In 2015, manufacturers of commercial dog and cat foods and treats issued 28 recalls, some for multiple products, due to the potential presence of listeria or salmonella bacteria, mold, dangerous levels of cumulatively harmful propylene glycol, inadequate thiamine, elevated levels of vitamin D, off odors or labeling problems (Tinyurl.com/PetFoodRecallList). In response, homemade treats have grown in popularity to ensure that pets enjoy safe and healthy snacks.
“Most summer fruits work naturally to cool the body,” advises Cathy Alinovi, co-author of Dinner PAWsible: A Cookbook of Nutritious Homemade Meals for Cats and Dogs, in Pine Village, Indiana. “Healthful treats, made from the best ingredients, are a good way to take a break from summer heat.”
She suggests taking a refreshing look at low-calorie fruits and veggies such as stuffed celery used in creative, tasty ways. After removing strings, fill celery logs with plain yogurt and freeze. To serve, cut into one-bite pieces appropriate for a dog’s size.
Another easy favorite is filling an ice cube tray two-thirds full with Greek-style or traditional plain yogurt mixed with diced strawberries or whole blueberries and freeze overnight. For cats, omit the fruit and instead add bits of mercury-free water-packed tuna or salmon as a special treat. Add fresh or dried catnip to catch Kitty’s attention.
“Once when fixing dinner, I dropped a piece of frozen yellow squash and the dogs dove for it,” says writer Livia J. Washburn, in Azle, Texas, of her Chihuahuas. “Nicki waits for things to hit the floor; Nora showed her game face and won the Squash War.”
“Obesity is the number one nutritional disease affecting our pets, so summertime activities that avoid overheating are vital for overall health,” says Veterinarian Jeff Werber, a veterinary medical journalist with a Los Angeles practice. “Proper nutrition is critical—not only to the foods we feed, but to the treats we give.”