Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dog Food: Stuffed Kongs

Our dogs officially consume three things: food, cookies, and kongs. I shall address these in a completely random order over the next few days. I concede most of our homemade dog food mania is insane. However, the one thing that I really do think a lot of dog owners don't do that would really make a difference in the quality of life of their dog is providing a stuffed kong, or stuffed kong analog, before you leave the house for any considerable length of time.

Stuffed Kongs

OK, technically they shouldn't "consume" the kong. But they do consume whatever we stuff inside the kong. And it wasn't always a kong.

This particular aspect of our DIY dog food mania started with our dog walker in Maryland. She said our dogs were bored out of their minds when she came to walk them in the middle of the day and we should provide some sort of stimulation for them whenever we left the house for long periods of time. She suggested marrow bones. Once the dogs cleaned out the marrow from the center of the bones she suggested we refill them with something and freeze them (the bones, not the dogs - the refilling part they'd enjoy, but the freezing, not so much). At first we refilled them with straight peanut butter. This turned Augie and Izzy into fat little spheres of fur with chubby little appendages. Cute, but not healthy. So we switched to a mixture of peanut butter and rice. They lost some weight, but were still pretty chubby. Then I discovered PB2.

PB2 is made by Bell Plantation in Tifton, Georgia. It is, essentially, powdered peanut butter. You mix it with water to make it creamy and spreadable. In two tablespoons it has 1.87 g of fat and 53.2 calories. Compare that to your traditional peanut butter at 16 g of fat and 200 calories for the same two tablespoon serving.

There are three reasons why we switched to PB2 from regular peanut butter for the dogs' kongs' stuffing. 1. The powder of the PB2 mixed straight into cooked rice makes a really lovely paste that, once frozen, the dogs find challenging. 2. The dogs were becoming obese on regular peanut butter. 3. We were becoming obese on regular peanut butter. If there's regular peanut butter in the house, I will eat it. And I don't mean on the occasional sandwich. I mean with a spoon until the container is empty. While PB2 is awesome, it is not eat with a spoon until the container is empty awesome. And that is a good thing. Enough about me and my peanut butter addiction.

The transition from bones to kongs was the latest step in this journey. Just as we were leaving Indiana our vet noted that Augie has lost some teeth and Izzy has chipped some of his teeth. The culprit: marrow bones. So we switched to stuffing and freezing kongs instead of marrow bones. Now we're pretty settled on PB2 and puffed rice (generic Rice Krispies) for the stuffing, though I occasionally use regular peanut butter diluted with water when we're between PB2 shipments. I also occasionally substitute real rice for puffed rice when we have PB2 because the powder mixes so easily into the rice and it doesn't lose any volume.

Stuffing content aside, we've found that Augie and Izzy have expressed zero separation anxiety since we started giving them stuffed kongs before we leave the house for long periods of time. When we had the dog walker we had two sets of frozen treats. I'd give them one when I left for work. The dog walker would give them one when she left after walking them. When I came home from work four to five hours later, they were calm as Hindu cows. Now that I work from home, I give them kongs before I go out to do errands. If I don't go out, I give them a kong about halfway between their morning meal and their evening meal. The midday snack postpones Izzy's whining for dinner (he grew up on the mean streets - food is VERY important to him). And when David works at home he finds the kongs a great way to get the dogs to leave him alone to do his work. Especially since we've switched from bones to kongs, they spend hours working on them and will often return to them later in the evening even though the filling is gone.

So while you may find the rest of our canine cuisine laughable, please consider a stuffed kong for your pooch.

Click here to return to Gnomicon home page


Rebecca said...

You should enter the video contest with your use of PB2.

We are converts too. I love PB2 mixed with honey as a dip for apples or just spread on a sandwich.

Rebecca said...

Have you guys tried the chocolate PB2 (not for the dogs, obviously)? I was wondering if it was any good.

Sarah said...

Hmm . . . if I can figure out how to get my camera to shoot video I might. Though we're currently out of PB2, so we won't be able to incorporate prize-winning product placement.

Mmm . . . PB2 and honey. I haven't tried that yet.

We have not tried chocolate PB2.

Thalia said...

You are totally selling me on this PB2 - both of you.

Hmmm. Sounds like both pups and me would enjoy it.


And it is Lent-friendly.