What is coconut flour? It’s the flesh of a mature coconut that’s been shredded, squeezed free of liquid (i.e., coconut milk), dried, then ground up into a meal or powder. Coconut flour makes an excellent gluten-free flour alternative to wheat-based flours.
But can you use coconut flour for making homemade doggie treats, for instance? Would that be safe for your dog? Can dogs eat coconut flour?
A taste of coconut
Absolutely! Lots of animals can eat and safely digest coconut meat — including dogs.
Aside from being a nutritious, gluten-free flour, coconut flour is great for making homemade grain-free dog treats, sweet or savory. It absorbs liquid very well, so it’s perfect for making crispy dog cookies. You just need to get used to how it forms a dough, as it initially feels different from doughs made with any grain flour. (But you’ll quickly get the hang of it!)
Once you gain more baking experience, you can get more adventurous and try substituting wheat flour with coconut flour in some homemade dog treat recipes.
You can experience how easy baking with coconut flour is by trying out the following dog treat recipes. (I make these every week or so for my dog!)
Recipe #1. Coconut-peanut butter dog biscuits
- Coconut flour, 1 cup
- Naturally sweetened peanut butter. 1/2 cup
- Medium-sized eggs. 2 pieces
- Water, 1/2 cup
First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C).
With a whisk, beat the eggs in a bowl. Add in the water and peanut butter, then whisk them well to combine until the mixture is smooth. Gradually add in the coconut flour, mixing until it is well incorporated and forms a dough.
Prepare a baking tray lined with baking parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Divide the dough evenly into 24 balls (each about an inch in diameter). Lay the balls, evenly spaced, on the tray.
Dip a fork in some hot water. Using that fork, press down on each of the balls to flatten them into small discs. (You will naturally make crisscrossing indentations on the top of each cookie.) If you prefer, you may shape them into little dog-bone shapes instead.
Bake the cookies in the oven for at least 20 minutes. For harder, crisper cookies, bake them for anywhere from 35 to 40 minutes. Let the cookies cool after baking before serving.
- Store the cookies in a glass jar, in a cool and dry place. These should last about a week.
- Of course, these are edible for humans, too. In case you want your cookies a little sweeter, just dip them in honey or a sweet chocolate drink. (But don’t feed those to your dog!)
- Peanut butter is safe for dogs only if it doesn’t contain any chocolate or xylitol (an artificial sweetener common in commercially-produced peanut butter), and if it’s not overly sweet. Use peanut butter that’s been sweetened with safe, natural ingredients like pasteurized honey or sugar-based syrup. Always check the list of ingredients on the back label of the peanut butter before buying any for your dog. Better yet, make homemade peanut butter!
Recipe #2. Savory bites
- Coconut flour, 1/2 cup
- Milk, 1 cup
- Pre-boiled carrots, 1/2 cup
- Pre-boiled chicken breast or thigh fillet, 1/2 cup
- Fried bacon (about 4 strips), broken into tiny pieces
- Grated parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons
- Chopped flat-leaf parsley, 2 tablespoons (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C).
In a large bowl, pour in all the ingredients. Gently mix until ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the “dough.”
Line a baking tray with baking parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat.
Using a tablespoon, scoop up portions of the dough (about 1 tablespoon each) and form them into little balls. Do this until all of the dough is used up. Place the balls onto the baking tray, making sure they are evenly-spaced. Then with the spoon, lightly press each ball down to form a thick disc-like shape.
Bake these in the oven for about 25 minutes or until they are done. Allow these to cool before serving to your dog.
- Store these savory bites in a glass jar in your refrigerator. These should last anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks. You can serve these to your dog cold or lightly reheated (use either a microwave or toaster).
- You can mix these savory bites with your dog’s regular dog food, too.
- And yes, these are good enough for humans, too! If you want them salty or hot, you can use soy sauce or chili-garlic sauce as a dip.
Nutritional benefits for dogs
So why is coconut flour a safe and sound ingredient for your dog’s food?
As I previously mentioned, coconut flour is unlike wheat four or any other grain-based flours because it’s made from coconut meat. This makes it gluten-free. It’s perfect for dogs that have a food sensitivity to gluten, which happens more often with dogs than humans. (Because they’re not as omnivorous as we are.)
You’ll know your dog is likely suffering from gluten sensitivity if he often has irritated or inflamed skin, ear infections, and digestion problems (i.e., vomiting and diarrhea). If so, consult a vet and review what kind of food you’re feeding your dog. You might be feeding him too much grain-based food, and may have to switch to products made with more animal-based protein and gluten-free flours (like coconut flour or rice flour).
Lower calorie count
Dog treats made with coconut flour generally have a lower calorie count than those made with denser, grain-based flours. Great-tasting coconut flour treats can help obese dogs adapt to a modified diet for weight loss.
Coconut meat is also rich in lauric acid, a type of free fatty acid. Lauric acid has anti-inflammatory properties and helps speed up the healing of wounds or aching joints.
Because coconut flour is shredded and dehydrated coconut meat, it has less lauric acid than fresh coconut. Nevertheless, it still carries a significant amount of it (about 0.20%).
If you have an older dog, feeding him with coconut flour-based treats (instead of other types of dog treats) could help ease his arthritis.
Coconut flour is rich in protein, fats, carbohydrates, and dietary fiber. It’s also rich in iron, providing about 20% of recommended daily allowance (for human adults). It also carries trace antioxidants that support the immune system (for both humans and dogs) and helps fight off infections.
Dogs can indeed eat anything made with coconut flour. For some dogs, it might even be a safer alternative to wheat flour (or any other grain flour) and a less fatty ingredient than nut flours.
If you make homemade dog treats with this gluten-free flour, you can create delicious coconut dog treats that both you and your dog can eat. (Ha! That’s if he’ll want to share them with you.)