Want to start making your dog homemade dog treats but aren’t sure where to begin? If you have a dog treat recipe that calls for flour start here!
While, many dog food companies use flour in dog food, many times as fillers. Since flour was not a natural ingredient in dogs diet I try to refrain from using flour in my homemade dog treats for this reason. But there are times when a recipe calls for flour so I make the best possible choice for my fur babies.
Hopefully, this list and the attached downloadable chart will help you make the best choice for your pup as well!
Just some key things to remember
- They all have a con: In this article, I touch on the pros and cons of the various flours you can opt to use in your dog’s treats, but they all have one con in common and that is too many of a good thing can be a bad thing. Always use moderation when feeding treats.
- Possible allergies: Some dogs may be allergic to some flours like pea or wheat so obviously make sure to keep that in mind when choosing
- Buy organic: While many of the flours are simple to make at home the easiest route is to pick some up while you’re out and about. If you choose this route opt for organic flours
- Meal replacement: Treats are not meal replacements so while dogs are omnivores and can have plants they do still need meat to have a healthy, balanced diet
- Consultation: Always consult with your veterinarian prior to feeding any homemade treats or meals
- Mixing: You may find it best to mix flours to get the perfect consistency. After playing around with it for a while you will find a go-to flour
- mixture that works for you and your fur baby
What are grain free flours?
Grain-free flours are those without grains and are usually used to substitute whole grain flours in dogs that have a gluten sensitivity or autoimmune disease.
As one of the most popular flours for pet owners to use, almond flour makes a great alternative to wheat flour. It is made with almonds that have usually been blanched and finely ground to a light, fluffy texture. Almond flour is high in plant-based proteins, low in carbohydrates, and gluten-free. There are many treat companies and pet food companies that use almond flour in their ingredients.
You can easily make almond flour at home to include in your pets so you know exactly what is in your treats, no additives or preservatives! Almonds are pretty high on the nutrient list as they are full of healthy fats, calcium, fiber, vitamin E, iron, and plant-based proteins.
Unfortunately, with all of the benefits of almond flour comes the high-calorie count with one cup having an average of 648 calories. Almond flour is great for treats that can be cooked at lower temperatures as it contains delicate fats that can be oxidized when cooking at higher temps
2. Quinoa flour
Quinoa flour is a good alternative to wheat flour and is naturally gluten-free and extremely high in plant-based protein. You can easily make this flour at home by grinding raw quinoa seeds.
It is also a source of fiber and iron for your pup. It provides all 20 essential amino acids as well.
It doesn’t hold the shape as well as some other flours, so may not be the best choice if you are using cookie cutters or need a specific shape.
3. Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is made from dried and ground coconut pulp which you can do at home but may not be as easy to make as almond flour. It has less fat and fewer calories than almond flour but also has fewer vitamins and minerals than almond flour.
It is pretty high in fiber which is great for stomach regularity and because of the dryness it is great for thickening broths or other liquids you may want to top off your dog’s regular meals with. Coconut flour is a great option if your dog is dieting or needs to be on a low-carb diet.
Coconut flour can be a little grainy when working with it and because it is so high in fiber it can sometimes be hard to digest so make sure your pup has water readily available when giving them treats made from coconut flour. You may also have to add extra water when baking your treats as it often needs more than lighter flours.
You may want to avoid using coconut flour in dogs that suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or IBS as it may cause gas, bloating, and other symptoms of the syndrome.
4. Arrowroot Flour
Arrowroot flour is a starchy substance that comes from the tropical plant Maranta Arundinacea. Many pet owners swear by it to help alleviate digestive issues in pets including upset stomach, diarrhea, and constipation.
It is generally safe to use in dogs and can be mixed with other flours to make treats. It is rich in iron, B-vitamins, and potassium.
Used alone it will not make a great dough, it will be more of a paste consistency and you will need to mix in another type of flour to form treats
It’s a versatile flour and can be used as a thickener or mixed with almond, coconut, or tapioca flours for bread and dessert recipes. If you want a crispy, crunchy product, use it on its own.
5. Potato Flour
Potato flour is a white powder ground from whole peeled and dehydrated potatoes. This makes it ideal to use as a thickening agent because it attracts and holds water. Potato flour is a natural source of iron, B vitamins, and fiber. You can easily make your own potato flour at home if you have a dehydrator, but it does take quite a while to make it as many times it can take over 10 hours.
Potato flour has high binding power and is great to use in treats that need a lot of water as it absorbs a lot of water.
Like potatoes, potato flour is high in carbohydrates so you may want to avoid it in dogs that need to lose a little weight. Most flours are at least 94% carbs.
If you like the properties of potato flour look into using potato starch as well, it is a little lighter than the flour and may be used in a wide variety of treat options as well.
6. Tapioca Flour
Also known as cassava, tapioca flour is a common carbohydrate source in grain-free dog foods.
Tapioca flour is fairly easy to work with and the texture lends itself to many recipes
Tapioca flour generally lacks most nutrients and is mainly used as a filler. If you want a more nutritious option, you may want to choose another flour.
7. Chia Seed Flour
Chia seed flour is easy to make and packed with nutrients that will benefit your furry friend. Incorporating chia seeds into your dog’s diet is always a great thing, while there are some dangers that you may want to keep in mind that you can read about in this article, they are fairly safe for dogs. Chia seed flour is basically finely ground chia seeds.
Chia seed flour makes a great egg substitute if you don’t want to use eggs
Chia seeds are extremely drying and can expand when wet, so ensuring your pet has adequate water available to drink and that you add water to the treats will help prevent bloating.
What Are Pulse Flours?
Pulse flours are made from pulses or legumes. Most pulse flours are made by milling or grinding whole pulses into flour and many of them can be easily made at home and retain many of their inherent nutrients. All pulses are gluten-free.
8. Chickpea flour
Chickpea flour is made from ground dried garbanzo beans and is high in fiber and protein. It is often used in gluten-free recipes for dogs as an alternative to wheat flour. It is pretty filling so a couple of treats will go a long way. The flour has the same amount of protein and fiber as whole wheat flour.
Chickpea flour sticks together pretty well and adds a bit of texture to treats. Because it is high in fiber it is a great choice for dogs that may need assistance with constipation or firming up diarrhea.
Because it does have a slightly nutty taste some dogs will turn their noses up at treats made with chickpea flour. It is a heavier flour, so combining it with lighter flours like potato starch or almond flour may make your treats a bit less dense.
Lentil flour is made from you guessed it, dried and ground lentils. Lentil flour is an extremely nutrient-dense pulse as it is high in protein and fiber.
It is an excellent source of iron, has a low glycemic index, and is low in calories which makes it a great flour for treats in a dog that is trying to lose weight.
As with most of the treats listed, you can overdo and give them too much which will usually result in an upset stomach. But that is pretty much the only con when considering lentil flour to include in your dog’s treats
Pea flour is milled from roasted peas and is rich in plant-based protein, iron, calcium, and fiber. You can easily make it at home by roasting your peas and grinding them. Pet parents make pea flour from all types of peas including split and yellow. If you are making treats that require a green hue using green pea flour will be just what you need.
Pea flour is slightly less than other pulse flours and most dogs enjoy the taste
There are some dogs that are highly allergic to peas and your treats will come out green if you use green peas
What are pseudograins?
Pseudograins or pseudocereals are non-grasses that resemble grains, but are not biologically similar but can be used in the same manner.
11. Amaranth flour
Amaranth flour is made by milling amaranth seeds into a fine powder. It contains higher amounts of many micronutrients than most other grains and pseudograins mentioned.
The flour is rich in vitamins and fiber and is gluten-free. It is highly nutritious and packed with proteins.
Not only is amaranth pretty expensive, but it has a high glycemic index which may interfere with blood sugar levels and is not best for dogs with diabetes. It also has what many describe as an earthy or grassy flavor which may not appeal to some dogs, but since most dogs do eat grass from time to time it’s probably more the human that won’t like it. It is a havier flour so you may have to combine it with a lighter flour like almond to get the right consistency depending on the treats you are making.
12. Millet flour
Millet is a common ingredient in many dog foods and is a small grain-like seed which while not the highest in protein and fiber is a great choice for treats due to consistency.
Millet is a source of carbohydrates and is high in B-vitamins, phosphorus, and iron, but it is easier to digest than whole wheat
Aside from acting as a filler, there aren’t many added nutritional benefits to including millet in dog treats.
Buckwheat flour is a pseudo-grain flour made from roasted buckwheat. This flour is a great source of dietary fiber, carbohydrates, and plant proteins. It also contains antioxidants.
Buckwheat has been shown to lower blood sugar levels by 12-29% and could be beneficial when included in treats for dogs that have diabetes.
There aren’t too many cons to using buckwheat in dogs treats, but still do so in moderation
14. Teff flour
Teff flour is not commonly added to dog foods or treats but is perfectly okay to be used as a flour alternative. It is a staple in many Ethiopian diets and has a nutty flavor. It has more iron than barley and more calcium than oats.
Teff flour is rich in fiber and protein and can be easily mixed with other gluten-free flours. It is a great choice for dogs that have sensitive stomachs since it is high in fiber and gluten-free.
The nutty, earthy flavor may deter some picky eaters
What are Grain fours?
Grain flours are made from grains that are members of the grass family.
15. Brown rice flour
Brown rice flour is made from finely ground brown rice and is rich in fiber with a light texture similar to white flour which makes it a favorite of many pet owners. Many pet food companies include brown rice flour in their formulations.
It is pretty easy to work with and may give similar results as regular white flour when baking. There is also not a strong taste to deter picky eaters.
There are not many downsides to including brown rice flour in your dog’s treats aside from possible allergies if your dog suffers from them.
16. Oat flour
Oat flour is a pretty common substitute for many flours because it is readily available and simple to make. If you have oats then you can quickly and easily make oat flour!
As with most of the flours mentioned, oat flour has protein and fiber which makes it good for dogs that may have some digestive upset with other flours. It has zero calories making it a great choice for pups that may need to lose a few pounds.
If your pup is allergic to oats or has a hard time digesting them then steer clear of this flour
17. Sorghum Flour
Sorghum is often classified as an ancient grain and is a good source of vitamins, minerals, plant-based proteins, and antioxidants.
The texture is super fine so it makes exceptional treats and is easily blended with other flours for various consistencies.
It is a grain so if you are concerned about feeding your pup grains steer clear
18. Whole-Grain Wheat Flour
This is currently one of the most popular flours that pet owners use to make their pets treats. While it isn’t simple to make at home it can be found in most grocery stores. Whole wheat contains a lot of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. If you decide to choose whole-grain wheat steer clear of white flour which has very little nutritional value because of the way it is processed. Wheat flour retains the bran or outer shell which is where the bulk of the nutrients come from.
It is prevalent and cost-effective. Whole-grain wheat flour is excellent for baking because it holds shapes well and is easy to work with. There is little taste associated with it making it a good choice for most pups.
It is not grain or gluten-free, if either of these are concerns for you use one of the other flours listed. Also if your pup can not tolerate gluten you may want to steer clear.
FLOURS YOU SHOULD NOT FEED YOUR DOG
- White flour – This provides little to no nutrients
- Soy – due to the processing it is not safe for pets
- Corn – Contains little to no nutrients