Drew is an avid dog treat baker with an enthusiastic taste-testing Labrador.
Why I Use Kelp
While it is not essential to this recipe, kelp adds special nutrition that is hard to find in commercial products. I made this recipe with Kombu, a Japanese-style dried kelp, but it would work with other kinds as well.
Kelp is a great ingredient for keeping your dog's coat and nails healthy. It also contains essential iodine. It aids in digestion and adds an umami flavor dogs love.
Warning: Too much kelp can be a bad thing, which is why it is a perfect ingredient for a treat, but not really a treat in itself. Too much of it can lead to hypothyroidism. My dog rejects kelp by itself anyway, but you should check with your own vet.
More importantly, kelp is a carbon sink, so the more we can displace land-based agriculture with sea-based farming, the better off the earth will be. These vegan dog treats are a great way to replace carbon-intensive meat-based treats with treats that actually help capture carbon.
Kelp grows easily in underwater forests without the inputs of fertilizer or pesticides. It is grown on long ropes. It can grow as much as two feet a day! This rapid growth makes it an ideal food source for dogs or humans. It has been eaten for thousands of years and is growing in popularity as a superfood. In humans, it helps control diabetes and anemia while promoting thyroid health.
Most grocery stores will sell kelp as either Nori, which is toasted seaweed that is used for sushi, or Kombu, which is raw seaweed. Both are usually near other Asian foods.
The other ingredients are safe for dogs, gluten-free, and easy to find.
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Rice flour gives the treats a nice crunch that dogs love without adding gluten which can be harder for dogs to digest. You will see rice as an ingredient in many dog foods for this same reason. If you do not see rice flour in your grocery store, check the gluten-free aisle. It is probably there. If, not, it is easy enough to buy it online and have it shipped to your door.
I use the Goya brand because it is easy to find and a consistent product, but there are also many other brands you might find in an Asian grocery store.
Dogs love peanut butter, so it is a great flavor enhancer.
Note: Some (honestly, very few) peanut butters contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs. You are best off checking the ingredients of the peanut butter. The fewer the ingredients the better.
- 2 cups of rice flour
- 2 sheets of Kombu kelp or seaweed
- 4 tablespoons of peanut butter
- 1/3 cup of rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- Place the sheets of Kombu in the water to soften.
- Once soft (5 minutes), mince the Kombu with scissors or a knife.
- Place the minced Kombu back in the water. The pieces can be quite small (the size of a grain of rice). Preserve the water to use in the recipe. This is because the seaweed has a coating dried on it that has important nutrients and flavor essential for this recipe.
- Add the other ingredients to the kelp and water in a large bowl and stir until well mixed.
- Roll out the dough on parchment until half a centimeter in thickness.
- Using a knife or a pizza cutter, cut the dough into small squares (smaller for small breeds, larger for large breeds).
- Place the parchment with the dough on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes, then lower the temperature to 270 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes. The goal is to get all of the water out of these treats without burning them. You want them crisp and dry so they store well.
- When they are cool, break them apart where you cut them with the pizza cutter. They should easily break along these lines and make good-sized treats.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2022 Woodson