If someone told me that dogs of all ages in my house would go nuts for chunks of frozen broccoli as a treat, I would never have believed them! But I’ve made the wonderful discovery that I have three dogs crowding around me eagerly when I slide open the freezer compartment and reach in for frozen broccoli “cuts” or “florets.”
Handfuls of frozen broccoli have become my 80 lb. blue Weimaraner Maisie’s evening snack – they are nutritious, high fiber, vitamin-filled, inexpensive and incredibly satisfying to her. What has amazed me is that Wanda, my six-month-old Weimaraner, and Jazzy, my 12-year-old Collie-mix, each wait eagerly alongside Maisie for their own big scoop of the frozen broccoli. You’d think it was filet mignon!
It all started when my beautiful rescued Weimaraner Maisie was turning two a few months ago: she is a really big tall dog and her weight was creeping up on the vet’s scale. I had been taking her for weekly weigh-ins because I knew that a dog’s weight at two years old is usually considered her optimal or natural weight.
I knew this from Dr. Donna Spector – Halo’s Veterinary Advisor and my co-host on the Radio Pet Lady Network show “The Expert Vet” – because we’ve been running the Halo Healthy Weight Challenge on our show, where Dr. Donna is looking to help people return their dogs to their weight at two years old. Maisie was naturally an always-hungry, high-energy dog, but even with constant exercise she was packing on the pounds, along with some impressive musculature as she approached her second birthday.
When Dr. Donna guides our Halo Healthy Weight Challenge participants in keeping an eye on the calorie content of treats they are feeding she always recommends steamed or raw string beans as a low-cal filling snack – along with her determination of how much to feed of Halo’s Healthy Weight dry food and Spot’s Stew in a can (which they receive three months of for free).
But none of my dogs will touch a string bean – unless it’s fully boiled along with other vegetables and chicken to accompany their daily Halo kibble. One day I was getting out a bag of frozen broccoli cuts for their cooked vegetable stew and dropped it on the floor. To my amazement, all three dogs made a dash for it and could not have been happier gobbling down the frosty chunks!
Afterward, I expected some pretty nasty “air pollution” from taking in all that cruciferous vegetable matter, which is known to cause intestinal gas in people and dogs. However, there were no unwanted side effects! Dr. Donna told me their odorless digestion was fortunate and unusual, since broccoli can cause some intestinal “blow back” in many dogs, which is why she recommends using steamed string beans or zucchini as treats during the Halo Healthy Weight Challenge.
I will say that where training treats are concerned- to reward a sit at the door, or a fast recall when the dogs are out loose, I would never think of offering a frozen hunk of broccoli! Instead, I make sure they get a “just reward” for their obedience so I keep Halo Liv-a-Little freeze-dried meats in my goody bag, which are also low-cal being pure protein. I’m thrilled they enjoy the frozen broccoli so much (they will not touch it raw or lightly cooked) but I also know that to get good training results you need to have a treat that is up to the job, and that would be Liv-a-Littles.
Tracie Hotchner is the author of THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know.
She is also a renowned pet radio host and producer, having spent 7 years on the Martha Stewart Channel of Sirius/XM with CAT CHAT® and even longer with her award-winning NPR radio show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) that continues to broadcast in the Hamptons and the Berkshires. Her most recent accomplishment is the pet talk radio network she has created on the Internet called The Radio Pet Lady Network.