As the weather heats up, humans aren’t the only ones who start craving sweet, cold treats like ice cream and ice pops. My dog, Maggie, has long been a fan of homemade ice cream for dogs, which is made to be healthier and easier to digest than actual ice cream made for human beings. When it’s hot outside, I make her a set of these sweet treats and then give them in small amounts after a long romp around outside. I’ve perfected the recipe for my dog’s own ice cream, which I carefully designed to meet her nutritional needs without the sugar and lactose found in frozen desserts for humans.
The ingredients you’ll need for homemade ice cream for dogs include one half-cup of peanut butter and one cup of unsweetened yogurt as the base. Unsweetened yogurt has very little sugar, and thanks to the probiotics (or “friendly bacteria”), it is easier to digest than milk. I also add a quarter-cup of canned pumpkin, which helps to facilitate healthy digestion in dogs and cats, and three tablespoons of white chocolate chips, which satisfies a dog’s sweet tooth but doesn’t contain the potentially dangerous chocolate compound theobromine, found in dark and milk chocolate. I use ice pop molds for my dog’s ice cream recipes, but you can also use empty cups, hollow marrow bones, and ice cube trays.
First, mix all the ingredients into one large mixing bowl. It may take a while for the mixture to homogenize, since the heavier peanut butter tends to sink to the top and the cream in the unsweetened yogurt tends to rise. You can take the shortcut by using an electric blender. If you want your mixture thicker, add in a little cornstarch a little at a time. If you want it thinner, gradually blend in a small amount of warm water.
Once you’ve got everything well-blended, carefully pour the mixture into the molds, marrow bone, or ice cube tray. Freeze it for at least five hours to get it thick and hard. You can serve these treats as everyday snacks, in the same way that you might normally use dog biscuits, or you can reserve the “ice cream” for when your dog has been running a lot in hot or warm weather. You might even consider bringing some to the dog park to share!
You can modify the recipe for ice cream for dogs depending on your dog’s taste preferences. Some good add-ins for doggie ice cream include shredded carrot, apple bits, or crushed treats. There’s really no limit, but bear in mind that some common human foods are dangerous to dogs, including onions, grapes, raisins, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, avocado, and macadamia nuts. If you need any help figuring out which homemade treats to include in your pup’s diet, or balancing nutrition between treats and meals, touch base with his veterinarian for expert advice.