose flour, bread flour, cake flour, self-rising flour and whole wheat flour are among the most popular and readily available flours in your local supermarket.
But are these the best flours for baking dog treats?
For humans, these flours are very versatile and great for all sorts of baking applications. However, some of these flours aren’t the best for dogs because most of the nutrition is taken out of them in the bleaching process.
All-purpose flour (AP) is the most versatile type of flour on the market due to its mid-range protein and gluten content. It can be used in almost any application. However, to achieve this flexibility, the grains in AP flour are stripped of their healthy bits. In addition, many AP flours are bleached, further reducing nutrition. Because of this, AP flour is generally not the best choice for dog treats. AP flour is not gluten-free.
Bread flour has a very high level of protein and gluten compared to other types of flour. Bread flour can replace most flours in an equal ratio. Bread flour isn’t great for dog treats because bread flour is usually used to make perishable products like scones. Bread flour is not gluten-free.
Cake flour produces light baked goods to produce cakes and pancakes. Because of its similarities to AP flour, cake flour isn’t a great choice for dog treats. Unless, of course, you are making your dog a birthday cake! Cake flour is not gluten-free.
Self Rising Flour
Self-rising flour is just AP flour with baking powder, and salt added, so it is not a great choice for dogs. Self-rising flour is usually used for recipes like biscuits that need help getting fluffy. Self-rising flour is not gluten-free.
Whole Wheat Flour
Whole wheat flour contains tons of proteins and glutens, as well as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more. It can essentially be used just like AP flour. This makes whole wheat flour an excellent choice for dog treats. Whole wheat flour is not gluten-free.
Alternative flours may be harder to find, but many of them are perfect for dog treats. Alternative flour can usually be found at specialty stores (and online). Almost all alternative flours are very nutritious for dogs and gluten-free.
Almond flour doesn’t contain as much nutrition as almonds but is still a good choice for dog treats due to its high vitamin and healthy fat content. Almond flour gives some dogs upset stomachs and can be tough to bake with. Almond flour is gluten-free.
Amaranth flour is a pseudo-grain flour that is very good for dogs. It contains fiber, vitamins, and energy restoring compounds. Amaranth is easy to bake with and gluten-free.
Barley flour is similar to whole wheat flour and can be used in dog treats. Some dogs may get upset stomachs from barley. Barley flour can make hard dog treats like granola. It is not gluten-free.
Brown Rice Flour
Brown rice flour is high in fiber, calcium, and other vitamins. It is great for dogs. Brown rice flour can make dog treats slightly gritty and heavy when baking. Brown rice flour is naturally gluten-free.
Buckwheat flour can be used for dog treats because of its high nutritional level. But, like brown rice flour, buckwheat flour is very gritty and can be tricky to bake with. It is naturally gluten-free.
Chickpea flour is made from garbanzo beans and is great for dogs. It is one of the most nutrient-dense flours on the market. Chickpea flour is gluten-free.
Coconut flour is minimally processed and high in nutrition, perfect for dogs. It can be tough to bake with because of its very high levels of absorbency. Coconut flour is gluten-free.
Corn flour, also known as masa harina, isn’t great for dog treats because it isn’t typically used to make biscuits or cookies. Usually, masa harina is mixed with water to make tortillas. It is gluten-free.
Flaxseed flour is great for dogs because it is rich in fiber and other essential nutrients. It is very high in fat, so flaxseed flour can be used without eggs or oil. Flaxseed four is gluten-free.
Millet flour has a ton of nutrition, but it isn’t great for dog treats because millet flour needs to be mixed with AP flour before baking. Millet flour is gluten-free.
Oat flour is made of ground oats and is great for dogs with sensitive stomachs. Oat flour is very moist and can introduce liquid into your treats. Oat flour is gluten-free.
Peanut flour is not usually used for baking because it is made up solely of crushed peanuts. But, it can be used as a flavoring agent in dog treats. Peanut flour is gluten-free.
Potato flour is hard to bake with but is technically safe for dogs. It is probably best to avoid potato flour for dog treats in favor of a more hearty flour. Potato flour is gluten-free.
Quinoa flour is easy to bake with but can be tough on a dog’s stomach. Because of this, it isn’t the best choice for making dog treats. But, if your dog shows no resistance, quinoa flour is an option. Quinoa is gluten-free.
Rye flour is similar to whole wheat or AP flour in its uses. Rye flour is okay for dogs but is usually used for making more perishable items. Rye flour is not gluten-free.
Semolina flour is very high in protein, which makes it dense and chewy. But, semolina is rarely baked with, instead being used for pasta. So, semolina isn’t great for dog treats. Semolina flour isn’t gluten-free.
Sorghum flour is high in nutrients and safe for dogs. But, if your dog is sensitive to grains, sorghum is a bad choice. It needs a binder to be baked with. Sorghum flour is gluten-free.
Soy flour is rich and nutritious. However, it is not a good choice for dogs since many are allergic to soy. Soy flour is gluten-free.
Sprouted flour is just any whole grain flour that has been “sprouted” to give it extra nutrition. Dogs can have sprouted flour, and it’s great for adding extra nutrition. Sprouted rice is only gluten-free if the grain used in it is gluten-free.
Spelt flour is a great dog-friendly replacement for AP flour because it’s easy to bake with. But, dogs should be given spelt in moderation. Spelt is not gluten-free.
Teff flour is full of iron and calcium and great for dogs. Teff is easy to bake with and good for sensitive canine stomachs. Teff flour is gluten-free.
Vital Wheat Gluten Flour
Vital wheat gluten flour is a good substitute for AP flour. It can be used very widely but is full of antioxidants and vitamins. It is very dog friendly. Vital wheat gluten flour is not gluten-free.
White Rice Flour
Compared to brown rice flour, white rice flour has much less nutritional value. It is fine for making dog treats, but it makes more sense to use brown rice flour instead because of its vitamins and minerals. White rice flour is gluten-free.
Sunday 5th of March 2023
Hi. I'm interested to know how Graham Flour would rate in your list? I have two bags someone gave me but I have never seen recipes for dog treats that use it. Please advise, Thank you.
Tuesday 3rd of January 2023
Hi Ive been using wholewheat flour for doggy liver cake. The only thing is the cake doesnt rise. Is there anything that is ok for dogs that is a rising agent? Jan