Tasty turkey for the barkday boy! We’re celebrating Humphrey’s 9th birthday with turkey and apple meatloaf cake. Humphrey’s birthday wishes are coming true for sure! Sniff your way into our dog treat kitchen for the full turkey dog birthday cake recipe and decorating details. It’s a very easy recipe, and can be used for making dog-friendly cakes or switched up for meatball treats instead.
Talking Turkey...and Taurine
Turkey is a moderate purine meat so something that we can include in our purine moderated diet. It used to be something that we would pick up at the supermarket for making special treats, but unfortunately, in recent years it’s become very hard to find. It’s also expensive. If you can’t find turkey or it’s out of your baking budget, you can substitute another lean ground meat of sniff around our other dog birthday cakes.
Dark turkey is a powerhouse food source of taurine, so we went searching for it after Humphrey’s heart diagnosis. His treatment includes taurine supplementation, but we’re also making a conscious effort to bump up his taurine-rich foods to increase his intake with both natural food and supplemental methods to try to ensure good bioavailability. The ground turkey used here was ordered online from a specialist supplier Canter Valley. We buy turkey thigh cubes for Humphrey’s breakfast toppers from our local Raw Essentials shop. Neither of those are referral links, just dropping some shout-outs and info in case it helps our kiwi furfriends find their turkey fix.
Mixing and Customising Meatloaf Cakes for Dogs
Meat-based cakes for dogs can be as simple as a prepared piece of meat (like our cake-less steak cake) or baking ground meat into a cake-like shape (like our limited ingredient surf’n’turf cakes), but making a dog-friendly meatloaf mixture is my trusty go-to method. Including an ingredient like the wholegrain oats in this mixture helps to soak up all those tasty meaty juices and helps everything selt firm and handle well after baking. Extra ingredients like fruits, vegetables, or seasonings can be added to complement flavours and scents, add a wider variety of nutrients, adjust the richness of the cake treats, or just for the fun of it. You could experiment with anything that suits your preferences and your pup, just remember to keep the cake-smashes to moderated serving sizes. Meatloaf cakes refrigerate and freeze well for storage, too.
Turkey and Apple Meatloaf Dog Birthday Cake Recipe
Homemade Dog-Friendly Turkey Layer Cake with Mashed Potato Frosting
Layering and/or frosting a cake is optional. It’s tricky to layer a cake without some sort of frosting between the layers, so we’re using a little bit of mashed potato for this turkey layer cake and leaving the rest of the cake unfrosted. The recipe below fits two mini springform pans (affiliate link). They were filled perfectly to the brim in my case, but extra can be used to make meatballs if you find yourself short on space. We usually use a slightly smaller portion of lean meat, but the turkey packet was 400g and I used the full amount in my mixture. The recipe can be baked in different pans or the whole mixture could be made into dog-friendly meatballs, if you prefer individual nibbles to a full cake.
Turkey Meatloaf Cake:
- Approximately 300-400g lean ground turkey (or other meat of your preference)
- 1 apple
- Handful of fresh spinach (optional) or other dog-friendly greens/herbs
- 1 cup wholegrain oats
- 1 egg
Optional Frosting and Decorations:
- Cooled cooked mashed potato or dehydrated mashed potato flakes (instant mashed potato)
- Water to adjust the consistency of the potato if/as needed
- Optional dog-friendly edible decorations or garnish
Making the Cake:
- Preheat your oven to 180C (or local equivalent) and gather together your baking ingredients and materials. Lightly oil your pan(s).
- Wash your apple and spinance, then process in a food processor (affiliate link) into a coarsely pureed mixture. For small batch baking like this, I like to use a mini food processor (affiliate link) for convenience and minimal clean-up rather than set up my full sized processor. If you don’t have a suitable kitchen appliance, you can hand shred the apple and finely chop the spinach instead.
- Combine the prepared spinach and apple with the other meatloaf cake ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix throroughly.
- Press the mixture firmly into your prepared pans. There is no need to leave expansion room as these meatloaf cakes will not rise during baking. As note above, I’m using mini springform pans (affiliate link) to make to mini cakes for layering.
- Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes (time will depend on size), until cooked thoroughly.
- Remove from the oven, cool slightly, loosen your pans if needed. Refrigerate to cool completely and for storage until you’re ready to decorate (optional) or serve. For meatloaf cakes, I like to bake the day before celebrating, if I can swing the schedule and then refrigerate my meatloaf cakes in their pans for finishing up and decorating fresh before we celebrate.
Decorating the Cake (Optional):
- When thoroughly cooled, remove from the pans.
- Construct your layer cake, applying mashed potato frosting between each layer.
- We left the rest of this cake natural, but you could frost the exterior with additional mashed potato if you’d prefer.
- Garnish to decorate. I used a cube of seared turkey thigh and springs of fresh baby celery from our garden as decorations on this cake.
- Refrigerate until you are ready to serve. Pampered pooches might enjoy their slice of cake warmed slightly for extra smell and flavour.
Celebrating and Serving
Woah there, pawty animals! Before anyone dives face first into their cake for a full smash feast, a few words of caution. Candles can be scary and/or dangerous around pets, so don’t light if you’re unsure and never leave lit candles unsupervised. I lit Humphrey’s number candle (affiliate link) very briefly for a few quick pictures and then blew it out for him before prepping the cake for his birthday slice and storage.
As noted in his birthday post, we were celebrating solo so Humphrey had a slice and we refrigerated the rest of the cake slices for special snacks and sharing with his friends. Some of you might have seen their drooling photos in our Instagram stories. Haha! And that’s probably also a good reminder that high-value treats, like cake, might get some pups a little overexcited. If you aren’t sure or have any concerns about manners, resource guarding, etc. be careful with how you display and serve any celebratory snacks, especially in its a group party environment. Safety always comes first, including with celebrations and snacks. See additional cake-related tips and tricks below.
Dog-Friendly Cake Making Tips and Tricks
- See our pet chef post on homemade dog cakes for additional information on types of cakes, decorating ideas, storage, and more.
- Cakes can be baked into other shapes and sizes. Remember to adjust your cooking times and/or temperatures accordingly.
- Meatloaf cakes can be made in advance and stored (refrigerated short term, frozen longer term), and then decorated for the party.
- Dehydrated potato flakes (instant mashed potato) makes a quick and easy option for frosting dog-friendly cakes. It has a smooth and uniform consistency and can be easily adjusted to be thinner (additional liquid) or thicker (additional flakes). Mashed potato is also a neutral base for tinting with food colouring or natural ingredients.
- Snacks like cake are treats and should be enjoyed in moderation. No one wants a sad sore birthday belly or to be a party pooper.
- Leftovers can be cut into bite-sized pieces and refrigerated or frozen. Meatloaf cake bites freeze well, just like meatballs.
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.