Monday, 18 February 2019

{RECIPE} Simple Spirulina Gelatin Gummy Dog Treats

Close up of a paw shaped spirulina gelatin gummy dog treat

Simple gelatin gummies are a great way to include super-food spirulina in our doggy diet. They're easy to make, mess-free to serve, and make it a snap to share nutrient-dense spirulina in small quantities. No muss, no fuss. Plus, they look pretty cool as well thanks to the gorgeous natural blue-green of spirulina. Unlike my experiments with using spirulina as a tint in baked treats, the colour shines bright and beautiful in a gummy suspension.

Spirulina is a super-food for humans and pets: high in protein (including the essential amino acids for dogs), rich in E, A, ad B vitamins, but perhaps most importantly it is full of trace minerals and phytonutrients. Spirulina may have potential benefits for dogs including: increased energy/endurance, anti-inflammatory properties, improved kidney and liver function, supporting healthy digestion, detoxification, brain and nervous function, tissue and cell regeneration, healthy skin and coat, and boosting the immune system including stimulation of antibodies and countering free-radicals and even cancer cells. Not surprisingly, I find that the powder does have a kind of earthy smell - a bit like seaweed - but that just make it all the more appealing to our dogs. Haha! Cue Oli crazy eyes!

Dalmatian dog begging for spirulina gelatin gummy dog treat

Note: Spirulina is a blue-green Cyanobacteria, but unlike the shudders that usually go through pet owners when they hear that word, this form is a carefully sourced food and nutraceutical product. Cyanobacteria is often associated with health-warnings and swimming area closures during hot dry summers, but the growth and handling of edible spirulina are quite different. When selecting a spirulina product (for people or pets), choose a quality product from a trusted supplier so you can be confident in the content (check out this article on Dogs Naturally for more info). I use a certified organic human-grade product from a reputable supplier.

Step-by-step instructions for making spirulina gelatin gummy dog treat

Simple Spirulina Gelatin Gummy Dog Treats


1 cup cold water or low sodium stock
3 tbsp plain gelatin powder
1 tsp spirulina powder (can adjust to suit preferences)

Measure cold water/stock into a suitable pot/pan. Tip: I like using a pan instead of a pot when prepping gummies. More surface area makes for easier blooming. Sprinkle the surface with gelatin powder and let sit for approximately five minutes or longer for the gelatin powder to bloom/gel.  Place your bloomed gelatin pan on the stove and gently stir the mixture over low heat until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Take care not to shortcut with high temperatures or overheat, as this can reduce the setting strength of your gelatin. Remove from heat. 

Although gelatin isn't "cooked" to high temperature when prepping gummies, to reduce the risk of losing nutrients to heat, the spirulina is added to the gummy mixture after it has been prepped and slightly cooled. This will also help to hold the spirulina in suspension in the gummies, as the powder doesn't fully dissolve (at least in my experience). Here's a close-up look at the powder-in-liquid before gelling. Note: These gummies were made with a plain water base, and gummies made with stock may vary in tint/opacity. 

Pouring jug spirulina gelatin mixture for gummy dog treats, with close up of spirulina speckles on spoon

Put your spirulina powder in a suitable container for mixing.  Tip: I like using a coffee milk jug when I make gummies - stain resistant, heat safe, easy pour, and dishwasher-friendly. Awesome! Mix a small spoonful of the cooler but still liquefied gelatin with the spirulina powder to dissolve/mix with minimal lumps and clumps. Once mixed, add in the rest of your gelatin and mix to thoroughly combine. Spoon/pour the finished gelatin mixture into your molds before the liquid starts to set.  Chill to set fully before removing from molds.  

Dalmatian dog eating spirulina gelatin gummy dog treat

Tips and Tricks:

  • My dogs like the smell of "plain" and will happily accept plain gummies (gelatin and water) and I almost always just use water when making gummies with yummy add-ins, but a little tasty boost of chicken stock never goes astray. :) 
  • Volumes are very easily scaled.  If you want a precise measure of a specific pan/mold capacity, you can do a test pour from a measuring cup of water to measure the volume required to fill and scale your added gelatin powder to suit the volume of liquid for your batch of treats.
  • In my experience, 3 tbsp of gelatin powder per cup of liquid makes firm gummies, but if you prefer, you can use more gelatin for added supplementation or less for a jigglier jelly treat with lower gelatin content. Individual gelatin powders may be a little stronger/weaker. Find a ratio that works for your preferences and, of course, your dog.
  • If you're using shaped pans, keep them simple for easy breakage-free removal. I find that flexible molds work best as stiff molds can be tricky for removal. Supple silicon molds are tricky to move when full of liquid, so place of a portable surface to help you get things into the fridge without mess and stress.
  • Once set, they are now ready to eat, but for an even better "real" gummy texture/feel, after you have taken the treats out of the mold (or cut into pieces from your pan), return them to the refrigerator on a plate/tray uncovered to dry for a day before normal container storage.
  • These treats should be kept refrigerated and can be frozen for longer storage, although this can affect consistency. If gummies are frozen, I find that defrosting in the fridge uncovered on a plate or dishtowel helps to make sure that they thaw semi-dry instead of getting a little slippery. Freezing causes gelatin to separate which tends to bleed out some liquid content in addition to condensation factors. 

Hungry for more tasty treats?  See all of our recipes here. Remember, treats (bought or homemade) are for spoiling your pup in moderation. We share ideas here from treats that we make ourselves for our pets, but different animals will have different preferences (likes/dislikes) and dietary needs. 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.

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