Petsicles: Staying Hydrated and Happy All Summer
Whether we’re out running with our dogs or taking in a breezy evening on the porch with our cats, hydration is critical to maintaining everyone’s health. And when the mood’s just right, we catch that natural urge to turn to something more flavorful than water: sports drinks, teas, fruit juices, adult beverages, etc — but what about our pets? Beyond keeping their water bowls freshly filled, what options are there?
Hydration: from the pet’s eyes
While cats and dogs do sweat, the process is not a primary method of temperature regulation. Dogs shed excess heat through panting, while cats and kittens recreate the evaporation-fueled cooling that sweat effectively provides by instead licking their fur — making the need to avoid dehydration that much more important.
Before you run to the freezer and grab a popsicle or ice cream to cool your pet down, remember that the nutritive value (or lack thereof) matters. Especially for smaller animals.
A 5oz sugary popsicle would fulfill a significant portion of a cat’s daily water needs but would include far too many calories at almost no nutritional benefit. Cats and dogs also crave flavors that we might find off-putting, like tuna-flavored water. It might not make the menu at your local bistro, but your cat may find it irresistible and fight dehydration at the same time.
How Do I Make Healthy Frozen Pet Treats?
The good news is that there are plenty of healthy, hydrating frozen treats out there. Most of which require a very short shopping list and just a few minutes of prep.
Most recipes are a variation on a theme: lots of fluid as a base, one or two key flavor ingredients and some time to set in your freezer. Keep it simple, avoid excessive sugar and salt, and try a few different recipes until you find the one your pet loves.
Trust us: You’ll find one they love.
(Note: For all of these recipes, avoid artificial sweeteners that you’ll find in unsuspecting food like peanut butter. Cat parents can make recipes more cat-friendly by replacing dairy and nut milk with a little water.
Dogs ✓ I Cats ✓
Skip the salty store-bought stuff. If you’re roasting or grilling a chicken, keep the leftover carcass, toss it in a pot with a few veggies, cover with fresh water and simmer for 90 minutes. Remove the bones and any hard cartilage, mash or blend the remainder, and let cool. Pour into your mold (ice cube trays work great), then simply freeze and serve your popsicles.
Dogs ✓ I Cats ✖
It wouldn’t be summer if there weren’t popsicles. Blend together one large banana, 15-17 oz of unsweetened greek yogurt and two tablespoons of natural peanut butter until smooth, then freeze in an ice cube tray. Tweak the recipe to your pet’s taste by trying other fruit, or adding small amounts of honey or agave as an extra treat.
Dogs ✓ I Cats ✖
Like a tropical getaway in a bowl. Cut a quarter of a seedless watermelon into one-inch chunks, then add it to a blender or food processor along with one 13-ounce can of coconut milk. Blend until smooth and freeze in your molds or tupperware.
Dogs ✓ I Cats ✓
A meat lover’s paradise. Add one can of flaked tuna in water (not oil), and approximately twice as much additional water. Plunk the ingredients to a bowl, mash the tuna to break it up into smaller bits, and freeze in your molds.