Tasty Frozen Snacks for Dogs
By Lisa King
Hot weather is dangerous to humans and animals alike, and climate change means that longer and hotter summers are on the way. Keeping pets cool is an owner’s responsibility, but confining a dog to an air-conditioned house all day just isn’t feasible. Both you and your dog are going to want to spend time outdoors, so while you’re enjoying the pool, barbecuing or working in the garden, make sure your dog has a way to stay cool and be near you.
We have all seen photos of lions and tigers in zoos licking giant “bloodsicles” during heat waves. These effectively cool down the animals’ bodies so they don’t suffer as much from the heat. You can do the same for your dog without resorting to freezing blood.
If you have a large dog or multiple dogs, freeze water or salt-free chicken stock in layers in a large plastic container and drop in small toys and treats as each layer freezes. Once it’s fully frozen, run a little hot water over the container and slide the block of ice out onto a flat pan or plate. Set it in the shade where your dog can reach it. He will be able to see the treats and toys and will happily lick away the ice to get to them.
Commercial frozen dog treats are available at pet supply stores and some supermarkets. These are handy, but can be pricey. If you want to save money and be certain of what your dog is consuming, make healthy frozen treats for him at home.
The principles behind making frozen treats are simple: Use foods your dog likes and that are safe for him and combine them in imaginative ways, and then freeze them in ice cube trays (the silicon ones make popping out the treats easy). There are even trays designed for dog treats in which the holes are bone-shaped. You can also freeze treats in small Dixie cups, disposable plastic cups or cupcake liners.
Never add salt or sugar to your dog’s treats. Don’t use grapes, onions, avocados, chocolate, macadamia nuts or anything else on the ASPCA list of foods hazardous to dogs.
Give your dog his frozen treats outside; he is bound to make a mess as the treat melts. Keep in mind that these treats do have calories, so don’t overdo it.
Here is a list of suggested ingredients for frozen dog treats:
- Plain nonfat yogurt
- Peanut butter (the natural kind without sweeteners or salt)
- Chopped apples or applesauce
- Canned pumpkin purée (avoid pumpkin pie filling)
- Grated carrots
- Cooked ground or shredded meat or poultry
- Salt-free chicken stock or beef stock
- Grated cheese (low salt)
The easiest treats to make involve putting a few berries or pieces of chopped fruit (such as banana, melon or apple) in the bottom of each section of an ice cube tray and then filling the tray with yogurt or one of the combinations below. This gives your dog a sweet and healthy treat. For a low-fat savory treat, put a little leftover unseasoned meat or chicken and a pinch of cheese in each section and fill with salt-free stock.
Here are some ideas for combinations your dog will like. If the mixture seems too thick, thin with a little stock or water.
- Combine peanut butter with a little yogurt or applesauce.
- Mix pumpkin purée with peanut butter.
- Pumpkin is also tasty mixed with plain yogurt.
- Mashed bananas are delicious mixed with yogurt, peanut butter, or a combination.
This isn’t gourmet cooking. Keep the combinations simple and appealing to your dog. While you and your guests are enjoying frozen margaritas on the deck, he’ll feel as if he’s joined the party.
About the Author: Lisa King is a freelance writer living in Southern California. She is the former managing editor of Pet Product News International, Dogs USA, and Natural Dog magazines. Lisa is also the author of the well-received murder mystery novel “Death in a Wine Dark Sea” and the recently released “Vulture au Vin.”