Melissa cares for a variety of exotic animals and has completed a certificate in veterinary assisting and a bachelor's degree in biology.
Many pet owners that opt to make homemade treats for their dogs and other pets often use wheat flour as the base ingredient. With cooking baked goods, an ingredient like this is necessary to bind the other the ingredients (eggs, spices, etc.) together and form the main bulk of the treat.
In pet food that comes in a pellet form, binding agents are always either grain- or starch-based. Such filler ingredients may include potatoes, cornmeal, oats, tapioca, wheat, and rice. There is much debate on which of these is the healthiest, with corn and wheat typically being denounced among dog nutritionists as a major ingredient.
However, these ingredients are common in many dog treats. As long as they aren't fed in excess, they are not likely to cause damage to your pet's health. However, are there any alternatives to these ingredients that are appetizing to pets, cook to a decent consistency, and also possess qualities that might be beneficial for dogs, cats, and other animals to consume?
Coconut Flour Is a Good Alternative
The answer lies with coconut flour. Coconuts offer plant-based nutrition that is calorie-dense and nutritious. Coconuts contain the beneficial fatty acid Lauric Acid. Coconut products have been said to improve digestion, thyroid function, metabolic mechanisms, and provide protection and defense against viral, pathogenic, fungal, and bacterial infections; however, more study is needed to prove any benefits.
The other types of coconut products include the following:
- The fibrous cover of coconuts is something I also value as a soil additive for plant growing.
- Coconut milk is a wonderful food which I have used in the past as a milk substitute treat for my baby spotted genet during a bought of illness.
- Many claims have been made about coconut oil as well, but similarly, there is insufficient evidence to promote that substance for health problems other than maybe skin issues (as a moisturizer). While pets do love the taste of coconut oil, it should be fed in moderation, if at all.
- Coconut Oil for Pets: Numerous Benefits
The many benefits of coconut oil aren't just for people. This highly useful substance can aid in healing injuries and ailments as well as having use as substantial nutritional support for animals including mammals, reptiles, and more.
Coconut flour is extremely dense with nutrients, which is why less of it is required when cooking with it. It is a good source of protein and iron, and it is "low-carb," giving it a low glycemic index or GI.
A high GI has been said to contribute to diabetes and weight gain in dogs (however, sufficient evidence is needed to prove this). The flour contains more protein per serving than other popular flours without the damaging gluten, making it also a wonderful supplement for non-meat-eating animals (for example, I have prepared recipes with it for my green iguana).
Some Nutrition Facts Comparisons
|Nutritional Qualities (100 g serving)||Calories||Soduim||Gluten Free?||Dietary Fiber||Glycemic Load||Protein|
Wheat Flour (white, enriched, bleached)
Whole Grain Wheat Flour
You may have heard a lot about fiber and the unfortunate deficiency of it in the diets of humans. Fiber is also important and beneficial in the diets of dogs and other animals. For senior dogs, fiber is even more important. Just be sure to watch the calories on older dogs that might be struggling with weight problems.
Fiber, in addition to improving gastrointestinal health, reduces the absorption of sugar into blood stream and lowers cholesterol. Coconut flour has 58% fiber; in comparison, whole wheat flour has 12.2%.
Some Pet Treat Recipes
- How to Make a Cake for a Cat (Healthy Coconut Flour Recipe)
How to make a birthday celebration cake for your pet cat with healthy coconut flour.
- Healthy Sweet Potato Pie Recipe for Pets
Healthy holiday meal ideas for pets, including recipes for pet-friendly cranberry sauce and sweet potato or pumpkin pie.
The Benefits Are Worth the Extra Cost
Coconut flour is more expensive than all other regular flours. This is due to the production differences with the meat of an r-selected species (a species that produces many offspring at a low cost) vs. a k-selected species (the coconut palm only produces a few large seeds a year).
But the cost can be worth it, as coconut flour is a delicious alternative to other ingredients when making homemade treats for animals, and you can feel good about serving your creations to them. Currently, very few—if any—manufacturers utilize this great ingredient in store-bought treats, but hopefully this will change.
Swapping Wheat Flour for Coconut Flour
- Baking with Coconut Flour — Nourished Kitchen
Have you heard about the benefits of baking with coconut flour? As the interest in grain-free diets continues to rise, many cooks are looking to use coconut flour.
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.
Tmi607 on September 10, 2016:
Just baking some coconut flour cookies now! Only thing about using coconut flour in baking is it needs a lot more liquid than other flours so I add water along with my other wet ingredients (eggs, Greek yoghurt, peanut butter)
Trina on August 19, 2015:
I have been cooking for my chocolate lab mix, Nugget, for a little over a year! Your information helped to inspire me to start my own business making and selling homemade, Grain free, natural dog and cat treats. Being a stay at home mom of two children under 4, I can not afford to go back to work. This has allowed me to earn an income doing something I am passionate about. Your blog is one that i was able to learn about the wonders of coconut flour! Then I realized a lot of people would love to cook for their pets but simply don't have the time. Being home, I do! Thank you for your inspiration!!
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Jamie on May 17, 2015:
Very interesting information.
Thank you for sharing.
I was searching for dog's & cat's.
Coconut wheat flour
Hopefully we will see this in more products for ALL
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 17, 2014:
Thanks Gypsy Owl, this flour is great for humans too!
Deb Bryan from Chico California on September 17, 2014:
Thank you! I didn't read this for my pet. I have been searching for gluten free flour options. This one will go on the top of my favorites list. I've never heard of it or tried it. I have been using coconut oil (cold pressed). Thanks again! Deb
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 09, 2014:
Glad this helped you titi6601.
titi6601 on March 09, 2014:
I am going to start baking my dogs treats. Thanks for this useful information.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on November 30, 2013:
Wonderful jacksson47, take care.
John Reeder from Reedley, CA on November 30, 2013:
Good article, I sent it to my wife. We have a very coconut oriented home and our pet participates in the goodies along with us. She loves virgin coconut oil in her food dish.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 03, 2013:
Glad to hear that ladydeonne. I will continue to update it.
Deonne Anderson from Florence, SC on June 03, 2013:
Very informative hub. I have started making doggie treats for my 2 dogs, Yogi and Gypsie. I have book marked this hub and will refer to it often.
Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 01, 2013:
Thanks a lot Eiddwen!
Eiddwen from Wales on March 01, 2013:
Very interesting indeed.
I vote up and share.