Making a cooling, nutritious treat for your pup is easier than you think.
Despite summer temperatures seemingly getting more intense year after year, one family member tends to get left out of the cold treat cool down: the dog. Luckily for your pup, it’s easier than you might think to make frozen treats that will both cool your dog down and avoid an upset stomach—or worse. Use these easy pooch-approved tips and recipes to help your furry best friend chill out through September and beyond.
The Secret Ingredients
The base of many dog-friendly ice creams is a surprising pet-safe human food that can actually benefit your pup’s digestive system. Plain yogurts that contain active bacteria are both a perfect creamy base for your pet’s icy treats, and will provide probiotics that can aid their digestive system. Just be sure to buy yogurts that are free of added sugar or artificial sweeteners, as those chemicals can be dangerous to your dog’s health.
Another popular ingredient to incorporate into homemade dogs treats is peanut butter, which is generally accepted as safe for your pet to consume and adds some healthy fats, protein, and vitamins to your dog’s diet. As with the yogurt, stick with sugar- and sweetener-free butters—particularly avoiding any brands that and use a sweetener called xylitol—and use a raw, unsalted variety if possible.
And, while chocolate chips are obviously a big no-no, Carob, the naturally sweet legume that is often used as a substitute for cocoa, is dog-friendly according to the ASPCA, so that your pooch can get a chocolate fix without any of the risk.
Mix and Match
Now for the fun part: Getting creative with your pet’s treats. The options are endless when it comes to combining plain yogurt with various fruits and dog-friendly ingredients. For example, to create a simple strawberry ice cream, mash one small tub of fresh strawberries, combine with 3-4 cups of low- or non-fat plain yogurt, and freeze overnight. That yogurt to fruit ratio will work with just about any fruit or vegetable, providing plenty of opportunities to get creative with your frozen treats.
It’s important to note that while many fruits are completely safe for your pet in moderation, there are some that should be avoided. Grapes (and raisins), currants, cherries, peaches, plums, persimmons, apricots, rhubarb, and avocado should all be left out of your homemade treats due to health issues that could result from their consumption.
While naturally-sweet fruits generally make for great ice cream combinations, pureed pumpkin is also a great way to add some flavor to your pet’s treats while aiding their digestive system and boosting the fiber and vitamin counts.
For some added sweetness to the tart yogurt, it’s generally safe to add a small amount of honey to your dog’s food. Just be careful to not overdo it, as the natural sugars in honey can lead to obesity and tooth decay in pets if used in excess. We’d recommend using no more than 1 tablespoon of honey for every 2 cups of yogurt.
Another safe natural sweetening method is applesauce, which can decrease the tartness, as well as add antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins to your dog’s treats. As with honey, anything with concentrated amounts of sugar should be used in small amounts to avoid any health implications down the line.
For pups who are sensitive to dairy, or owners who would rather go the dairy-free route, stick with a banana-based ice cream. Though treats made with bananas should be fed to pets more sparingly, given the high natural sugar content of the fruit, bananas also boast potassium, fiber, copper, and a variety of vitamins that can benefit your pet’s health.
Your frozen dog-friendly ice cream can be prepared in a bigger batch and scooped out over numerous occasions, or poured into individual-sized dessert containers, which can be purchased online.
Whether you opt for a yogurt- or banana-based frozen treat, your dog is sure to be barking your praises during the next heat wave. For more inspiration on how to seriously treat your pup this summer—and all year long—check out our guide to Homemade Dog Treats.