Homemade Frozen Dog Treats
In today's Internet age, it's the rare "dog mom" who hasn't purchased, made or at least heard about Frosty Paws® for dogs. Those who haven't have been missing out, or more perhaps accurately, their dogs have been missing out! Frosty Paws® are creamy, nutritious, healthful (but unfortunately somewhat expensive) frozen treats that dogs adore. Enjoyable year round, they're especially welcome in the summer months as they're the canine equivalent of ice cream. Homemade versions, which lack preservatives, are more healthful than store brands, and cost less as well!
Basic Homemade Frosty Paws® Recipe
32 oz. plain yogurt
1 mashed ripe banana
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
Mix all of the ingredients with a blender or mixer and freeze in ice cube trays. Small paper cups and disposable egg cartons also make good molds. When frozen, microwave for a few seconds, unmold, and place the treats in a plastic bag and store in the freezer. (Note: if using Styrofoam egg cartons or cups, rest the containers briefly in a partially filled pan of warm water to loosen contents. Unless the Styrofoam is labeled as microwave safe, it could melt.) If you want to be fancy, bone and paw shaped molds are available.
This is where the fun part begins! Using only the yogurt as a base, there are any number of ways to vary the original recipe. You're only limited by your imagination. Because these treats are frozen, their consistency is less important than when experimenting with baked goods. Below are a few variations my own dogs have heartily endorsed.
Use fruit and flavored yogurt instead of plain. I've used vanilla, blueberry, and strawberry/banana with good success.
Mix the yogurt with a packet of low sodium powdered chicken bouillon (Herb Ox has sodium free chicken granules) and a cup of low sodium chicken broth.
One large jar of baby food is approximately equal to one banana. So instead of the banana, use the baby food of your choice. My dogs LOVE meat baby food. Unfortunately, this only seems to come in small jars. Use three or four jars of the meat of your choice in place of the banana, peanut butter and honey.
Puree the yogurt in a blender with a can of mackerel or salmon.
Scramble or boil several eggs, and puree them with the yogurt. You can use raw eggs, but then enters the (small) risk of salmonella poisoning. (I occasionally use raw eggs, but I raise my own free range chickens and have control over the cleanliness of their nests.). Raw egg whites destroy biotin, a necessary B vitamin. Raw egg yolks, however, are a rich source of biotin and offset the raw egg white. Do not feed raw egg whites by themselves as over time this practice could lead to a biotin deficiency.
Puree the yogurt with raw chicken or beef liver. Raw liver purees with ease. Liver is rich, and a little goes a long way. Too much will give a dog diarrhea.
You get the idea ... you truly ARE only limited by your imagination!
Broth Based Treats
For dogs on a diet, or who cannot eat dairy, instead of yogurt, defatted chicken broth may be used as a base. This is easy to make. Place a whole chicken in a big pot and cover with water to which you have added carrots, garlic, and low sodium bouillon.Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until cooked, approximately one hour. When done, remove the chicken, strain the broth, and refrigerate overnight. The fat will rise to the top and harden.The next day, skim off the fat. What remains is your broth base. The broth alone makes a nice doggie Popsicle, but jars of meat baby food, canned fish, cooked eggs, or diced, cooked chicken, are all great additions. Sometimes I hide a small cooked treat in the half frozen broth when I use the broth alone.
Perhaps my dogs' favorite frozen treat is this:
Save chicken carcasses in the freezer until you have several, and then put them into a pressure cooker with enough water to partially cover. Cook at fifteen or twenty pounds of pressure for an hour and a half. When cool, the bones are so soft that they "mush" when touched. Transfer the contents of the pressure cooker to a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Mix the bone puree with equal quantities of defatted chicken broth, place in molds, and freeze. My dogs love these. Yours will too!
Several commenters have expressed concern over possible additives to meat baby food being harmful to dogs, so I did a little research. Gerber® is a national brand that sells four meat foods (Beef & Beef Gravy, Chicken & Chicken Gravy, Turkey & Turkey Gravy and Ham & Ham Gravy) in their 2'd Foods line, and they all have only three ingredients: meat, water, and cornstarch. This product should be on the shelf at your local grocery store!