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As the dog days of summer start to heat up, many pet parents look for ways to keep their dogs cool. Why not try making some frozen dog treats for summer fun with your pup? Frozen treats not only let you experiment in the kitchen, but they may help prevent dehydration and keep your pooch entertained.
Creative Ways to Cool Down
Once you gather some healthy treat ingredients and clear out space in the freezer, the possibilities are almost endless. Investing in some silicon ice cube trays and ice pop molds allows you to change the size and design of your frozen treats. Both can be filled with a variety of fruits, yogurt, mashed dog food or peanut butter that you can combine in your blender with a little water. Always ask your veterinarian before trying a new treat recipe, and make sure treats make up no more than about 10 percent of your dog's daily food.
Some low sodium or salt free chicken, beef or vegetable broth frozen in ice cubes makes a great treat that's fun to chase across the floor. You can even put some of these tasty cubes in water or dry food to encourage your dog to drink more.
Mashed bananas mixed with a little bit of yogurt can become frozen banana snacks when spooned into an ice cube tray. For even more fun, place the banana cube inside a treat holder toy and watch that tail wag away as your pet licks and chews his way to a refreshing snack.
A favorite on the list of best frozen dog treats for summer is pumpkin delights. A little scoop of this orange vegetable will give your pup some tasty fiber and vitamins. The American Kennel Club (AKC) notes that you should be careful to choose plain, canned pumpkin and not sweetened or spiced pie filling. Spices and artificial sweeteners can be toxic to your dog.
To make the treats, mix a can of pumpkin with about a cup of unsweetened plain Greek yogurt, a teaspoon of honey and one mashed banana. Spoon the mixture into plastic or silicone ice cube molds and place in the freezer for about an hour. Pumpkin is also packed with moisture, so it serves as a great way to help your dog get enough water during those hot summer months.
Cooling Down Too Fast?
When cooling down your dog, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. The AKC recommends giving only small amounts of water at a time after a dog has exerted a lot of energy to avoid consuming too much at a time, which can in some cases be regurgitated back up.
This is where plain old ice cubes become the best homemade dog treat. Place a few ice cubes in your dog's water bowl, and after he has licked the ice cubes for a few minutes you can fill the bowl with fresh, cold water. It is best to use crushed ice cubes, as veterinary dentists find that ice cubes can cause tooth fractures in dogs from chewing on the ice.
The The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) lists citrus fruits, the sweetener xylitol, avocado and tree nuts as people foods that aren't good for pets, so keep those ingredients out of your homemade summer dog treats. In most cases, peanut butter and dairy in small amounts will not likely create a digestive disaster. However, if your dog has digestive problems you want to make sure the ingredients in your summer treats don't irritate his digestive system.
When looking at possible ingredients for homemade dog treats, check with your vet to be sure the ingredients won't affect any of your dog's current health issues. If you're not sure about homemade goodies, some regular dog treats (or some canned dog food) frozen in water-filled ice cube trays will keep your dog busy and cool while he licks his way to a tasty tidbit.
As you create frozen dog treats for summer, share your favorite recipes and ideas with your friends so the other pups in your neighborhood can keep cool all summer long.