It’s been really hot in my neck of the woods recently. My family has been hitting the pool and enjoying many popsicles and bowls of ice cream to stay cool. I’ve been doing the same for my dog Apollo. We’re lucky that our local dog park has a pond, and that’s certainly his favorite spot these days. I also just made him a few puppy popsicles (“pupsicles” if you prefer), and he loves them!
Apollo is on an extremely restricted diet due to his severe inflammatory bowel disease, so we can’t make use of any of the commercially available frozen dog treats out there. His pupsicles are pretty basic. I take approximately one cup of his prescription food, mix it with one cup of water and heat it in the microwave on high for one minute. Cooking the mixture speeds the breakdown of the kibble, but if you’re more patient than I, you can simply let it sit on the counter. I use my hand blender (originally purchased to make smoothies but now collecting dust on a shelf) to combine the softened kibble and water. A regular blender, potato masher, or even aggressive stirring with a fork could work too. The final consistency is similar to a gluey pancake batter (yum!). If you feed canned food, skip the microwave and reduce the amount of water you add to get a similar result.
Next, I pour a shallow layer of the mixture into some old, small Tupperware containers and recycled sandwich bags and place them in the freezer. Because the pupsicles are flat and thin, they don’t take long to freeze, even if the “batter” is warm. Many people use old ice cube trays to make frozen treats for their dogs, but I worry that their shape and slipperiness makes them a choking hazard. Once frozen, pop the pupsicles out of the Tupperware or peel away the sandwich bag, and voila, treat city. Watch your dog while he is eating his pupsicle. To avoid damage to his teeth, he should be able to crush the frozen treat easily. If the pupsicle is too hard, let it melt a little, and try reducing the amount of water in your recipe next time.
If your dog is not on a restricted diet, you can make his pupsicles more interesting than just a frozen reformulation of his regular food. Try pureeing peanut butter, apple slices, and water together, or how about soy nut butter, banana, and water; or carrots, cooked white meat chicken, and a little broth? The possibilities are almost endless. Of course, there are some foods to avoid including avocados, chocolate, coffee, garlic, onion, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, mushrooms, and the artificial sweetener xylitol, but with some creative thinking you’ll surely be able to come up with a safe and delicious combination that your dog will love.
All this sound too complicated? Buy some frozen, whole green beans and feed them to your dog right out of the bag.
Dr. Jennifer Coates