It is often said that man’s best friend is his dog. Although I do not disagree with that statement, if I’d have been the person to come up with that saying it would have gone something more along the lines of “man has two best friends, his dog and beer”, or something like that anyway.
I love my little dog and I love my beer and we both love when I make beer because we both get to enjoy the fruits of my labour. No I do not feed my dog beer, in fact if I were to even try (not saying I have “grin”), he turns his head the complete opposite way as if he is disgusted that I can even think of drinking it. But what he does like that I grimace at in return is spent grain dog treats, he goes crazy for them.
So if you ever wondered what to do with all of your spent grains after brew day; most home brewers I talk to have because they hate wasting them. Well if you are a dog lover then a fun thing you can do for your little buddy is make these fun spent grain dog treats for him/her. It is a great use of your leftover grains, they are safe and healthy for your dog and he will learn to love brew day as much as you do.
In this post I am going to provide with you a recipe to get started making these treats, we will also discuss some safety precautions to take as well as looking at some nutritional information; yes these treats are surprisingly very good for your dog.
Why I Started Making Spent Grain Dog Treats
Like most homebrewers I got my start making my first batches of beer from the pre hopped malt extract kits, or as I like to refer to them as the ol’can of goo. The ol’can of goo is filled with malt extract that has all of the base grains, specialty grains and hops already in it.
Simply dump the contents of the can into your fermenter, add some water, pitch your yeast and you are off to the races. Clean up is a cinch, wipe your counter, throw out the empty can, no spent grains to have to try to figure out what to do with. But unfortunately for my best little buddy no dog treats to be made either.
I then eventually moved into partial mash brewing. This is where you now make your batch of beer using either unhopped liquid or dry malt extract, hops and specialty grains. When making this beer you steep crushed grains in warm water (like making tea) and add the liquid (wort) it creates into the fermenter along with the malt extract. The specialty grains give the beer its flavor, color and aroma. It is one step away from all grain brewing where of course you make the beer from nothing but grains and hops.
What to Do With Spent Grains?
Now that I was using grains to make my beer I had a problem at the end of brew day. What to do with my spent grains. My first few batches I simply threw them out, which always bothered me, and I could tell it bothered my dog also. He must have had some inner dog intuition that he was missing out on some treats.
So I took to the internet to see what other people were doing with their spent grains. The following are a list of ideas I came across:
- Baking (bread was the big one)
- Feeding to farm animals
- Growing mushrooms
- And making dog treats!
Although I would love to say I jumped right into making dog treats, as my best buddy Scampy Boy will tell you that is not the case. I composted the spent grains most of the time.
I do not have any farm animals so I did not feed them, although there are lots of white tail deer where I live and I found out by accident by leaving my composted spent grains uncovered one time that deer also have a taste for them. I came home to about 15 deer in my yard eating away.
When I owned my brewery I did have an arrangement with a local farmer who took them and fed his livestock.
It was actually while I owned my brewery I discovered that my dog loved these treats. One of the guys who brewed with me took some leftover grains from brew day home with him so his wife could try and make some dog treats out of them using a recipe she found.
He brought some in for my dog to try and the rest is history, he loved them. So from that day forward a portion of the spent grains from each brew day goes towards making dog treats.
Are Spent Grain Dog Treats Safe?
Yes, spent grains themselves are not just safe for dogs but they are very healthy. However please note though that hops are not safe for dogs, and do not use peanut butter that has Xylitol in it as it is also toxic to dogs. This is so important to understand that I have devoted a complete section on it further in this article. For now just know to keep your grains separate from your hops if you plan on making treats for your dog after brew day.
As you know the brewing process breaks down the grains, allowing us to get the sugars and starches out of them. But it also allows us to access the nutrients stuck inside the grains much easier.
Although the nutritional value can change depending of course on what grains you use when brewing, in general, most have the following nutritional values and benefits:
- Fiber levels between 20 and 70%
- Protein levels between 20 and 30%
- Reduced levels of carbohydrates
- Decent amounts of selenium, magnesium, and manganese
All of which means they are an excellent food source chock full of nutritional value.
Are Hops Toxic to Dogs?
Yes! If you want to make treats for your best buddy, keep the hops clear of the grains. Hops are extremely dangerous and toxic for dogs. When ingested they can cause what is referred to as malignant hyperthermia which results in an increase in their body temperature that is life-threatening to them.
Symptoms can start over an extended period of time, anywhere from 30 minutes to 12 hours has been reported and can include:
- Breathing fast
- Heavy panting
- Appearing agitated
- Redness around the mouth area
- Increased heart rate
If you believe your dog has ingested hops do your best to cool it down as much as you can and get it in to see a veterinarian right away.
Video of my Daughter and I Making this Recipe
Spent Grain Dog Treats Recipe
A quick note on this recipe, I like to give credit where credit is due as I did not develop this recipe, however it is a basic recipe that is literally everywhere on the internet with some slight variations so I have no idea who the original creator is.
- 4 Cups of spent grains
- 2 Cups of flour
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Cup of peanut butter (alternatively you can use 1 cup of canned pumpkin)
Important: Make sure the peanut butter you use does NOT have Xylitol in it, as it is toxic to dogs, most natural peanut butter does not have it as an ingredient, but always check the ingredients.
Note: some people will add 1 tablespoon of grated parmesan also.
- Turn your oven on to 350 degrees to preheat it.
- Start mixing all of your ingredients together in a large bowl.
- Mix it all up until you have a large dough ball.
- Put some flour on your counter and get your trusty ol’ rolling pin out and roll the dough out to dog treat thickness.
- Get your cookie cutters out and cut out as many treats as you are able to. Your dog will not care but most people like to use dog bone shaped cookie cutters.
- Put the treats on your cookie sheet and put them in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
- When the 30 minutes is up, in order to dehydrate the treats so you can store them safely, reduce the heat to 200 degrees and bake them for an additional 2 hours.
- When the 2 hours is up, let them cool before serving them to your dog.
- For storage, store them in an airtight container in your fridge.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use chocolate malt?
The concern here for people is that dogs can not eat chocolate as it is poisonous for them. However chocolate malt does not contain any chocolate, the taste comes from how it is roasted, so you can definitely use it in your dog treats.
Are rice hulls ok to use?
If you used any more then 1 lb of rice hulls in your grain bill you might want to not consider not using them in your treats as it might be hard on their system coming out.
Do I have to make the treats right away or can I store the spent grains and make them later?
After you brew your beer if left out on the counter you have about 12 hours to use the spent grains before they spoil. You can store them in the freezer for long periods of time and they will last approximately a week in the fridge.
There you have it my friend, your dog will now be as excited as you are about brew day. In closing I do once again want to stress that it is very important to not allow any of the hops to get mixed in with your spent grains, we do want any sick puppies!
Let me know if you have any questions on making these treats and if you give this recipe a try let us know in the comments how you make out!
Now go get your brew awnn…
Cheers Big Robb is Out!