Kali’s Vegan Dog Biscuits

by L Matthews on October 10, 2012

tiny kali puppy

Three broken toes and abandoned at 6.5weeks at the SPCA. Still fighting bears though, little scrapper.

Way back when I longed to adopt a pooch I had grand aspirations that, when I did, said pooch would be totally vegan and a shining example of doggy veganicity. Throw at me your arguments about natural diets for a dog, how it’s instinct, how they neeeeeeed a raw meat diet to survive and I’ll see your argument and raise you some sense and a whole heap of, ah, well, evolved thinking rather than repetitive Darwinian claptrap about things just being the way things are because, well, that’s the way they are. Yes, scrawny wild dogs may eat that stuff but that does not mean a healthy house-living beach-frolicking pooch needs to go days between bad-for-the-colon protein-heavy meals and not eat vegetables.

You think my dog is deprived… ask her to sit pretty for a homegrown cucumber slice. Then spend four hours playing on the beach with her. I see my four-legged friend living a long and healthy vegan life, not scrounging for flesh in some forest and then dying after a few sad and scrawny years. Call me progressive, I can take it.

Vegan Dogs

Having a vegan dog is not easy, mainly because it means you have little choice between commercially produced vegan dog foods and are a bit stuck if the one your pooch likes is suddenly unavailable. Cooking your own dog food from scratch really does mean that you have to learn a bit about dog nutrition (a woefully understudied field) and ensure that the meals you make are fresh, exciting enough for them to actually eat and have all the nutrients needed for their life-stage.

Vegan Puppy

Kali's photoshoot 2011

The day the cast and collar came off and puppy got to roll in the grass and chase things for the first time in months.

Growing puppies need more protein, and tend to need more bone-building minerals and, whilst many dog foods are lacking in these, such vital ingredients tend to be well supplied in tailored puppy foods. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any vegan puppy food so I had to get creative. VegeDog supplements mixed with quinoa, steamed vegetables and tofudogs became a staple meal for baby Kali. As she was healing from broken toes (she’s a rescue, we got her, sad and broken, at 8wks), calcium, magnesium, protein and a whole heap of other things were very important to ensure things got fixed and poor sad pooch could get out in the sunshine and meet some doggy friends asap.

Cooking Vegan Dog Food from Scratch

A process of trial and error began, accompanied by plenty of googling of ‘is [blah] toxic for dogs.’ Kali loves carrots, kale chips, peanut butter (but not too much), veganaise, tofu dogs, cucumber, chickpeas (my god, does she ever love chickpeas), and will now dance for a podded pea fresh from the garden. In summer she has fresh strawberries, apples and blueberries, which help control allergies due to their quercetin content. Getting busier with writing work means, however, that her meals are kibble-based now (we use Natural Balance Vegan Formula, scroll down past the duck and venison dog food for the Vegetarian/vegan formula), mixed with something tasty like peanut butter, tahini, mashed potato and nooch or just a vegetable medley.

However, I’m now working with an incredible group of people who are passionate about animal health to create a nutritionally-sound line of plant-based dog food and really explode the old myths of how to feed your dog. It’s exciting to be involved in this revolution in canine health, with educational webinars featuring vegan veterinary experts, alongside TheDoggess and the newly forged Go Indogo team.

Vegan Dog Treats

I’ll admit, training can be tricky as there aren’t many vegan foods that are as stinky and easily shredded into tiny bite-size pieces as some of the meaty treats available in stores. Tofurky slices work well, as do little bits of tofu dog, carob drops, halved chickpeas, and kale chips. The dearth of good vegan dog treats in the shops meant that I made my own, spending a few hours several afternoons making batch after batch of vegan dog biscuits. Some fun cookie cutters meant that these became Kali’s Vegan Bat Biscuits, to go with her batdog tag (now, alas, lost). These made excellent Christmas presents for her (my) doggy friends who found that they were a great and fairly longlasting treat straight from the freezer. Loaded with B vitamins, chromium, protein, phosphorus, potassium, iron, bioflavonoids (including quercetin), vitamin E, fatty acids (but no cholesterol!), and also super tasty and easy to make, these vegan dog biscuits have become a staple of the happy pooch’s diet this last year. Sadly, my computer found them so delicious that it ate all the pictures… more coming soon.

Kali’s Vegan Bat-Dog Biscuits

Kali the mud puppy

MOAR FRISBEE! Mud is a staple part of my pooch's diet, but it is not a recipe ingredient.

  • 4 cups wholewheat flour (or a mix of rice and quinoa flour for gluten-free dog biscuits)
  • 2 tbsps apple sauce
  • 2 tbsps peanut butter (smooth is best for ease of mixing and cutting into treat-size pieces)
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt (or none if peanut butter is salted)
  • 2 1/2 cups water (or thereabouts)
  • 1/2 cup molasses

The Method to the Madness

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a couple of baking trays with parchment or flour the trays if you’re making harder (kibble-like) vegan dog treats.

  1. Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large(ish) bowl
  2. Mix the apple sauce, peanut butter and molasses in another bowl, with about half of the water.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients to form a dough, adding a little extra water if necessary to bring it together.
  4. Roll out the dough to about a 1/4 inch thick and either cut out cookie shapes to amuse your dog’s mouth or simply chop line after line and row after row of little squares to bake as mini vegan dog treats.
  5. Larger cookies will take around fifteen minutes to cook, smaller treats take around ten if you still want them slightly chewy. Leave the trays in the oven overnight to harden the biscuits and make sure that you bake them at the size you’ll want to feed them to your dog as they are pretty crumbly if you try to break smaller bits off larger cookies.
  6. max and ruffy's vegan dog treats

    If time/inclination doesn't allow you to make homemade vegan dog treats then these are also pretty good.

  7. Once cooled, bag them up in small batches and store in the refrigerator (good for around five days) and freezer as needed.

If you’re feeling particularly meditative it’s nice to roll little pieces of the dough into tiny balls and then squish them flat to make little vegan dog kibbles for your pampered pooch. Got a podcast to listen to, or some vegan poetry? Here’s something to keep you occupied while you do so. Hope you have fun making this vegan dog biscuit recipe: tried and tested on a (mostly) vegan pooch, and several non-vegan pooches too!

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Leave a Comment

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nadine October 11, 2012 at 17:34

Great recipe. Thanks for the post. We are bringing home a pup next week and are excited to have a new addition to the family. Will be making these treats this weekend!

bitt October 24, 2012 at 10:44

my pups are vegan too! they love max and ruffy’s.

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