Healthy Holiday Treats for Our Pets
As with families everywhere, special taste treats are on the menu for many dogs, cats and wild birds during the holiday season. Owners are cautioned not to share rich, unfamiliar foods from the table that can be detrimental to an animal’s health. Better fare are homemade treats of organic, safe and tasty ingredients—true gifts from the heart.
Homemade assures the quality of ingredients, avoids unhealthy additives and allows the giver to adjust for individual taste or food sensitivities. Most healthy recipes can be made from readily available ingredients.
Offer them a variety of seeds and fresh water. Always use unsalted, unseasoned seeds. Mix harder-to-crack striped sunflower seeds with the smaller black oil version to attract the largest number of birds. Organically grown peanuts in the shell, dried fruit, oranges, pomegranates or rehydrated raisins offer a burst of energy. Impale round fruits, halved, on a small dowel rod attached to the feeding table to hold them in place.
Note that oats go to waste, shelled sunflower seeds spoil and cracked corn attracts raccoons. Pass on any kind of popcorn.
Mix one part organic peanut butter with five parts organic, non-GMO (genetically modified) corn meal. Smear into a pinecone to hang from a branch or directly on tree bark for woodpeckers and wrens to enjoy. Don’t use low-fat peanut butter because birds need to pack in the calories in order to stay warm.
Organic catnip, fresh or dried and baked into a crunchy treat, will bring kitty running. In recipes, avoid canned tuna because of bisphenol A (BPA) concerns; also minimize the frequency and portion of tuna and salmon treats due to mercury accumulation in the fish. Unseasoned tuna or salmon packed in water in a pouch is a better choice. Many recipes labeled for dogs can be converted for cats by making them into smaller bites.