Here’s a recipe for a basic dog treat that anyone can make at home.
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 egg
- 1 cup water
But what if your dog has a wheat or corn allergy? Have you ever met, or owned, an itchy dog whose skin is scratchy and sensitive and scabby?
That’s likely a food allergy, my human friend, and sometimes wheat, corn or soy is to blame.
Key Wagner, a Baltimore resident who has been baking her own dog treats commercially for 14 years, agrees.
“I do have a wheat-free (recipe) and a corn-free now. That seems to be the trend,” said Wagner, who otherwise relies on her original recipes.
Wagner’s company, Baltimore Dog Bakery, wholesales homemade, preservative- and additive-free dog treats to local vendors, such as on Greenspring Drive in Timonium, on Tullamore Road in Mays Chapel, and three Wegman’s locations, including Hunt Valley.
Wagner’s treats are vegetarian. “Dogs get enough meat in their regular food,” Wagner said.
For the wheat- and corn-free treats, Wagner uses brown rice flour and rye.
“It tastes like a rye crisp. It’s good!” Wagner said. “If there is ever a hurricane or an earthquake outside, I’ll have plenty to eat in here. It’s all natural.”
Sampling your own homemade dog treats is as acceptable as sampling your own homemade soup, if you’re using natural, human-grade ingredients.
Don Twine, of Essex, is a fan of sampling his homemade dog treats, too.
That’s probably because his come in flavors, such as “Cheesy Baked Potato.”
All of Twine's treats are wheat-, corn-, and soy-free, because of his pet Beagle’s allergies.
“Bailey is our little doggie with the allergies,” Twine said. “He has really bad skin allergies. We were trying to find a good kibble that worked for him, but he was still itching. I started making treats for him. I just didn’t trust what I found in the stores.”
Twine got busy both on Google and on his stovetop, researching recipes online and tweaking them in his kitchen. Bailey, along with Ruby and the new puppy, Emmy, happily taste-tested Twine’s creations.
Twine didn’t mind doing some of the tasting himself.
“The tastiest one for me is the ‘Cheesy Baked Potato,’” Twine said. “In doing a lot of experimenting with that one, I was doing a lot of tasting myself.”
Twine’s recipes have little or no salt and sugar, and his treats are double baked to make them extra dry and crunchy, and to give them a longer shelf-life. He admits that while they smell amazing while they’re cooking, they taste—to humans—quite bland.
But they contain some powerfully healthy ingredients.
“Our vet actually told us to give the dogs canned pumpkin,” Twine said. “It works both ways, for diarrhea and constipation.”
So Twine’s “Pumpkin Spice” treat became the super-food recipe, high in fiber, high in protein, and good for the dogs’ digestive systems -- containing rolled oats, rice flour, and flax seed meal as well as pumpkin.
“But ‘Peanut Butter’ is probably our biggest seller,” Twine said.
Take note: dogs can be allergic to their food for more reasons than just the wheat or corn flour.
“There are definitely animals who have gluten allergies just like humans,” said Dr. Christine Gernhart, a veterinarian and owner of .
But she added that many dogs with allergies are reacting to the proteins in their diets, not the carbs. Specialized diets for allergic dogs include novel proteins like venison, rabbit, duck, and even kangaroo.