Did you get a puppy during the COVID lockdown?
I was tempted myself but kept thinking that when things “get back to normal” we might be traveling again. With pets, the expense of a sitter for the duration of the trip could get costly.
Instead, we have a cat that comes around when he is hungry, who belongs to the family a few houses away. The grandkids call him Pumpkin Leopard because of his coloration and stripes. He is also seen at our neighbor’s garage, where he hangs out. So no commitment, a part-time pet when he feels like it; no veterinarian expenses to contend with for us.
If you are a new owner of a puppy, did you know chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains two compounds — caffeine and theobromine — that can cause life-threatening seizures and rapid breathing?
If your puppy has gotten into your chocolate stash, signs of toxicity will appear 6-12 hours after ingestion. There might be abnormal thirst, restlessness, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures and rapid breathing. If these symptoms are severe, it might be wise to go to the veterinarian.
What is interesting is that dogs have evolved to be omnivores, so their diet can include some vegetables, fruits and grains. On the other hand, that independent cat is a true carnivore, whose diet needs to be 80%-90% meat. However, too much fish upsets their digestive systems.
Making your own doggie treat is fun and you are able to control the ingredients. Just as I made my own baby food when my three boys were infants, if I had a puppy, I would probably make dog treats.
Homemade Dog Treats
Makes: 48 treats (depending on your shape)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine:
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup natural peanut butter (check label to make sure it does not contain xylitol or any other sugar substitutes)
Stir until completely combined. Add and stir until just combined:
2 cups whole wheat or all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (do not use pumpkin pie spice that contains nutmeg, which is toxic to dogs)
Lightly flour a flat surface and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick, add more flour to keep the dough from sticking.
Cut into shapes and place on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 20-40 minutes, depending on the size of desired level of crunchiness.
Remove treats from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container for up to one month in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.
King Arthur Baking has a dog biscuit recipe with its flour:
In a large mixing bowl, add:
2 cups King Arthur white whole wheat flour or premium whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats, regular or quick
1 tablespoon dried parsley or 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup King Arthur’s Baker’s special dry milk or nonfat dry milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
Stir to combine. Add:
2 large eggs
1 cup crunchy peanut butter (check for no presence of artificial sweeteners)
Stir to combine. The mixture will be crumbly.
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon cold water, or enough to make a cohesive dough.
To make dog cookies, drop the dough in walnut-sized balls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten to 1/4-inch thick.
Or roll out dough on a floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness and cut into shapes. It is not going to look pretty, but your dog will not care what it looks like.
Bake biscuits for about 25 minutes for round pressed ones, 40-60 minutes for the rolled-out, cookie cutter shape, depending on what size you made.
When the biscuits are done, they will be dark golden brown and be dry and crispy all the way.
Here’s a recipe from Le Marcel Dog Bakery in San Francisco:
Chow Chow Cheddar Stars
Makes: 25-30 treats
1 cup powdered cheddar cheese (or grated cheddar cheese)
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
3 cups rice flour, plus more for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper. Combine the powdered cheese, honey, applesauce and egg in a large bowl. Add the rice flour and mix with a rubber spatula until combined. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll out until 1/4-inch thick. Cut out stars with a 3-inch cookie cutter.
Arrange the stars on the baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned on the bottom, 10-12 minutes. Transfer the stars to a rack and let cool completely.
Nonfood thoughts about taking care
• Having a pet means you as an owner need to be responsible for it. According to the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, cats that are not kept indoors and allowed to roam, kill more than 400 million birds in the United States annually. Consider a colorful collar on those cats with a bell attached so the birds can spot them and fly away.
• Please do not let your dog out to poop on your neighbor’s yard. Be considerate and walk your dog, and then pick up their poop. I always have to check our backyard before the grandchildren go out because we have neighborhood dogs that think our yard is their toilet.
Email Audrey Wilson at email@example.com.