I’ve collected some tips and recipes for ice creams that are suitable for dogs.
Ice cream doesn’t have to look like a sundae on a cone
Dogs enjoy cold treats on hot summer days just like we do. Ice cream made for humans isn’t suitable for dogs because it contains large amount of sugar, lactose and additives that are no good for dogs. In addition many ice creams contains chocolate which is toxic to dogs. I’ve always prepared dog friendly ice creams for Miki and now I have collected some tips and recipes to this post.
Dogs don’t think about food like we do. They don’t think that ice cream means white and whirly soft ice on a cone. Or they don’t see ice cream as sweet and fruity as we do - tuna or liver ice cream sounds probably better. This knowledge allows you to prepare all kinds cold “ice cream” treats for your dog - and only sky is the limit.
Foods that are and aren’t okay for dogs
Before you start creating all possible flavour combinations, you should know that all foods we eat are not okay for dogs. Some dogs have food allergies, but I’m not talking about that. There are some foods that are toxic for all dogs and they can even be lethal. If you aren’t sure if you should or shouldn’t give something for your dog to eat you should always ask your vet for advice.
Toxic and dangerous foods for all dogs:
- onions, garlic, leek and chives
- fruit seeds
- cooked bones
- macadamia nuts
- dairy (containing lactose)
- greasy foods, like bacon or fat trimmings
- chunks of raw root vegetables
- yeast and dough
- white pepper
- caffeine (coffee)
Foods that are controversial or might be okay in small doses:
- wheat and bread
- egg white
- cheese (because the amount of fat)
- potato (especially green bits and potato peels)
- egg plant
- chili pepper
Foods that are perfectly okay for dogs to eat:
- lean meat, game and guts
- chicken and turkey
- egg yolk
- lactose free and low fat dairy, like sour milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese and quark
- cooked root vegetables, like carrot, sweet potato and turnip. You should never give chunks of raw root vegetables to your dog, because they can lead to intestinal blockage.
- oats and white rice
- cucumber, pumpkin and zucchini
- salads, cabbage and spinach
- broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprout
- banana, pineapple and kiwi
- apple, pear, melons, plums, peach, nectarine and mango (they need to be deseeded)
- capsicum (deseeded)
- peas and green beans
- berries, like strawberry, blueberry/bilberry, raspberry, lingonberry, cranberry
- natural peanut butter in small doses
Ice cream can be simple
Dog’s aren’t vegetarians - although they like to eat vegetables - so you should always start planning all of your dogs meals from animal protein, like meat. A dog’s meal should contain at least 50% animal protein. Best ratio is something like 2/3 to 3/4 meat per dish. So if you have 10 oz meat you should add about 3-5 oz rice/oats/vegetables/lactose free dairy.
Ice cream doesn’t have to be complicated. I usually choose one type of meat and one or two types of vegetables that I happen to have in the fridge. Miki values every single food item I give to him so he would eat two pounds of lettuce or cucumber at one sitting if he were given the choice. You can read more about dogs’ food motivation from here.
I’ve bought a separate cooking pot for Miki’s foods and it’s suitable to use with a stick blender. The easiest way to prepare the ice cream patés is to blend all ingredients in one pot.
The meat/poultry/fish can be fresh or frozen. In Finland you can buy frozen raw meat from pet stores and they usually have a good selection of them. I usually have a few of these in the freezer, just in case, because they are so convenient:
You should remember that you must not freeze again any products that are defrosted if you haven’t cooked them thoroughly in between. If you don’t want to boil the meat yourself you can always buy these ready made patés from Trixie:
What types of molds should you use?
When you are choosing the molds think about the size of your dog, how practical the molds are and the situation you are going to give the ice creams. For a smaller dog you should use really small molds so that the dog won’t gain extra weight. For a larger dog you can choose the molds little bit more freely. Remember to also think about the practicality of the molds because it’s a lot easier to take the ice cream out of mold made out of silicone or rubber than one made from a hard plastic.
When choosing the molds you should think about the situations when you are going to give the ice cream to your dog. If on a warm and sunny day you are going to give the dogs whole meal as an ice cream you should use larger molds. Or if you want to give your dog some cold and small treats during the day pick a smaller molds like an ice cube tray. On the other hand if you want to give your dog a mental challenge while he’s eating the ice cream you should put it in a Kong toy or use an ice cube tray that has small holes and then you can give the whole tray to your dog to lick. If you give larger cubes to your dog to chew, it’s better for his teeth because they will help to keep his teeth clean. Chewing on frozen food reduces plaque and that means less tartar.
I usually make a large portion and divide it to different molds. Then I have a selection of ice creams in my freezer ready to go.
Here are some basic instructions. You can change the animal protein or the vegetables to those your dog likes the most. Miki loves everything :D In the summer time I usually add some extra water into the ice creams to keep Miki hydrated.
Frozen meat and raw vegetables
- 500g (about 17,5 oz) frozen raw meat
- 100g (about 3,5 oz) sweet potato
- 50g (about 2 oz) broccoli
Boil some water in a pot and add the frozen meat to a boiling water. Chop the veggies to very small cubes so they cook quickly. When the meat is half cooked add the veggies and boil long enough that the veggies become soft. Pour out most of the water but leave like a cup on the bottom - that helps you to puré the mixture.
I use a stick blender but you can use normal blender as well. When the mixture was smooth I put the hot pot into a sink with cold water to lower the temperature faster.
When the mixture had cooled enough I divided it into various molds. This time I used Kong toys, two different ice cube trays and yoghurt cups.
Fresh meat and white rice
- 400g (about 14 oz) fresh meat
- 50g (about 2 oz) uncooked white rice
- 1dl (about 1/2 cup) lactose free natural yoghurt
Boil the rice and add some extra water. When the rice is almost cooked (about 5 minutes left) add the meat and mix it with the rice and let it cook for the rest 5 mins. Blend the mixture until it’s smooth and then let it cool down (or place the pot in the sink with cold water). When it has cooled down add the yoghurt and divide it to molds before freezing.
Trixie patés and fresh greens
- 1 tube of Trixie liver paté
- 50g (about 2 oz) greens like cucumber or salad OR 1dl (about 1/2 cup) lactose free natural yoghurt
This is one of the easiest recipes. Just blend the chosen greens and add the paté from the tube. Or if you use yoghurt then just mix the yoghurt and the paté together. This is so convenient when you are in a hurry.
Pimped wet food
If your dog is on wet food diet you can puré the wet food and freeze it just like that. Or you can add something to it, like carrot puré or yoghurt.
This is almost too easy!
Actual ice cream
If you think your dog should have a proper ice cream instead of meat and veggie mixture, here’s a recipe for you. I make this same ice cream for myself but I add a little bit brown sugar into my bowl. So why don’t make a larger batch, divide it to half and mix some honey or sugar on your half so you and your dog can enjoy (almost) the same ice cream together :)
- 2dl (about one cup) lactose free natural yoghurt
- 1 ripe banana
- two tablespoons natural peanut butter or some natural berries like strawberries
Puré the banana (and/or the berries) first. Add yoghurt (and peanut butter) and freeze. So simple.
If your dog likes melon or other fruit, please feel free to alter the recipe.
Sous-chef is always helping
As I wrote before Miki sure does love all food, but nothing beats freshly cooked meat. That’s why I always have a sous-chef helping in the kitchen when I prepare the ice creams (or any other food as a matter of fact) :) My sous-chef knows the only way to get samples is to quietly lay down and wait on the rug. He knows that circling in my feet or begging other ways are sure ways to get nothing.
Miki waited like a pro this time. When I had filled all the Kongs, ice cube trays and empty cups available there was still a spoonful of the mixture left on the bottom of the pot. Miki sure had earned a sample so I gave him the well-earned leftovers.
Later on, when the ice creams were frozen:
Frozen wet food in Ikea’s Drömmar set: