For a pet in Austin, summer-time can be an uncomfortable and possibly dangerous time. Today, we are going to look at some ways to beat the heat, and even some treats that you can make your furkid.
I want to first look at some myths that pet parents have had for decades concerning their furkids and ice and cold treats. I also want to review what a Kong is, and how to use one – specifically for some relief in the summer. And later, I want to give you some simple treats that will keep your furkid cool.
Really, what I want to do is help you give your furkid some happy summer treats, stay cool and stay safe. Heat stroke can be a real medical condition for many dogs in the summer in Austin.
Using these tips and recommendations, we are hoping your Austin summer is an incredibly fun and comfortable one for your dog!
Dog Myths in the Summertime Heat
I’ve heard the myth that some dogs will bloat when eating ice or drinking ice water on hot days. This is a myth. It is not true.
Bloating is not caused by eating cold foods or drinking cold water. Bloat is usually seen in large breed dogs with deep-chests (like St. Bernards, Newfoundlands, Great Danes, German Shepherds, Weimaraners, etc.). It is caused when the dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or liquid. The stomach expands and puts pressure on other organs.
Sometimes the stomach will rotate which will trap blood in the stomach. This prevents the trapped blood from returning to the heart and other organs. This, too, is a medical emergency.
However, it is NOT caused by eating ice.
Ice is AWESOME for dogs in the summer-time Austin heat
Ice is a great treat in the summer. There are only a few things to keep in mind when feeding your dog icy treats.
Eating ice can cause some dogs to throw up. Not all dogs will. But be aware that this can happen and there is no way to tell which dogs do or don’t tolerate too much ice.
One summer I was traveling during a very hot day with my two Newfoundland when my car broke down in the middle of nowhere. I had to call a tow truck and it took an hour for help to arrive. By that time my dogs had been in the heat of the day for an hour and were very hot.
The tow truck took us to a car dealership. The manager of the service department was very nice and he allowed my Newfies to stay in the air conditioned waiting area.
Several car salesmen saw my dogs and, wishing to be friendly, brought them ice water to drink. Before I could stop them both dogs were drinking the ice water like there was no tomorrow.
The first dog tolerated the water just fine but the second dog began throwing up pretty immediately.
I’m sure the manager of the car dealership wasn’t too pleased with us.
Ice does have a hazard for dogs, but not bloating
Ice should not be served in a form that can become a choking hazard. The size of the container that the liquid is frozen in should match the size of your pet. A toy dog may do very well with cubes of liquid frozen in an ice cube tray.
A small dog may do well with a muffin liner filled with a frozen treat. Tear off the paper liner before giving it to your dog.
A large dog may do better with a treat frozen in a 15 oz container (the size of a margarine tub).
Keep in mind that ice can wear away the enamel on a dog’s teeth. It can also fracture a dog’s teeth. And sharp pointed edges on ice can cut their gums. For this reason, I think stuffing and freezing a Kong or similar type toy is the very best way to serve an icy treat.
What is a Kong? Will your dog like one?
A Kong is a non-toxic rubber toy with a hollowed center. When stuffed, in this case, with cool liquids or treats, it can play into your pet’s natural desire to lick and chew. For the summer, this is a perfect way to keep your dog cool and comfortable.
Will your pet like one?
In my experience as a pet owner and as a pet sitter, the simple answer is YES!
Dogs (cats as well), have a natural desire to hunt, scavenge and work for their meal. A Kong plays into this by giving your dog a toy that varies in size and also in what you can fill it with as a reward for their natural reaction to their inner hunters.
Stuffing and freezing a Kong for your dog
There are two methods to stuffing and freezing a Kong for your dog. Depending on what you are using for filling, the size of the Kong and your dog, and your own personal preference, one will be better for you and your furkid.
The first way is much easier. Basically you are plugging the smallest hole with something edible. Foods like a piece of apple, kibble soaked in water or a piece of meat all work nicely. You then fill the rest of the Kong with a liquid and freezing it.
Here is the full explanation for you!
- Use a safe, edible food to plug the small end
- Cover this with a layer of low fat peanut butter, low fat cream cheese or Kong Stuff’N, or similar product
- Make sure the small hole is completely sealed
- Place the Kong with the small hole down into a mug, cup, or small bowl
- Fill the large hole with the liquid or runny filling
- Place the entire thing in the freezer for 4 to 5 hours
The second way is a bit harder, and can be messier to perform. Plug the larger hole in much the same way as this first method. Make sure the large hole is completely sealed.
Next, cover the large hole with a flat plate and flip it over so that the plate is on the bottom and the end of the Kong with the small whole is now on top. This is a temporary ‘plug’ for the filling that you will be using for your furkid and their Kong.
Fill a plastic bag with the liquid or runny food. Cut a small corner of the plastic bag. Pipe the food into the small hole at the top of the Kong.
Press firmly down on top of the Kong so that it sits tightly on the plate and carry it to the freezer. Place it onto a flat shelf on the freezer and let sit for 4 to 5 hours. Some liquid may pool on the plate; this is fine.
To remove the Kong from the plate after the insides are frozen, gently rock the Kong back and forth or run a small amount of hot water onto the plate to melt the ice that is keeping it stuck.
When the center is frozen using either method, usually after about 4 to 5 hours in the freezer, it is ready to be given to your dog.
Keep in mind that this is a messy treat so your dog should be kept confined to an area easily cleaned like a tile floor or their crate.
Food ideas for stuffing and freezing in a Kong for your dog
Yogurt makes a great base for mixing with other foods. Choose plain, nonfat and unflavored yogurt. The yogurt should contain only milk and live cultures. Be very sure that it does not contain artificial sweeteners or added sugars.
Why not try fresh fruit? Puree a peeled ripe banana, or a handful of blueberries, or a few strawberries, or a few slices of apple (no seeds or core) and mix it into the yogurt. You could also use a little canned pumpkin, making sure pumpkin is the only ingredient listed on the can.
Baby food is another choice that you can make for this. Choose foods that have no onion or garlic and that do not contain added sugars or salt. Vegetable, or Meat and vegetable entrees work well. Open the jar, stuff the Kong and freeze.
You can also use the following foods, depending on what your furkid likes.
- Low-sodium, low-fat chicken stock or beef broth and cooked carrots
- Vegetarian refried beans
- Canned dog foods
Don’t let this list stop you from using other foods with your Kong. By knowing your furkid, and experimenting with different treats, you can really help to keep your dog cool this summer.
Kongs aren’t the only treats in the summer
The summers in Austin can get ridiculously hot. This summer is like most others. For humans, we can find comfort with shade, fans and some iced tea. For our furkids, this just isn’t the case.
Today, I hope I’ve given you some solid ideas for helping your dog beat the heat with cool treats and fun toys. I hope you have learned what a Kong is, and how to use one for some summer relief.
Want some really good, quick treats to give your furkid?
- Freeze a peeled carrot
- Freeze a hot dog
- Cooked frozen green beans
All of these are healthy, and fun treats for your furkid.
Remember to give cool treats, plenty of fresh, cool water, and take care of your furkid on those hot days.