PAWS FOR THOUGH

EDITOR’S NOTE: Paws for Thought columnist Dr. Janice Mitchell is a veterinarian at Island Animal Hospital in Mindemoya and Little Current Veterinary Service in Little Current.

And they called it puppy love

At this time of year, we can all use and give extra love. Perhaps at this moment you are thinking of buying someone flowers or chocolate (yes please!) or thinking of making a delightful meal. May I gently suggest a variation on that theme and direct your thoughts to one who would want to be your valentine fur-ever. Yup, our four legged friends. So here are some suggestions to show and give love to these creatures who give out this emotion constantly and unconditionally.

No 1. Time. As with anyone in your life, your presence is a present, and it means that much more to a canine or feline who depends on you for their care. For both species, exercise is such a happy stimulant. A good walk with Bowser is great for your health and such a reward for him. Playing a good game of fetch or laser pointer is as much fun for our pets as it is for us humans to play hockey or board games. It gives all our brains much needed dopamine, the happy hormone.

No 2. Health. This includes many things from feeding a good diet, a fit weight, a healthy mouth, and addressing any age-related changes that may require some advice or help from a professional. A healthy pet will be more engaged and have an increased lifespan thereby having the bonus of living with you for many more years to come.

No 3. Treats. Speaking personally, I know I love yummy goodies and so does my cat Bee and my family dog Molly. However, I also know that treats can add up calorically and have to keep in mind that moderation is key. As well, some of our kitty and doggy friends have food allergies to certain meats and grains so we must keep that in mind. In the canine world, I must admit that dog trainers are right; liver is top dog as a treat, and some cats like it too. Benny Bully’s (freeze dried liver treats) have always been the preferred treat at the veterinary clinics I have worked at. They are Canadian, low calorie, one ingredient and absolutely delicious, so my doggy friends tell me when they drool on my hand. Some crafty people make their own liver treats by cooking beef liver and freezing it, or just dehydrating it altogether with a food dehydrator.

There are numerous other baked treat recipes one can make for both feline or canine as evident on a Google search. I have included a recipe at the end of this article that I tried and taste tested approved on Molly. Cats tend to be a little more finicky in their taste testing so be prepared to try a few recipes. The baked treats tend to have more calories than the liver treats due to the added grains in either flour or oatmeal. For the felines, I prefer to either offer canned food (less calories than dry baked treats), or simple cat grass or catnip. In the canned food department, most cats really like either chicken liver, turkey giblets or ocean whitefish pâtés. A friend who boarded cats could always count on Fancy Feast as a hit, and I must confess that she has been mostly right. For the gardeners in us, starting a pot of cat grass (which is either oat, barley or wheat grass) or a flat of catnip (Nepeta Cataria) is a great way to get some greens into our kitties who crave more harmful houseplants at this time of year. I grew some cat grass (super easy) for my cat Bee and coworkers’ cats and it was appreciated by all, including my family dog Molly!

No 4. Beauty…or a good groom. Who doesn’t love a good pamper or spa treatment? Although a lot of cats and dogs hate their nails being trimmed, they at least love a good brushing especially with a soft bristle brush or comb. For the pets with skin issues, a therapeutic shampoo bath can be instantly relieving to irritated skin. And for those with dry skin, a moisturizing mousse massaged in to their coat feels wonderful. Needless to say, the underlying theme is a gentle touch, or massage that our pets crave the most…especially if it’s given by one they love.

Are you fe-line the love? This February 14, remember all the creatures great and small in your life. Sure enough, there’s someone who woofs you and thinks you are purr-fect.

And to quote the singer Jackie DeShannon, “what the world needs now is love, sweet love.”

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone.

Sweet Dog Treats

1/4 cup vegetable oil (I

used safflower)

1/4 cup natural peanut

butter

1/2 cup honey

2 tablespoons water

1 egg

2 1/2 cups whole wheat

flour (I used a mix of

spelt and white flour)

1/2 cup oatmeal

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix the wet ingredients. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the wet mixture. Roll the dough out on floured surface about 1/4-inch thickness. Using fun shaped cookie cutters, cut out the dough. Bake on parchment papered baking sheet at 375°F for 10-12 minutes until golden and crisp. Human and canine approved!