Celebrating Pancake Day with pups? Let’s share a treat! Here are my recipe tips for making sharable homemade pancakes for dogs and their people. Our boys always have an eagle eye on cooking and baking, and pancakes are no exception. When we merged households years ago (when Oli got his “evil” stepmother”), I started adapting some of my cooking to allow a little less-guilty sharing of occasional treats in small quantities. Just a little. As a bonus, it’s often healthier for us humans to reduce our doggy no-nos like salt, fat, and sugar, too. Win win!
Pancakes were a childhood favourite growing up back in Canada. There’s nothing wrong with crêpes (also delish!) or thin hotcakes, griddlecakes, or flapjacks, but if I’m making homemade pancakes, then there’s an emphasis on the cake. I like my pancakes thick and cakey, especially with fruit or berries baked into the batter. I make them occasionally for a special family breakfast treat, but always try to find time on Canada Day and Pancake Day – even if it’s as lunch or dinner. For Canada Day, I like using red fruit, like chopped strawberries, in my batter to make things extra festive. And on the subject of extra festive, look at these handsome pups waiting for Canada Day pancake treats. I merged our Canada Day and Pancake Day pancake posts when the blog was reformatted here on our new site.
Celebrating Pancake Day
Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras) comes from the tradition of using up the remaining ingredients like milk and eggs before the start of Lent and fasting. One of the simplest ways to use those ingredients is to mix them with flour for pancakes. Over time, Pancake Day has taken on a variety of traditions. And probably more than a few myths and embellishments as well!
As a child, we’d usually have our Pancake Day pancakes in the evening since mornings were busy heading off to school. Mom followed the old tradition of baking tokens into the pancakes to predict your future, which made it extra special. If memory serves, a penny for poverty, a larger coin for richness, the potential hidden treasures a dime for a sailor (our Canadian dimes had the Bluenose sailing ship on them), thimble for a tailor, button for a bachelor, and a ring to be married. I think the large coin (always desirable as a kid) was a 25c piece back in the day, but now with arrival of $1 and $2 coins perhaps pancakes are paying out these days. Cut with care before eating, though. Haha! Either way, I’d recommend skipping the tokens if making pancakes for dogs.
Adapting Your Favourite Pancake Recipe for Sharing
If you’re planning to share your pancakes with your pups, there are a few adaptations that can help make your pancakes a little more dog-friendly (and potentially healthier for you, too). There are also a few safety checks on ingredients for suitable ingredients for dogs in general and for your specific dog.
Omit the Sugar
If your recipe calls for added sugar, consider leaving it out. You can easily adjust the sweetness of your own pancakes with toppings like maple syrup or extra fruit. When plating up the pancakes for dogs, skip the syrup (of course) and take care with any additional toppings like whipped cream. See the tips and tricks at the end of this post for more on plating and serving.
Skip the Salt
If your recipe calls for added salt, consider leaving it out. Most of us get more than enough.
Moderate the Fats
If the recipe calls for added fats or oils, consider whether they’re actually needed for baking consistency or are just extras. If it’s for taste rather than texture, you can always get your buttery flavour from a pat of butter on top of your pancakes if you’re hooked. Depending on how you cook the pancakes, also consider how much fat your pancakes absorb from butter or oil in the pan.
Check Your Other Ingredients for Safety and Suitability
Consider whether the other ingredients in your recipe are suitable for dogs and for your specific dog. For example, does your dog have any issues or intolerances to gluten (flour) or lactose (milk)? Do you include chopped fruit in your pancakes and, if so, is it safe for dogs? If in doubt, err on the side of caution and give your dog a different treat instead.
Keeping the Cake in Pancake
Some ingredients are easily omitted or substituted, while others can be trickier. I’ve made pancakes without eggs, with different liquids, with different add-ins, but they always have some form of flour or flour equivalent, like alternative flours or oats. See our post on ingredients for homemade dog treats for more information about different types of flours in baking.
If gluten is an issue, there are potential substitutions, but flourless pancakes are a lot trickier. Yes, there are recipes out there if you’re super keen on sharables or on a restricted diet, but some sort of pumpkin or banana omelette masquerading in the shape of a pancake isn’t really my idea of yum. Although the dogs might be interested. Haha! My recommendation? Skip the sharable pancakes and consider sharable sides or topping instead. Easy and still delicious!
Making Sharable Pancakes for Dogs and People
My Favourite Pancake Recipes
I don’t make pancakes very often anymore (trying to mind our carbs…), but when I do, I make them without adding sugar so I can indulge in my horded stash or Canadian maple syrup.
My homemade pancakes have many variations, but are usually based on a simple 1:1:1 mix ratio, scaled for the number of hungry humans and hounds – i.e. for every 1 cup of self-raising flour, I use 1 cup wet ingredients and 1 egg. Because I often use yogurt for part of my wets, the pancakes are usually extra thick and cakey. They’re also slightly denser, more nutritious, and more filling. If I’m not using yogurt, I’ll use less liquid or add a bit more flour to get a nice batter consistency. I don’t actually follow a recipe or use measuring cups when I make pancakes, relying on my “calibrated eyeball” instead, but here is a general example with rough measurements.
Example Pancake Ingredients:
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup plain thick set (Greek style) low-fat yogurt
- 1/2 cup milk or water
- Optional: sprinkle of ground flax seed
- Optional: small quantity of lemon juice or lemon zest
- 1 cup self-raising flour
- Optional: chopped fruit or other add-ins
- Toppings of your choice to serve
Wholemeal flour is healthier than standard white flour if you don’t mind the stronger taste and texture in your pancakes. Or you can use a blend. Self-raising flour of both varieties are readily available here, but you can easily make self-raising flour by adding baking powder or a baking powder/soda blend. Sometimes I also soak wholegrain oats in the liquid ingredients and use that with a reduced amount of flour.
Making the Pancakes:
- Whisk the egg in a small mixing bowl.
- Stir the yogurt, milk, flax (optional), and lemon zest/juice (optional) into the bowl.
- Add the flour and then lightly mix until just combined.
- Add chopped fruit (optional) or any other add-ins and fold through lightly.
- Let the batter rest briefly for a minute or two while you prep the pan.
- Heat a skillet (non-stick or with a small amount of oil/butter) over medium heat.
- Spoon mixture into the pan in pancake sized quantities.
- Cook for several minutes, until the bottom is lightly browned and the top has bubbled. Flip, and continue cooking until the bottom has lightly browned and the pancake is cooked through.
- Serve with maple syrup (humans only) or other toppings of your choice. We used yogurt, carob powder, and fresh mint for the pictured bone pancakes for dogs. See below for details.
Making Bone (or Other) Shaped Homemade Pancakes for Dogs
I generally don’t make pancakes for dogs, just sharables. The boys don’t usually get special shapes or toppings – just a little nibble or two of unseasoned pancake. For fancy fun for our pancake day post, these particular pancakes were made using a large bone-shaped biscuit cutter to shape the batter in the pan instead of being my usual free-form batter dollops. Of course, the dogs don’t care about the shape (especially since I cut them up to serve anyways), but it’s fun! You can do this for human pancakes, too. You’ll need a thick-ish batter though – a thin crêpe batter would just run right out under your cookie cutter.
Prepare a heat-safe cookie cutter with a spritz of cooking spray or wipe of olive oil, and then set it in the pan as a “dam” to hold the thick batter in shape. Once the outside of the pancake has set, you can remove the cutter (careful – it’s hot so use tongs) and continue cooking as above. If reusing the cutter, you’ll need to clean and reapply cooking spray before moulding the next pancake.
Dog-Friendly Pancake Toppings
The carob drizzle on the pictured pancakes is simply a carob powder mixed with a small quantity of melted coconut oil. Water or other dog-friendly liquid could be used instead of coconut oil, if you prefer. I also cut a few strawberries (fresh from our garden, as was the mint) into hearts. If you cut a vee-shaped notch where the stem is removed, then slice in half perpendicular to that notch, strawberries have a natural heart shape. A little dollop or yogurt or unsweetened fresh whipped cream and we have a doggone delicious gourmet mini pancake platter.
Tips and Tricks
- Cool your dog’s puppy pancake prior to serving.
- Consider cutting the pancake into small pieces before serving. This is a great way to accelerate cooling, but also prolongs the enjoyment. Otherwise, an uncut mini pancake might be a single mouthful for big eaters. Gulp! And on the subject of which, moderate consumption as with any treat. The pictured pancakes look extra big because of the camera perspective and tiny teacup plates. The boys don’t usually get special shapes or toppings either – just a little nibble or two of unseasoned pancake.
- Go natural or take care when shopping to avoid artificial sweeteners in ingredients like yogurt for your dogs. Xylitol (also identified as sweetener E967) is particularly dangerous for dogs.
- The lemon gives the pancakes a hint of extra flavour that goes great with some add ins (like blueberries – yum!) and can also boost the rise of the self-raising flour. It’s not required though, especially when using plain yogurt that already has a hint of zing. Leave it out if you or your pups aren’t keen or if you’re using add-ins that don’t pair well with the hint of lemon.
- Most varieties of culinary mint are safe for dogs in small quantities; however, mint is a herb that some dogs love, some hate. If your dog is the latter, skip it or swap it for something they enjoy. Or don’t be surprised if they leave it behind on the plate or the floor. Haha!
- If you’re using ready-made whipped cream instead of fresh, double check your ingredients for any sugars or sweeteners that might not be suitable as noted above.
Hungry for more tasty treats? There are all sorts of homemade dog treat ideas in our blog archives. You can use the category and tag labels to find other recipes that might be of interest or use our internal search tools to find something specific. Remember, treats (bought or homemade) are for spoiling your pup in moderation. We share ideas from treats that we’ve made ourselves for our pets, but different animals have different preferences (likes/dislikes), just like people. 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.