the scientific study of pet nutrition by veterinary nutrition specialists and experts.

Three Creative (and Healthy!) Summer Treat Ideas for Your Dog

Three Creative (and Healthy!) Summer Treat Ideas for Your Dog
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With the warmer summer months, here are a few of my favorite tips to provide refreshing treats to keep your pup cool and not unbalance their diet.

1. Berries, Bananas, and Melons, oh my!

While you’ll want to avoid any fruits that can be toxic or harmful to dogs (e.g., grapes), there are many high moisture options that can provide a refreshing and low calorie treat! Just a few examples are: blueberries or raspberries (only 1 kcal each), banana slices (1/4 of a banana is about 30 kcal), or melons like honeydew or watermelon (1/4 cup diced is 11 kcal). A full list can be found on our previous blog. These fruit pieces can be given as treats throughout the day or added into your pup’s regular meal as a fun way to introduce variety. Just be sure to remove cores or rinds, especially for smaller dogs,

2. Savory Summer Snacks

For dogs that don’t seem to enjoy sweet items as much, you can get creative with home-made broths even in the summer months. I recommend making a broth yourself as many commercial broths can be very high in sodium and can contain ingredients toxic to pets like onion or garlic. Once made, though, these broths can be frozen as a cool refreshing treat for your dog to lick or to add to regular meals to melt. There are also some ‘DIY’ fun-shaped popsicle trays to make frozen treats in various shapes and sizes for your pup to enjoy. You’ll want to be careful though if your dog is more of a chewer than a licker, be aware that firmly frozen treats could damage teeth similar to ice cubes.

3. Same Food, Summer Style!

Many dogs, especially those with medical conditions on special diets, may have restrictions on what types of treats they should have. And all pets should get no more than 10% of their daily intake from treats to avoid unbalancing their diet. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t get creative with their regular diet to join in on the fun. If your dog currently receives wet food, a portion can also be added to ice cube or popsicle trays or for dogs that only receive dry food, water can be added to make a similar chilled or frozen slushie in the freezer (I aim for a slush-type consistency that is a little softer to avoid any teeth damage like mentioned above). A particular favorite for my own pup is to mix some additional water into his wet food to fill a rubber Kong toy that goes in the freezer. He always runs straight into his crate after we’ve been playing outside to await his frozen treat (and subsequent nap time!).



Dr. Deborah Linder, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, is the head of the Tufts Obesity Clinic for Animals and has had articles appear in Eating Well, the Boston Globe, AARP, SHAPE, and XM Sirius Radio Doctor Channel. She has spoken at national and international conferences and a Capitol Hill briefing, and is an expert in pet obesity, nutrition communication, and in the human-animal bond. 

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