Dog is truly man’s best friend. A dog is always happy to see you, often eager to show it by jumping or barking in its excitement. We love our dogs and they love us. They are eager to play or go for a walk. They are quick to comfort, often licking our faces or just placing their head in your lap. One way we show appreciation is by providing treats. It’s one way we give our pets a little love or for a job well done.
Dog biscuits are called such simply because dogs of yesteryear were usually fed hard bran bread or hardtack which were biscuits sailors took with them on long journeys. According to Wikipedia, a man named James Spratt observed dogs feeding on such bread in London in the 1800’s and decided to come up with something specifically designed for dogs that could be their primary food source. Shortly thereafter, he introduced his dog biscuits, made up of wheat meal, vegetables and meat and shaped into a square. It was a dog biscuit but had such sustenance that a few biscuits were easily used as the meal for a dog. By 1890, production had begun in the United States and was soon known as the food to give to show dogs. His biscuits were known by many names such as Fibrine Biscuits, Dog Biscuits or Dog Cakes to name a few.
In 1907, American inventor Carleton Ellis came up with the idea of making dog biscuits in the now-iconic shape of a bone. At the request of a slaughterhouse owner looking for something to do with waste milk, milk that is unsuitable for selling for human consumption, he devised the recipe for a milk-based dog biscuit. Ellis claimed, however, his dog did not like the biscuit – until he baked the biscuit in the shape of a bone. In 1908, bone-shaped biscuits were released by the F. H. Bennett Biscuit Company and were called Maltoids. It is unclear exactly when the name was changed, but sometime between 1915 and 1926 they became known as Milk Bones due to the high content of cow’s milk.
In 1931, Bennet Biscuit Company was acquired by the National Biscuit Company (now Nabisco). The dog biscuit was the only product carried over after the acquisition. Over the next few decades, the Milk-Bone was expanded to include a number of different flavors, such as chicken and beef. The marketing focus was also shifted from Milk-Bone being merely a dog treat to a product that promoted cleaner teeth and better breath. Nabisco, under the ownership of Kraft Foods, sold the Milk-Bone rights over to Del Monte Foods of San Francisco, California, in May 2006. It sold again to J.M. Smucker Company in 2015. For years, Milk Bones dominated the market, but in the 1970’s other competitors started making dog treats. Today’s market has hundreds of options for dog owners to choose from.
After World War II, dog biscuits transitioned from being dinner for dogs to being used as a treat or even dessert. Today’s dog biscuits have a much higher fat and calorie content than the original dog biscuits of Spratt’s time. This has helped contribute to more obesity in dogs. There are also added colors and artificial flavorings and preservatives in the current dog treats on the market.
This week, I want to share some easy biscuit recipes for our four legged friends. These days, you hear all kinds of horror stories about what is or isn’t in your pets treats and food. From treats made with rubber and plastic to treats made with the same ingredients as antifreeze, it’s hard to know what is truly safe when you pick it up from the store. However, if you make your own, you will know exactly what goes into them. Biscuits aren’t difficult to make and are pretty hard to mess up. Since most of them are hard anyway, you really want to overbake most of them. If you have older dogs and want a softer treat, for any recipe but the first one, roll the dough out thicker and don’t bake quite so long or bake them more like cookies, round and thick. Get out the cookie cutters and have the kids help. A word of warning though, too much flour and the dogs will not be as eager to eat them. So even when you roll them out, go easy on the flour. Then, meet me in the kitchen for treats your dog will go bow wow over, I know my dogs love them!
-1 cup creamy peanut butter ¾ cup milk ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce 2 cups wheat flour 1 Tbsp. baking powder ⅓ cup old fashioned oats 2-3 strips cooked bacon, crumbled Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. In large bowl, gently mix peanut butter, milk and applesauce together with rubber spatula. Add flour and baking powder. You may need to use your hands to work in flour. Mix in oats and bacon. The dough will be thick and heavy. Scoop dough using cookie scoop or tablespoon. Arrange on baking sheets and flatten slightly. Bake for 18 minutes, or until very lightly browned on the bottom. Remove from oven and flip the treats to bake the other side for another 12 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving to pup. Cover and store leftovers at room temperature for up to 1 week or in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Recipe from sallysbakingaddiction. com.
-½ cup creamy peanut butter ⅓ cup milk 3 Tbsps. unsweetened applesauce 1 cup whole wheat flour ½ Tbsp. baking powder 3 Tbsps. oats Preheat oven to 325°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. In large bowl mix peanut butter, milk and applesauce together. Add flour and baking powder to peanut butter mixture and stir to combine. Turn mixture out onto lightly floured surface. Using hands, gently knead oats into dough. Press dough into rectangle (about ½ an inch thick). Using your hands to press out dough may be easier than using rolling pin. Using cookie cutter, cut dough into biscuits of desired shape. Place onto prepared cookie sheet. Bake 30 minutes. Allow to cool on pan 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Recipe adapted from animalhumanesociety. org.
– 1 cup pumpkin 2 eggs ¼ cup creamy peanut butter 2½ to 3 cups whole wheat flour Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. In medium mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs and peanut butter. Stir well to mix. Add 2.5 cups flour and stir to combine. Dough should be about consistency of play-dough: soft and easy to roll out, but not wet and sticky. Add more flour as needed to reach this consistency. Divide dough into 2 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll out on floured surface until it is 1/2-inch thick. Cut dog treats into squares using knife. Place treats on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, gathering and re-rolling the scrap dough until all dough is used. Bake 20 minutes or until cooked through. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for 3 months.
Recipe from blessthismessplease.com.
— Sweet Potato Dog Biscuits
1 sweet potato, you are going to need a cup so you can go with a smaller one unless you have a use for the rest or if you want to double the batch.
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce 2 eggs Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Prick sweet potato several times with a fork. Heat sweet potato in microwave on high until tender, about 6 minutes. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut potato in half and scoop flesh out of the skin into bowl and discard skin. Mash potato with fork and transfer 1 cup to large bowl. Save any remaining sweet potato for another use. Mix flour, applesauce and eggs in large bowl with sweet potato until dough forms. Turn dough out on floured surface and roll dough to about ½ inch thick. Cut out shapes using cookie cutter. Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheet. Bake until crisp, 35 to 45 minutes. Turn off oven and let cool overnight.
Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.