If you've ever given your dog a Milk Bone or just about any other baked treat, you've given your dog flour. The good news is that even though many people think of flour as something to be avoided, it can actually have real nutritional value for dogs. The key is to understand that different types of flour have vastly different nutritional profiles that range from nutrient rich to absolute garbage.
So with that in mind, we're going to dive a little deeper into the many flour options that are out there so you can answer the question of whether dogs can eat flour in a way that helps you understand what to look for on the ingredients label when you're out shopping for dog treats.
CAN DOGS EAT ALL PURPOSE FLOUR?
All purpose flour, also known as plain flour, is, as the name implies, a flour that's generally usable across most types of recipes. It is made from a mixture of different wheat varieties and tends to have some nutritional value, but it doesn't contain the whole grains that you'll find in other, more specific types of flour.
All purpose flour can be bleached or unbleached. Bleaching is what it sounds like - a chemical process to whiten it. Bleaching doesn't do anything to improve the quality of the flour for your dog, so if you're going to buy all purpose flour, definitely go for the unbleached kind.
In general, we recommend staying away from all purpose flour for your dog. It's not going to hurt them in small amounts, but it just doesn't have the nutritional value that you can get from other kinds of flour.
CAN DOGS EAT WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR?
They most certainly can, and that's why we use exclusively whole wheat flour in all of our Pupsicle Mixes. Whole grains (like whole wheat) are packed with all kinds of things that are great for your pup - fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. Whole wheat also contains antioxidants.
The "whole" in whole wheat flour is key - whole grains are the good stuff that you want to give to your dog, so make sure that's what you're getting. Other flours, like all purpose flour, are also wheat flours, but they don't use the whole wheat kernel (the endosperm, bran and germ), which means they lack the benefits of true whole wheat flour.
CAN DOGS EAT ALMOND FLOUR?
Almond flour can serve as a great substitute for wheat flours, as it's very high in protein and low in carbohydrates relative to something like whole wheat flour.
Almond flour is made by blanching almonds in boiling water in order to remove the skins, then grinding the nuts into a powder. If you've ever heard that nuts are packed with nutrients, you'll understand why almond flour is good for dogs - in addition to all the protein it has, it also has fiber, vitamin E, copper, phosphorous and other minerals.
CAN DOGS EAT COCONUT FLOUR?
In order to obtain coconut flour, the pulp of a coconut is ground into a fine powder. Coconut flour is an excellent choice for dogs, as it is very high in both plant proteins and fiber. It's free of gluten, which can be problematic for some dogs, and it contains significant amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin C, calcium and potassium.
CAN DOGS EAT WHITE FLOUR?
While some of the other flours listed here, like coconut flour and almond flour, are fairly self explanatory, white flour is a little less obvious. White flour is made from wheat, but unlike whole wheat flour, it does not use the whole grain. The wheat grain contains three parts - the endosperm, the germ and the bran. Whole wheat flour uses all three, while white flour uses solely the endosperm. This means that it loses the nutrients in the other parts of the grain, and it also requires more processing, which causes further nutritional loss.
Beyond just plain old white flour, you can also find bleached flour - as bad as white flour is, bleached is worse. It just takes the white flour and runs it through a chemical process to whiten it, which does absolutely nothing good for your dog.
Stay away from white flour - there's just no reason to ever choose it when there are so many better alternatives out there.
CAN DOGS EAT OAT FLOUR?
Oat flour is made by simply grinding oats into a fine powder. Because you're starting with a whole grain as the base, the resulting flour is excellent - nutritionally dense, gluten-free and low in sugar. It's full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, so treats with oat flour will tend to be good for dogs.
If you're trying to figure out what kind of flour to bake with, oat flour is a good choice, as it retains more moisture than many other types of flour, so when you use it treats will tend to come out a bit moister.
CAN DOGS EAT FLOUR TORTILLAS?
Since we're on the topic, you might be wondering if it's okay to give your pooch a bite of that taco. The reality is that while yes, you can give your dog a bit of tortilla and it's not going to do any harm, the flour that's used in tortillas typically isn't high quality or nutritionally dense. We recommend keeping the tacos to yourself.
SO CAN DOGS EAT FLOUR?
Of course! Even though grain-free diets for dogs are popular today, the reality is that it's only the highly processed flours that don't come from whole grains that aren't great for your pup. High-quality grain flours like those that come from whole wheat and oats are full of nutrients and really beneficial for your dog. We always make sure to use the best flour in our treats, and we definitely recommend you do as well.
For those folks who do want to stay entirely free of grains, the good news is that there are plenty of alternative flours like coconut and almond that aren't made with grains at all but still have many of the same nutritional benefits as whole grain flours. If you're a baker, you may have to do a little experimentation when substituting non-grain flours into a recipe, but even if your dog treats don't come out exactly as expected, we bet your dog won't mind!