Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Dental Soft Doggy Bites

Those of you who work in the healthcare industry will know what I mean by the term "dental soft". Actually, if you've ever had your teeth pulled, braces tightened or other oral procedures done, you'll likely be familiar with the feeling of being unable to chew much of anything! Most of my experience with the phrase came from working in a retirement facility coding and modifying menu charts, and it was a more or less running joke in our family since the home would simply overcook or food-processor chop the whole menu together and spoon feed the rather unappetizing result to the seniors. But lo and behold, that short co-op of mine came calling, just not in the human form I expected.

We have an old dog.

He's a sweet thing, slightly neurotic but loving, but he's almost 14 and definitely showing his age. Since I've been a part of his family (he's technically my stepdad's - not that he's being taken care of by him 0_0 ) he's had both his back knees replaced, the ligaments and cartilage in those joints re-aligned, had allergic reactions that caused him to chew his feet bloody, lost two teeth and developed a series of strange growths that don't seem to be hurting him, but are definitely creepy. The latest drama with Shag, as we call him, is twofold: he's stopped eating 3/4 of his dinners now (likely due to the chewing factor), and as a result he's developed some interesting bowel habits (or vice-versa, who knows). The only thing he seems to actually want to eat are his treats, but thanks to his current dental situation can't take anything hard or overly chewy.

Until recently, a slightly underbaked version of my Better Bikkies was his thoroughly enjoyed snacktime goody, but now he's having issues biting even those. So, in a (mother-directed) attempt to coax him back to the land of the eating I went back to the kitchen and made a few tweaks. I added more oats, oil, peanut butter and water to the batter, as well as some new players like homemade applesauce, buckwheat groats, psyllium husks and a shot of the liquid glucosamine our vet put Shag on for his creaky joints. Instead of the honey I used in the original, I opted for a decadent amber agave nectar that the folks at Nature's Agave were kind enough to send me to try and review (more in a later post). For my notes on some of the other ingredients, see the original recipe - they didn't change. Finally, I made the cookies smaller so they were easier for him to handle (he is after all a little dog) and changed the baking method, opting for a shorter, hotter cooking to preserve as much softness as I could while still having them "set".

The dog loves them, and better yet - he can love them. He's family, and seeing family happy is definitely a big, wet, sloppy kiss in my books.

Dental Soft Doggy Bites
Makes about 190 small "bites"
1 ¼ cups rolled oats
3 tbsp buckwheat groats (kasha)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce (preferably homemade)
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp Nature's Agave amber agave nectar (or other agave nectar, or honey)
¾ cup smooth, natural peanut butter
1 ½ cups boiling water
1 egg
1 tsp liquid glucosamine supplement (I used UBAVet Liquid Plus Glucosamine HCl), optional
½ cup rye flour
1 cup barley flour
½ cup quinoa flour
¼ cup sunflower seed flour **
¾ cup soy flour
¼ cup psyllium fibre husks
¼ cup teff flour
½ tsp guar gum
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
¼ cup wheat germ **
½ cup quick (Minute) tapioca
¼ cup whole flaxseeds
½ cup imitation or turkey bacon bits **
  1. In a large bowl, combine oats, kasha, applesauce, chicken stock, oil, honey, peanut butter and boiling water, stirring well. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Beat in the egg and glucosamine (if using), followed by the remaining ingredients.
  3. Chill dough 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with parchment or foil.
  5. Working in batches, roll out the dough between sheets of waxed paper and cut into small squares or rectangles.
  6. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 10 minutes. Cool on the sheets.
Note for would be bakers: I cut the chilled dough into the pieces and freeze them on baking sheets before transferring to a big Ziploc bag so that I can bake off as needed. 350F for about 11-12 minutes works from frozen.

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