It’s important to remember that treats should not provide more than five to 10% of your pet’s daily calories. They are not complete and balanced, meaning they can throw off the ratios of nutrients your pets are getting. Too many treats can also throw off their appetites, or worse, turn them into picky eaters.
That said, there are plenty of low calorie, cool treats you can give your cats and dogs to help them chill out in a fun way this summer.
Ice cubes – some cats love licking and swatting at ice cubes, providing an entertaining, zero-calorie treat. Or try freezing some dilute chicken broth, or top an ice cube with a light drizzle of water from the tuna can. She may also enjoy a few plain ice cubes in her water bowl.
Canned food “popsicles” – blend some of your cat’s favorite canned food with a little bit of water and freeze in an ice cube tray or little plastic cups. Let stand on the counter until condensation begins to form on the outside, then let kitty have at it!
Frozen vegetables – water-based vegetables like green beans and broccoli can make a great frozen treat for your feline friend – it sounds odd, but you just might be surprised how much she likes them!
Freezing treats inside a rubber chew toy is not only yummy, it can keep your dog amused for long periods of time. Try stuffing a toy (like a Kong, for example) with some canned food, canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), or peanut butter and kibble (this one is more decadent and calorie-dense than the others, so save this one for special occasions), and popping it in the freezer overnight.
Frozen veggies are a favorite of dogs – stick to water-based green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. to keep calories in check – vegetables with a lot of sugar, like carrots, add up more quickly than you’d think.
Plain, sugar-free yogurt with live bacterial cultures can be good for your dog’s gastrointestinal tract in small quantities – freeze a few tablespoons with some with kibble in an ice cube tray for a creamy dog-pop.
A word of caution: many dogs love ice cubes, but unlike cats, they may pick them up and crunch on them rather than licking them – which can lead to broken teeth. If your dog does get to an ice cube you’ve dropped before you do, just check to make sure there’s no damage to your dog’s teeth.