Summer fun in the sun – we love it and so do our dogs. More daylight means more playlight for you and Fido – to play games, chase a ball and log some swim time in the family pool. And with summer fun, comes summer food. For us there’s watermelon and peaches and all kinds of fresh veggies from the garden, but what about summer dog treats for your beloved pet?
One thing you will want to keep in mind when selecting foods or making your own dog treats is safety. What’s good for us is not always safe for our pets; some ingredients are toxic and can cause adverse reactions or, in extreme cases, even death.
Most people have heard that chocolate can be fatal to dogs. The harmful effects actually vary based on the weight of the dog, the type of chocolate (some contain higher levels of the toxic chemical, Theobromine), and how much the dog consumes. However, you don’t want to take any chances, so best to leave that out.
Another ingredient to avoid that may surprise you is onions. Onions can lead to anemia in dogs, so skip this too. Certain nuts, like macadamia and walnuts, can also cause issues, as well as raisins and grapes. Added salt, sugar and artificial sweeteners should be avoided also. When in doubt about an item, check with your vet.
Dogs Like Veggies
Dogs can, and will, eat a variety of fruits and veggies. The rule that colorful veggies are good for you is also true for your dog. Orange, red and yellow vegetables (and fruits) pack an antioxidant punch for your pooch, plus contain many essential nutrients. Unlike humans, however, dogs cannot digest the skins of fruits and vegetables, so they must be cooked, juiced or pureed.
Dogs, like people, will have different likes and dislikes when it comes to food. Some dogs will eat certain veggies that others may not. A dog’s diet does not have to be confined to meat only. Dogs can enjoy some of summer’s bounty right along with you, and the same types of foods that are healthy for humans are good for dogs also. Just like with babies, offer your dog different foods to gauge his tastes, making sure to avoid the off limit foods, of course.
What’s on the Safe List?
Some fruits and vegetables that are safe for dogs, as well as beneficial, include carrots, broccoli, cantaloupe, celery, green beans, spinach, apples, pears, oranges, and pumpkin. There are many others that dogs can safely enjoy as well. Pet blogs, vet question and answer sites, howstuffworks.com, and about.com are good sources of information online to check for the safety of various foods and how to prepare them for your dog.
For a no-fuss treat, you can give your dog raw, fresh fruits and veggies or for a frozen treat you can use any of the canine approved fruits and vegetables, like green beans, squash, bananas or strawberries, and freeze “as is.” If you’d like to get a little fancier, the internet abounds with treat recipes from the simple to the complex. There is something for every level of doggie lovin’ cooks.
Summer dog treats don’t need to be difficult. For a simple, but cool treat for a hot summer day, mix up a batch of Pooch Pops using the following ingredients:
Low fat yogurt (if your dog has trouble with lactose you can cut the yogurt with water)
Mash or puree and add any 2 of the following:
Strawberries, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, kiwi, or raspberries
Freeze in an ice cube tray, a Popsicle mold or paper bathroom cup until solid.
Keeping in mind the question of safety in the foods you offer to Fido, you and your dog can enjoy the fresh fruit and vegetables of summer. Happy snacking!