In a word: Kongs. Kongs make dogs happy. They probably don’t care much what you fill them with as long as it’s tasty, but here are some of my favorite ways to add happiness to my pets’ day:
SWEET POTATOES Put scrubbed sweet potatoes in your crockpot. Add nothing else. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4 hours. Trust me. They are incredible. (My faves are the small ones at Trader Joe’s.)
Refrigerate, take one out and smash it into the Kong. You can add bits of green beans, apple and/or carrots, or biscuits. You can also feed it right away or freeze it for a treat that takes them a long time to get through. (Great for a summer treat!)
- APPLESAUCE My dogs love, love, love applesauce! Make sure you buy unsweetened so that you’re not feeding your dogs a lot of sugar. I give it to them on a spoon while I’m making their Kongs in the morning, but I also add it to their Kong. It’s an especially nice frozen treat in the summer, but mine love it anytime. I suggest having a jar just for the dogs. That way you won’t have to use a new spoon every time you give them a taste.
- CHICKEN BROTH Plug the bottom hole of the Kong with peanut butter or freeze a small amount of applesauce or sweet potato in the bottom, then pour in cold chicken broth and freeze. This is the summer treat of choice at my house!
- CHICKEN & RICE This one is a bit of work, but well worth it in the end. Save the scraps from rotisserie chickens, or any chicken that you have for meals, in a bag in the freezer. When you have a sufficient quantity, throw it in the crockpot with several cups of water (you’ll also get a good amount of broth), cook on low for the day or overnight. Once cooked and
cooled, take the meat off the bones, carefully, and the skin (great for your dog’s coat) and along with some cooked white rice, process in your food processor. Turn into a 9×13 pan and let it set up in the refrigerator. After it’s chilled, use an ice cream scoop and drop on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen, put into a freezer bag to store. I take out one ball each morning, thaw and fill. (I never measure when I make this. If my blended product isn’t thick enough I add puffed rice cereal to the desired thickness.) This is a great way to have a great filling for free!
- OATMEAL Someone didn’t finish their oatmeal? Toss it into the Kong! This is an especially nice treat when some apple is included, and works well for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
- EGGS Another treat is eggs. They are a good source of protein and are typically well-tolerated. Don’t think you’re doing your dog’s waistline a favor by not using the yolk. Egg whites alone can cause vitamin deficiencies in dogs.
- WALK with your dog. I cannot stress how important this is. Try it for a couple of weeks and you will be surprised at the deepening of your relationship. And, they can eat tasty Kong treats because they’re working hard
- APPLESAUCE DROPS Talk about an overachiever! The eighth of the seven ways is another food treat. Little frozen applesauce drops. They’re kind of like Hershey’s kisses, but good for the dog!
- BABY FOOD I know … Nine? If you don’t want to go through the steps above, just buy baby food and use that. You can fill Kongs and make tasty frozen drops with good quality baby food.
- ALL OF THE ABOVE! What my dogs really love is when I mix up several of the above foods. I take a spoon of sweet potato, one of applesauce and one of chicken & rice. I tuck pieces of green beans and carrots in and they are in heaven! I got started with the green beans when my garden had some pretty tough beans. Guess what? The dogs didn’t care. They liked them just fine.
The bottom line here is that there are many human foods that dogs tolerate quite well. When you decide to make a change to your dog’s diet, check with your vet to make sure it’s safe for your particular pet.
It was my goal to feed my dogs healthy treats. It seems to be working. Most people see my almost 12-year-old Standard Schnauzer and think he’s about 4 years old!