When temperatures rise outside, your dog can easily get overheated. Heatstroke is just one of the many summer hazards that can affect our dogs. There are many ways you can help keep your dog cool in the hot weather. Chilled or frozen dog treats are a great surprise for your dog. Not only will they help cool your dog off, but they can also help relieve boredom when it is cooped up inside. As with any new treat, start with a small amount to make sure your dog's digestive system can handle the new food without leading to vomiting and/or diarrhea. Remember that treats should be limited to a small portion (think approximately 5%) of your dog's diet. Here are some ideas for healthy, cold treats your dog will love:
Doggie Ice "Cream"
Dogs love real ice cream, but it's unhealthy for them. The sugar makes the calorie count is too high and the excess dairy can cause vomiting or diarrhea. Brands like "Lick-a-lots" and "Frosty Paws" make healthy dog ice "cream" that dogs love. However, if you want to save money or would rather not run out to the store, you can make a version of them yourself at home. Here's what you need:
- 1 ripe banana
- 4 ounces of plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter(creamy is best)
Mix ingredients together in a blender or food processor. Pour mixture into three or four different small containers and freeze overnight. You can adjust the amounts of each ingredient to get the taste and texture your dog likes best. Leave the treats in the container and serve one to your dog, but be sure to supervise (so he doesn't eat the container). These treats will last longer if you don't pop them out of their containers. Experiment with mix-ins like finely diced apples, carrots, or lean meat.
Puppy Ice Pops
For fast and easy frozen pops that dogs will love, all you need is one ingredient: chicken broth or beef broth. Look for one that is fat-free, unsalted or low-sodium, and contains no onion or garlic ingredients.
Pour the broth into ice cube trays or mini-muffin pans and freeze overnight. You can feed a few alone as treats for your dog. Or, try placing the pops on top of kibble or in the water bowl to enhance flavor. Again, experiment with mix-ins like finely diced carrots, apples, or lean meat.
For a fruity pop, try freezing diluted juice with no added sugar. Or, you can cut a watermelon into chunks and freeze them. Dogs love these mildly sweet frozen treats on a hot day, and you might enjoy them too.
Frozen Kong Stuffing
The Kong is a wonderful stuffable dog toy that, when filled appropriately, can occupy just about any dog. There's virtually no end to what you can put in this toy. Fill it with a mushy concoction of foods and put it in the freezer (the longer it's in, the harder it will freeze, but you can serve it as soon as two hours after stuffing it). For the serious chewers, try the Extreme Kong compare prices filled with yummy food and then frozen overnight. There are other Kong-like stuffable dog toys on the market you can try. Experiment with mixtures of the following ingredients:
- Yogurt (plain)
- Canned pumpkin (no more than about a tablespoon per serving as more can cause diarrhea)
- Canned dog food
- Ground beef or other ground meat (plain, lean)
- Shredded chicken or turkey (plain, lean)
- Diced carrots and/or apples
- Mini dog treats
- Your dog's kibble
Mix the desired ingredients together. You can do this by hand or with a blender or food processor. For easy stuffing, put the mixture in a frosting piping bag. If you don't have this, try filling a plastic zip-top bag and cutting one of the bottom corners off. Squeeze the bag's content into the Kong or another stuffable toy. Freeze for at least two hours (but overnight is best) before serving.
Baby Food Pops
Don't feel like mixing up treats? Pick up some baby food from the grocery store. Beef, chicken, sweet potato, and fruit (apple or banana) formulas work especially well. Freeze in packaging overnight, then serve.
- Be sure to choose formulas that contain no toxic food ingredients (like onions).
- Always supervise dogs when feeding these treats to prevent them from chewing or ingesting the container.
- When feeding any dog treats, remember that treats should never make up more than about 5-10 percent of your dog's daily food intake.
You Gonna Eat That? Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University