Monday, 3 December 2018
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{RECIPE} Merry Fishmas! Naturally Green Sardine Dog Treats

Green dog treats shaped like bones and Christmas trees on red and black polka dot napkins

It's beginning to smell a lot like Fishmas, everywhere you go... Oh my!  Super stinky and delicious, fishy treats are particularly irresistible to our boys. These are delicious and nutritious, with an all-natural green tint for an extra festive touch.  Pawfect for very good boys (or girls)! Woofs!

Dalmatian dog begging for green bone shaped dog treat

This recipe was adapted from our sardine and cheese dog treats, which you can easily use with the optional colour add-ins to create a green treat if you'd prefer to use a lighter single-egg dough. (see the tips at the end of post on alternative tinting). I often find that doughs made with chunk add-ins like pureed fish are difficult to cut smoothly and, being so low in fat, are prone to cracking/crazing. These combine to make a crackled baked treat. Still yummy, but I decided to play with an extra eggy dough and take advantage of the small puff of rise eggs give baked goodies to slightly smooth out the shape/surface. Egg doughs are sticky to work with, but they do bake and dry very well, plus eggs have excellent nutritional value.

Step-by-step instructions for making dog treats with tinned sardines

Merry Fishmas Sardine Dog Treats (Naturally Green!)

🥄 Treat Ingredients:

1 standard tin of water packed sardines*
2 eggs
1 tbsp chia seed (optional)
1/2 to 1 tsp spirulina powder (optional for colour)
1 tbsp wheatgrass powder or kale powder (optional for colour)
Approximately 1 to 1+1/4 cups of brown rice flour (plus extra for rolling)

* I've used a few different brands of water-packed sardines for various treats and the tins are similar size/volume but can vary a little in net weight (~100-125g). The affect on my doughs has been pretty negligible, and is easily compensated for with slight flour/water adjustments if your treat dough consistency needs a tweak for workability.

🥄 Making the Treats: 

Preheat your oven to 180C (or local equivalent) and gather together your baking ingredients and materials.

Empty the sardines and any packing water in the into into a food processor and puree until smooth. Pour into a mixing bowl and combine with the egg, chia, spirulia, and kale/wheatgrass (optional). Incrementally add flour until the dough has a nice workable play-dough like consistency. Flour quantity will depending your individual ingredients and options, so work incrementally. If it isn't firm enough or too sticky, add a touch more flour. If your mixture is looking a bit dry, you can add a little bit of additional water or a small drizzle of olive oil to adjust. 

Rest dough (optional).  Roll, cut, place on a prepared baking tray (or simply ball and flatten, if you prefer). Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes.  Cooking time will vary with size and thickness, so keep an eye on the oven.  Cool before storage and serving.

Tips and Tricks:
  • Variations in measurements, individual ingredient types, and options/substitutions as well as variations in egg size, temperatures, etc. are all  part of why we work incrementally when mixing. 
  • As noted in my Frankenbone Halloween dog treats, I find that spirulina creates a beautiful bright colour when unbaked (gummies, raw dough, etc.) but looses some of it's colourful uuumph when cooked in baked treats. In combination with a bright green wheatgrass, like these treats, it darkens the bright grassy green for a lovely finished colour even after baking.
  • Feeling like red instead? For a natural red tint, try combining beetroot and turmeric like our Cranberry Chicken Christmas Dog Cookies. Yummy!
  • Resting the dough is optional, but helps with the texture/handling of gluten-free baking dough. I like to rest briefly, then knead a little before final rolling and ensure it is well mixed. 
  • Treats can be broken for smaller dogs, or made bigger/smaller - just keep an eye on your cooking time - the smaller the cookie, the shorter the baking time.
  • For a crunchier treat, you can let baked treats sit a while in the cooling oven before removing to get a little crispier or pop the baked treats into a dehydrator.
  • These fishiliscious treats are best consumed within a couple of days from baking or frozen for longer storage. For more information, see our post on the shelf-life and storage of homemade baked dog treats.

Dehydrator tray with green dog treats shaped like bones and Christmas trees

🦴 Hungry for more tasty treats?  You can explore from our treat navigation page, hop straight into our homemade dog treat ideas in the blog archives, search the blog from our sidebar, or use the labels below this post to find other recipes that might be of interest. Remember, treats (bought or homemade) are for spoiling your pup in moderation. We share ideas here from treats that we make ourselves for our pets, but different animals will have different preferences (likes/dislikes) and dietary needs. Some pets may have special dietary requirements and/or food allergies/intolerances. If you are ever in doubt or have questions about what's suitable for your pet, have a chat with your trusted vet.

Dalmatian dog eating green bone shaped dog treat


  1. Hello! I've recently known your blog from punterest and loved all your recipe! They are mind blowing and lovely. But as i tried to make it. Why does it lost the green colour and turned to brown? It never looked so green to bwgin with and after I bake them only for approx 10mins, it turned to complete brown. Is it because i used wheat flour?

    1. Hmmm...Interesting! Pity - but dogs don't see green as green anyways, more of a brownish-yellow so the pups won't care! Hehe.

      It may be flour related. It may be that your colourful add-ins have a different strength and/or colour than the ones I use. For me, this dough started out a bright colour and only had a slight colour shift - raw was a bit of a cooler-toned green than post baked, but the baked treats were still brightly coloured.

      I don't use wheat flour in my baking, so I can't offer any expertise there; however, I have had issues with colour loss on some natural fruits/veggies and plant-based add-ins in other treat baking. Many raw greens (spinach, pea, kiwi, etc) go brownish when they are baked. :( That's actually why I combined the two add-ins here - I find that if I use just spirulina in dough then it gets a dark dingy green when baked (like my Frankenbones). I've shared more about tints in this post.

      Sorry that the colour didn't turn out for you, and that I can't be of more help. :( But remember, the dogs only care about the yummy smell/taste, not the festive shapes or colours of their treats. Woofs!

    2. Thanks for sharing your experience! I know, the taste is still good but i kinda wanna make it to the green like your post, hahaha.
      And i do also tried your strawberry marbled cheese that you make for canada day, and this time i used all purpose flour and when i mix flour into the pureed strawberry, it turned to reddish pink and 1 make it 1:1 for the flour and strawberry puree like you said in your post but its still sticky so i added flour when i roll them and they turned to soft pink and when i bake them, they turned to complete brown again. I still dont get how all your recipe can maintain their natural add in color. But yes, they still tasted good though.
      I'm just frustated about the colour!

    3. Ahh...something just clicked.

      Rice flour (brown or white) is not a direct 1:1 substitute for gluten flours like wholewheat or all purpose (also wheat). I just did a Google and the general absorption difference is something like 3:4 of rice:wheat; however, that's not the only difference. It also makes a totally different dough texture (thanks to the gluten) and have different needs for binding ingredients. Using more flour will stretch out the other ingredients, making a paler dough. It can also alter the cooking time/temp needs, and maybe your browning as well.

      A lot of the fruit/veggie based treats here have option add-ins if you want a stronger colour and better post-baking colour. Beetroot is my favourite to boost pink (I think its in the notes of the strawberry swirl recipe, but I make a note to check and add some extra notes/tips for clarity). You'll also see that I like to lightly bake and then dehydrate, which is another trick for holding colour.

      If you want to use a wheat-based flour and get a strong colour, it might help to try using more tint (powder or a dog-safe food colouring) as well as experimenting with your baking temp/time. White flours usually tint better but are less nutritious. Swapping a tiny bit of an acid, like apple cider vinegar, for some of the liquid can also help fruit/veggie tints hold their colour but that's not something I use when baking treats.

      I actually have some spirulina/wheatgrass tinted St. Patrick's Day treats in the freezer right now (the life of blog dogs is tough - always ahead of the calendar!) and they are also a very nice green. And some pretty heart shaped strawberry treats boosted with beetroot for lovely pink Valentines. Arrgh! I wish I could help you more, but hopefully your experiments will work out. Good luck!

  2. Oh dear. You have helped me more than enough! Thanks for sharing this details or else i would keep trying and ended up failing. Maybe thats also the reason why my dough is so sticky which leads to adding more flour and so on..
    I will try to make it again using rice flour this time and i will give you the updates of the results if it doesn't bother you.
    I never knew that flour can make that much difference since i have googled a lot of dog treats recipe and a lot of them mention "you can use any type of flour" so i did grab any flour and run a lot of test and fails miserably (sob)
    Trust me, adding food coloring did crossed my mind and i have to hold myself from using that because i wanna make it all natural hahaha
    Btw, your blog is so good you dont have to worry about it. I love reading your blogs and its like magical story book that i cant stop reading it. Hey maybe you can write a page about this so many people know how to make your recipe the right way? Or is it just me that fails? Lol
    And i have few more question:
    Does the texture of the treats turned crunchy after you bake them or after you dehydrate them?
    And how come your treats can be crunchy and evenly baked even if they are thick? Whats the texture of the result? Is it crunchy like biscuits or kinda soft like bread? My dough become too crunchy and kinda hard if its too thin and become like bread if its too thick but then again maybe its because of the gluten

  3. No worries at all. In fact, it is good timing as I am working on a little miniseries of FAQ tips/troubleshooting posts for early in the new year covering things about weaving, toy materials, treat ingredients, baking methods, dehydrating, storage, etc. If you have questions/ideas for the FAQ, you can comment here or easier still put together your ideas and email me direct at and I'll try to work them into the miniseries posts. :)

    Flour makes a huge difference in baking, both with consistency of the dough and properties during/after baking. I've tried baking a few gluten-free (human) cakes/muffins for friends with allergies. Oh my. Don't feel bad! It's tricky. Baking is where chemistry meets cooking. Yikes! There was a lot of experimenting when I started baking dog treats and some definite failures along the way.

    A lot of treat recipes use a whole lot of flour with a small amount of liquid/binder, but personally (except in cakes) I skip wheat flours in treats. I like to use more of the yummy stuff and less flour, plus some dogs are gluten sensitive so by creating recipes with gluten-free flours like rice, oat, coconut, buckwheat they're a potential treat idea for a wider variety of dogs. (Not all these are interchangeable either - especially the coconut - super absorbent!) Rice flour isn't overly nutritious, but I've found it to be a good consistent flour choice (white or brown) for making treat dough with a nice textures, especially if using for roll-and-cut. Just my personal preference.

    Beetroot (pink) and turmeric (yellow) powders are two powerhouse colourings that I love using. Big colour in small quantity, all naturally, and they add healthy goodness, too. They also combine to a sort of redish colour if you're trying to get a natural red. Pumpkin and sweet potato have a nice orange that tints the dough, and can be boosted with turmeric if you want a stronger colour. With greens, I usually combine ingredients with natural tint. Other than some babyfoods, nothing seems to stay green unless I use a powdered tint. Pinks and purples (like berries) I sometimes boost with a little beetroot or other tint as they tend to fade out when baked. Carob bakes brown.

    My treats come out of the oven with a texture sort of like a soft baked cookie. They cool firm, but are still kind of moist inside. They are yummy that way, but I usually like to dehydrate them into a crunchy treat. You may see some other treat recipes where they bake longer at a slightly low temperature to dry the treats. This works too, but I prefer the short baking approach. It give better colour, less surface cracking (common with low-fat treat dough), doesn't fry the little edges of shapes, and a nice consistent dry crunchy finish.

    Hope that helps! :)


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