7 Instagram-worthy dog desserts for birthdays and beyond
It’s your dog’s birthday, or maybe she’s hit a new training milestone and you want to do something special. If us humans celebrate with cake and sweet treats, why shouldn’t your precious pooch, too?
Of course The Great British Baking Show confections you want to create and show off on social media are missing one key thing: They’re not suitable for your pup to eat. To satisfy your need to bake for your pup — and share the evidence all over Instagram — we’ve rounded up seven doggy cake (a.k.a. pupcake) recipes that look great and are made of ingredients that are all canine friendly.
But before you fancy yourself the next big Food Network star, first study up on what’s safe for your best friend to consume. Read on for a crash course in dog baking no-nos, then decide which pupcake flavor will have them begging for seconds.
Ingredients to avoid
If you’re going to prep food for your animals, you’ll need to be well-versed in all the harmful eats out there, because the good health of your BFF is what’s most important. For a full breakdown of how some of the no-no ingredients below can make your pet seriously ill or upset their stomachs, visit the ASPCA’s website. Don’t feed your dog the following ingredients:
- the sugar substitute Xylitol
- nuts, especially Macadamia
- mustards or seeds
- added sugars
- added fats, like butter, lard or shortening
- anything caffeinated, like coffee
- yeast dough
- large amounts of salt
- milk and dairy products
It’s also wise to read the labels of ingredients you use and even the treats you buy.
“Garlic and onions are toxic to dogs in large quantities and readily used in many brand-name treats but can cause red blood cell issues in dogs,” says veterinarian Dr. Sarah Lavery.
Lavery also recommends that pet parents steer clear of raw meat-based foods.
"They could compromise the health of people and animals, especially if immunocompromised — think of a young child being wiped in the face with raw chicken... a dog's tongue will readily transfer bacteria in the form of a kiss,” she says.
Marcia Lain, the founder and owner of Dog City Bakery in Marietta, Georgia, says, "I try to stay away from sugar."
Don’t worry, even though the aforementioned list is pretty extensive, there are plenty of delicious foods to play around with in the kitchen.
"I use fruits and vegetables as my liquids in dog cakes. Not only does it make the cake moist, it's packed with vitamins,” Lain says, sharing that her go-tos are blueberries, raspberries and carrots.
Now that you know what not to serve, grab your apron and get ready to get your hands dirty — pupcakes worthy of Insta-hearts won’t make themselves!
1. Peanut Butter Pupcakes
Dogs and peanut butter — they have a instant connection. It’s similar to the love we felt when we spotted this keyword in Crazy for Crust’s recipe: easy. Fancy ingredients are nowhere to be found in this concoction, which features a rich, creamy, peanutty frosting (the AKC says peanut butter is safe for dogs in moderation, since it’s rich in natural fat — but always make sure it doesn’t contain Xylitol, which is toxic to canines). To make them, simply dump the ingredients in a bowl, stir and bake. For the dreamy frosting, blend banana and peanut butter — a dog biscuit is the cutest cherry on top!
2. Banana Pupcakes
Isn’t it amazing when something you almost threw away (like the two overripe bananas sitting on your kitchen counter) can be refashioned into something sweet for your sweetie? Your pet will go wild for Is This Really My Life’s Dog-Friendly Banana Cupcakes that can also be topped with your pup’s favorite dog treat. Mix the ingredients into a batter, pour into cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when you do the toothpick test. Top with an optional yogurt, cream cheese and honey frosting. Warning: You will be tempted to lick your fingers.
3. Apple Spice Pupcakes
Pumpkin Spice may be all the rage, but apple spice is everything nice! Especially when it comes in the form of applesauce and shredded apples via Bakingdom’s pupcake recipe. Mix those ingredients with flour, water, spices and an egg and you’re well on your way to making your pup’s mouth happy. A similar recipe from The House of Wood takes things one step further by adding shredded cheddar cheese to the mix. In our opinion, a little cheddar makes everything better!
4. Sweet Potato and Apple Pupcakes
They’re called sweet potatoes for a reason! The naturally delicious vegetable is considered an excellent source of fiber for dogs and, as you know, tastes great to boot. Perfect for Thanksgiving or simply as a way to thank your pooch for all the love, The Speckled Palate’s recipe also calls for honey, applesauce, egg, flour, rolled oats and a very small amount of coconut oil. They’ll thank you for topping each one with yummy applesauce and cream cheese frosting.
5. Blueberry Pupcakes
Fresh or frozen blueberries, honey and cream cheese are just some of the standouts in Close to Home’s recipe, but what takes the cake is the ground kibble it calls for (crushed in a food processor or pounded in a Ziplock bag). Just dump the kibble into the mix until well combined. Bake for at least 15 minutes and let cool. Top tip: Don’t forget to set aside some blueberries for decorating!
6. Carrot Pupcakes
Applesauce makes a great substitute for oil in Sweet Beet & Green Bean’s pupcake recipe that is packed with carrots, a low-calorie favorite of many dogs. (Fun fact: Gnawing on whole carrots can help keep dogs’ teeth clean!) While the pupcakes are baking for 15 to 20 minutes, give your pup a stick or two to munch on so you can prep the Greek yogurt and carrot frosting.
7. Zucchini Pupcakes
If you’d rather refrain from grain, due to potential allergy or health concerns, Kol’s Notes’ Grain-Free Zucchini Pupcakes are worth the effort. You may need a thorough grocery shop to track down a few ingredients you don’t typically use every day, such as onion-free chicken stock, tapioca flour, and garbanzo bean flour. Mix all the ingredients — including fresh zucchini, oregano, basil, olive oil and eggs — into a mixture similar to the consistency of pancake batter. Sun-dried tomato and feta cheese crumbles can be yummy add-ins. Go ahead and try this one, you know you want to!
If you're looking for DIY treats that are less cake and more cookie, check out our 17 Tasty Dog Treat Recipes Your Pup Will Beg For and find a buffet of Fido-friendly ideas.
Read next: The 101 best dog quotes