We had some friends and their dogs (these friends & dogs) over to our house a few weeks ago for Thanksgiving. One of their dogs is of the senior persuasion and they have taken to feeding him as healthy as they can – this includes raw meat and lots of healthy veggies. All the dogs got a very special Thanksgiving plate with scraps of beef, fish, potatoes celery and carrots. We usually have a very strict “no people food” rule at Foster House (except for peanut butter Kongs, of course). However, since it was a special occasion, and the treat would be given to him in his regular doggie dish, we couldn’t let Oscar be left out.
All the dogs loved their Thanksgiving treat, especially Oscar, who doesn’t ever get people food (except when we’re not looking and our friends decide to defy our rules – you know who you are!!) Ashley was telling us how it’s actually very healthy for dogs to get veggies in their diet every once in a while. It makes sense – in the wild, dogs are foragers and hunters. They eat animal as well as plant protein.
This got me thinking about how much “junk” we feed our dogs. I’m not talking about just dog food – to be honest, we spend a crap ton (probably more than we need to) on very good, healthy dog food for Oscar. Especially now, since we’re having to keep Kaylee and Oscar separated and re-introduce them slowly, we’re giving more treats and stuffed Kongs to keep one busy while the other gets People Time. Our go-to Kong stuffin’ is usually peanut butter, which isn’t necessarily bad for dogs on it’s own, but I don’t want to over-load them with a lot of unneccessary fat if I don’t have to.
So I thought to myself, what’s healthier than peanut butter that I could stuff in a Kong, that the dogs will love just as much? I immediately thought of the pup’s Thanksgiving feast – veggies, of course! But how to go about it?
**WARNING** You are about to join in me in my official decent into “crazy-dog-lady-ness,” but since you are reading this blog you are probably half way there yourself, if not there already. So here we go…
I bring you: The Veggie Kong!
Step 1: Identify veggies for use. I had some celery, carrots and spinach salad mix that was about to go bad (but not quite). You could also use green beans, asparagus, squash, potatoes, or peas. Check out this Modern Dog article for more ideas on healthy food that’s safe for dogs.
Step 2: cut up into pieces & microwave to soften. Add to food processor and chop into itty bitty pieces.
Step 3: mix all the itty bitty pieces together and put into plastic baggie. Cut the corner off of the baggie for ease of Kong-filling (this is also the only way to make deviled eggs, by the way).
Step 4: spread small amount of peanut butter around inside of Kong. This may turn out to be an optional step depending on how the dogs take to the Veggie Kong, but since this was a first attempt the peanut butter is for bribery.
Step 5: fill Kong with veggie mixture.
And voilà! The finished product: A Veggie Kong
Now doesn’t that just look delicious? With bonus of being healthy and affordable! The dogs still get the yummy of peanut butter that they love, without an entire Kong full of it. I ended up just chopping up all the veggies I had, so I have a good deal extra. Tonight I’m going to try mixing in some yogurt or more peanut butter and rolling them into balls and freezing them.
It wasn’t until I was finished that I even thought to think of the financial aspect of this alternative to regular treats…a 17.5 oz tub of freeze-dried liver treats (ie, heaven on earth if you’re our dogs) costs us nearly $30. Thirty dollars! For dog treats! This wasn’t a big deal when it was just Oscar, we didn’t go through them all that fast. But with two dogs in the house we amp up the training, and therefore the rewards, we’re flying through that stuff! This whole batch, while a little more time-consuming, only cost a couple bucks. And they were a hit!
What are some of your dogs’ favorite healthy treats? Do you splurge, or make them anything special? Go ahead and spill with the dog-crazy, you’re among friends!
Don’t forget, Kaylee is still looking for her furever home! To adopt Kaylee, contact Agape Animal Rescue.