By Suzanne Denk, Animal Enrichment Specialist
The arrival of fall brings cooler weather, comfort foods and (of course!) the desire to cuddle with our pets. Comfort foods aren’t just for people, though. Our pets can enjoy the tastes of fall with snacks and treats that introduce them to new experiences that enrich their days. Creating unique enrichment activities in the form of food stimulates our pets’ minds and engages their senses.
Catnip Ice Cubes
Most cats have an inherited gene that allows them to enjoy catnip. Catnip ice cubes can create scent, texture and play enrichment opportunities for your cat.
• Place fresh catnip leaves in a tea ball or strainer.
• Pour boiling water over the catnip and let it steep for 10 minutes.
• Cool the catnip tea and pour it into tiny ice cube trays.
• Once the ice is frozen, pop out a frozen cube for unique catnip fun!
Rabbits naturally forage, and like to tear paper. A pellet pierogi allows your rabbit to forage, tear and show their enthusiasm with this traditional Pittsburgh comfort food!
• Cut a six-inch circle from craft paper or the paper liner from a timothy pellet bag (which will be pellet-scented as an added bonus!).
• Fold the circle in half and put pellets, hay or herbs along the fold.
• Roll the edges of the paper to seal it and you’ll have a pellet pierogi enrichment item that will delight your bunny.
Pumpkins are a fall favorite for both people and dogs! And, a pumpkin-sicle is an easy treat to make for your pup. All you’ll need are a few simple ingredients:
• 15-ounce can of 100% pumpkin puree
• ½ cup peanut butter
• 1 cup plain yogurt
• Blend the pumpkin, peanut butter and yogurt until they’re smooth.
• Spoon the pumpkin blend into a mini muffin tin or ice cube tray.
• Place a mini Milk-Bone in the center of each “pumpkin” to be the “stem” and place it in the freezer until it is solid.
• Pop the treats out of the tray and serve them as a seasonal autumn treat!
Dogs also enjoy playing with pumpkins: they move, have a unique smell and texture and can be a messy (but delicious!) snack.
Click here for more enrichment activities that you can enjoy year-round with your four-legged family member!