If you go to the trouble of making your dog's treats from scratch, you want him to enjoy them. You may even want to add a dash or two of your favorite spices to enhance the flavor. But then you have to decide whether to use fresh spices or dried. When your dog is concerned, don't sweat the question of the spice. For him, less is more.
Fresh vs. Dried
When it comes to shopping for spices to add to dog treats, neither fresh nor dried is superior. Fresh spice will add more depth of flavor than dried, but the flavor that dried spices provide is more concentrated, so you'll use less. Most of the bigger supermarkets carry a wide selection of dried spices, but very few if any fresh spices, because transportation and storage can affect the flavor and color of fresh varieties. Some exceptions you might be able to find at the store are fresh garlic, gingerroot and nutmeg. And there's sure to be a few specialty or gourmet shops that might carry less common fresh spices like cloves, cinnamon and saffron.
Dogs Don't Need It Spicy
So you've made your decision between fresh and dried spices but don't overdo it. Spices don't make a biscuit any more or less appealing to your dog, and some spices like mace, tumeric and paprika can make him sick. Even foods containing dog-safe spices can cause vomiting and diarrhea if they're overly spicy, so spice it sparingly when cooking for your dog.
Some Dog-Safe Spices
The list of spices safe to feed your dog is a short one. You can feel secure adding spices like cinnamon, ginger, poppy and sesame seeds to treats for your dog. Some dog treat recipes call for fresh garlic or garlic powder, and some commercial dog foods and treats list some form of garlic as an ingredient. But that's a gray area becuase garlic is from the same family as onions, a well-known toxin for dogs. When in doubt it's always best to play it safe and not add garlic to treats for your dog. He won't mind, and at least you won't be compounding doggy breath by adding garlic to it.
If you're certain your canine craves a delicious spice cookie, you can whip up a batch of cinnamon-ginger biscuits that would please any pooch's palate. Just mix 1/2 cup each of wheat and white flour with 1 teaspoon of dried ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of dried ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of honey and 2 or 3 tablespoons of water until it forms a stiff dough. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if the dough is too crumbly to stick together. Roll the dough out on the countertop and cut it into shapes with a knife or a cookie cutter, then place the cookies on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake the cookies at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes, then allow them to cool before feeding them to Fifi.
- The Doggy Bone Cookbook; Michele Bledsoe
- Divine Dog Treats: Recipes for a Happy, Healthy Pet; Wendy Liou
- Dog Channel.com: Herbs for You and Your Dog
- ASPCA: Spices
- University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine: Thanksgiving Tips Your Dog Will Thank You For
- Minnie Taylor: Cooking: With Herbs and Spices
- Handbook of Spices, Seasonings, And Flavorings; Susheela Raghavan
- The Complete Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat; Juliette de Baïracli Levy
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images