Five Homemade Treats for Cats and Dogs That Will Help Keep Them Cool in Summer
The warm weather season is officially here, and rising temperatures often make our four-legged friends feel hotter than usual. "It's very easy for a pet to become overheated on a hot, or even warm, day—they are wearing fur coats, after all," says Dr. Jamie Richardson, chief of staff at Small Door Veterinary. "Pets with thick or long fur, or those that are brachycephalic (flat-nosed) are particularly susceptible." That's why it's best to keep your pets inside during the hottest parts of the day and to ensure they always have access to fresh drinking water. "Avoid exercising in excessive heat and humidity, especially without adequate rest and water breaks," says Dr. Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer of the American Kennel Club. "You can also add ice chips to your pet's water to entice them drink more."
Good news: Like fresh water and ice cubes, certain frozen treats can keep your furry family members nice and cool throughout the warm weather season. From pet-friendly ice cream to frozen fruit bites and more, here are five chilled treats that Drs. Richardson and Klein say you should have ready in your freezer this season.
Flavored Ice Cubes
Looking for an easy frozen treat that you can serve your pet? Dr. Richardson says you can freeze chicken or beef broth in an ice cube tray to create a tasty chilled treat for your animals. "Ensure that the broth is fat-free, has a low salt/sodium content and doesn't contain any onion or garlic, which is toxic to dogs," she recommends. "You could also make fruity pops by diluting fruit juice so it's not too sugary. Just make sure the juice does not contain any artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which is also toxic to dogs."
Frozen Fruit Bites with Peanut Butter
If your pet loves peanut butter, then this is the frozen treat for you. "Fill an ice cube with puréed bananas and add a dollop of fresh ground peanut butter on top and freeze," Dr. Klein says. "The best way to make sure the peanut butter you use is xylitol-free is to use only fresh ground peanut butter, often available at natural food stores."
Pet-Friendly Fruity Ice Cream
While regular ice cream can be dangerous for pets because of all the sugar and dairy it contains, our experts say that fresh, plain yogurt is a safe alternative you can use to make similar sorbet-style treats. "Combine a mashed banana, a few ounces of plain, unsweetened yogurt, and a tablespoon of creamy (xylitol-free) peanut butter and freeze for a few hours," Dr. Richardson says. And for an even easier frozen treat, Dr. Klein recommends simply mixing puréed melon into plain yogurt and sticking it in your freezer.
Frozen Watermelon Chunks
A little watermelon goes a long way in keeping your four-legged friends hydrated during the summer. "Like ice cubes, many pets love frozen watermelon chunks as a crunchy treat," says Dr. Richardson. "They also have the added bonus of a high-water content, so they can be very useful to keep your pet hydrated on a hot day. Just ensure the rind and any seeds are removed, as these can pose a choking hazard."
Frozen Kong Balls
For a hydrating chilled treat that will also keep your pet entertained, Dr. Richardson recommends stuffing a Kong toy (starting from $8, amazon.com) with something yummy and then freezing it for your favorite feline or pooch. "Good options include unsweetened plain yogurt, some mashed banana, canned pumpkin, mashed sweet potato, or canned pet food," she explains.