Hey there, pawty animals! As the next instalment in our current FAQs, Tips, and Troubleshooting mini-series topic all about treats, it’s time to celebrate with cake! Here’s our introduction to making homemade dog-friendly cakes, pupcakes, and meatball treats for dog birthdays, special occasions, or just because. Woofs!
My First Homemade Pet "Treats"
The first homemade pet “treat” that I can recall making was not for a dog, but for a cat. When I adopted scrawny little rescue kitty Tiger sixteen years ago (he passed away earlier this year), I started making him a little birthday cat cake every year on his vet nominated birthday. Tiger was always very picky about what he would and would not eat, so every year we would celebrate with dinner in the form of his favourite wet food in a round cake-ish shape decorated with his cat biscuits and treats.
Oli’s early cakes were homemade casserole dish dinners with a candle. Nothing flashy, but doggone delish and he knew it was something special. Although I enjoy making my crazy cakes and the excitement our boys get from cake time, it’s important to note that special celebrations don’t require anything fancy, just lots of love and whatever makes you and your pet happiest.
Conventional Homemade Cakes and Pupcakes for Dogs
The process of preparing and baking a conventional dog-friendly cake is no different than baking for humans, and unless you’re using stock or meat/fish, the batter and resulting cake will be very similar to making a no-sugar low-fat human muffin. With the right flavour combination, you might even decide to share!
Dog-Friendly Cake Ingredients
When baking a conventional cake or cupcake and muffin style pupcake treats, flour will likely be one of the ingredients. Instead of typical human white cake flour or all-purpose flour, wholemeal flour can be used as a healthier upgrade for dogs without grain or gluten sensitivities. Alternatively, you can opt for a gluten-free flour. Ingredients like dog-friendly fruits and vegetables can be used to give the cake additional size without being an overload of low-value flour.
Most conventional cakes and pupcakes use leaveners to give them rise, which may include eggs, self-raising flour, baking powder, baking soda, etc. Baking with yeast is not recommended for dogs.
Ingredients such as eggs, chia seed, flax, etc. as well as many of the flavoursome add-ins below act as binders. Binders are what hold baked goods together and assist with texture, and are extra important when using gluten-free flours.
To give the cake a tempting scent and flavour, the recipe could include compatible combinations of stock, chopped cooked meat, chopped cooked or tinned fish, dog safe herbs and spices, peanut butter, carob, yogurt, cheese, coconut milk, dog-friendly fruits and vegetables, and more. These make the cakes yummy, of course, but can be used to make a somewhat healthier cake instead of just a pretty but low-value (especially for dogs) carb-loaded cake. See our post on choosing and using ingredients for homemade dog treats for more information and ideas.
Homemade Meatloaf Cakes and Meatball Treats for Dogs
A meatloaf style dog cake can be prepared using a doggy recipe, or you can easily adapt your favourite meatloaf or meatball recipe to a dog-friendly version.
Ingredients for Meatloaf Dog Cakes
Lean ground meat or fish is all that is required for a very basic baked “cake”, although you may want to use a small casserole dish instead of a cake pan. Including some binders and oats (and/or a suitable flour) can help substantially with moisture, texture, and holding shape once baked. Your imagination is the limit in creating a special cake with flavours and ingredients that your individual dog loves. Dog-friendly shredded vegetables and/or herbs and spices work well with meats and fish for additional texture, variety, scent, and flavour.
Baking Meatloaf Cakes for Dogs
Dense meat and fish cakes can be more difficult to remove from pans than conventional cakes. Choose your baking pan or dish with care and ensure it is well-prepped before use. I like using mini-spring form pans, but they still require careful removal.
Swapping Cakes for Easy Meatball Treats
If you want tiny bite-sized treats, meatballs are a good alternative to mini-muffins and fiddly tiny tins. Dog-friendly meatballs also make great treats in their own right. They’re easy to make, bake, store, freeze, and use in small quantities, either as treats or as special meal toppers.
Dog-Friendly Cake Frosting and Decorations
Homemade Frosting and Icing for Dog Cakes
Dog cakes and pupcakes can be frosted for extra special occasions. Use a dog-friendly frosting without all the sugar and fat of human icings.
For savoury meat and fish cakes, my current go-to dog-friendly frosting is mashed potato. It’s easy to work with, looks good, and our dogs can have a little in moderation every now and then no worries.
Some flavours, like yogurt, pureed pumpkin, and applesauce, can work for either meat and fish cakes or conventional cakes. You can also firm them up with some flour (coconut flour works well – it’s very absorbent so only a small amount is needed) for a better layering and decorating texture. Depending on the cake flavours, peanut butter, cream cheese, or unsweetened whipped cream can work too.
Tip: If preparing in advance, don’t ice your cake or pupcakes until shortly before you’re ready to serve. They be easier to handle, will store better unfrosted, and look better for the party. Freezing leftover cake for a future special snacks is a-ok though. See storage tips below.
Sprinkles, Decorations, and Cake Toppers
Want sprinkles on that? Potential dog-friendly sprinkles include small/ground dog-friendly nuts and seeds, grated cheese, crumbled cooked bacon, dog jerky, or even ready-made treats/kibble. Feeling crazy? Tinted panko, coconut, or oats can be used as a dog-friendly rainbow sprinkle substitute. See some of our dog birthday cakes for ideas.
Other dog-friendly decorations include small (or small pieces of) fruits, berries, vegetables, or dog treats. The latter can be used to make special edible cake toppers that look cute and your dog can enjoy instead of icky old candles. Can’t eat those – haha! Candles should only be used with great care around pets. Lit candles are hazardous around excited pets. Some pets also find them very scary.
Storing Homemade Dog Cakes and Pupcakes
Storing Conventional Dog-Friendly Cakes and Pupcakes
Conventional baked cakes and pupcakes are very similar to human muffins, and should be stored similarly for short term consumption. Shelf life will depend on individual ingredients and moisture content, but is very limited, unless frozen.
Many stable baked goods can be briefly stored in a suitable container (or wrapped) at room temperature, kept a little longer in the fridge, or frozen longer term. Allow them to cool thoroughly prior to container storage. Putting warm cakes into a contain will trap residual steam and/or moisture, which can accelerate spoilage. Once cool, transfer the treats to a suitable container.
If your cake or pupcakes contain ingredients like meat, fish, or are otherwise unsuitable for ambient storage, handle with extra care. They should be refrigerated short term or frozen for longer storage.
Storing Meatloaf Dog Cakes and Meatball Treats
Meatballs and meatloaf-style cakes are also no different than their human equivalents in terms of storage. They require refrigeration for the short term and freezing for extended storage. Shelf life is very limited, unless frozen. Pampered pups might like their meaty treats warmed before serving to enhance the scent and flavour. My boys will happily munch them cool (or even frozen), but warm and stinking is extra special!
Keen to Try a Few Treats?
Check out the full mini-series topic for an introduction to the main categories of different homemade dog treats we make and share here on the blog:
- Why (and How) to Make Homemade Dog Treats
- Frozen and Chilled Homemade Dog Treats
- Homemade Gelatin Gummy Dog Treats
- Homemade Dehydrated Dog Treats
- Homemade Birthday and Special Occasion Dog Cakes
- Homemade Baked Biscuit (Cookie) Dog Treats
- Decorating Homemade Baked Biscuit Dog Treats
- Homemade Baked Dog Treat Shelf Life and Storage
We have all sorts of treat related posts here on the blog. You can sniff around our DIY dog recipes, use our categories and tags to navigate, or use the internal search function to look for specific types or treats or treat ingredients. You can also hop over to our DIY Dog Treat Recipes board on Pinterest for ideas from here and all around the web. We’ve also started a Pet Chef Help board on Pinterest with handy links on things like ingredients, substitutions, conversions, tinting, and more.
🦴 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 or dislikes) and dietary needs. Some pets may have special dietary requirements and/or food allergies or intolerances. If you are ever in doubt or have questions about what’s suitable for your pet, have a chat with your trusted vet.