“ Brand: Kool Dogz / Type: Dog Toys - Frozen ice treat making kit „
Here in Essex, with the glorious sunshine beating down and temperatures set to apparently rival those in Turkey and Greece today and tomorrow, there's no denying we've got the makings of a perfect bank holiday weekend! It's the perfect weather for barbeques, beer gardens, paddling pools and beach visits- but if you own a dog, it's also the perfect weather for deadly heatstroke. Many people will say I worry too much about my dogs, after all there are dogs that live happily in hot countries all year round, but I personally think this isn't a fair comparison- we get so few really hot sunny days in England therefore dogs just aren't used to it and in my experience, it can hit them like a tonne of bricks. This is especially true for my Benson- he is a Bernese Mountain Dog, a breed that originates from the mountains of Switzerland and has an incredibly thick, dense coat for keeping them warm in the sub zero snowy Swiss mountains. If you're not familiar with the breed, punch it into google and you'll find plenty of pictures, and instantly appreciate how miserable the hot weather can make them! Keeping dogs happy and healthy in the hot weather isn't hard, it just takes a bit of common sense- walking them in the early morning and late evening, keeping them inside or in the shade during the hottest parts of the day, and providing them with lots of fresh water and adequate means of keeping cool. On hot sunny days like today, the best place to be, in my opinion, is in the garden! A pair of sunnies, a nice reclining chair, an ice cream in one hand and a glass (or jug!) of Pimms in the other- bliss! For the most part, the dogs are happy enough to chill out in the shade, we've got plenty of trees in the garden and they're usually sensible enough to take shelter under these and snooze most of the day away- note I use the word ''usually''! Those familiar with Benson, and my other mutt Grace, will know they're hardly the brightest crayons in the box. They do have brains in there somewhere, but it's very seldom they get used, and whilst they may have enough sense to spend some portion of the day in the shade, there are times when they think it's a good idea to charge around the garden in the full sun in the heat of the day, or lay ''sunbathing'' whilst panting like mad dogs the entire time. So I like any good 'parent' I have an army of different toys and activities that can be used in the shade, to encourage my babies to play somewhere safe! Todays choice is the Kool Dogz Ice Treat Maker. The simple yet absolutely genius idea has been a firm favourite with us since I purchased it last year, priced at £25 from Canine Concepts. The set simply consists of a large re-usable bucket in which you fill with water and selection of treats or toys and then freeze. Once frozen the idea is to take the frozen ice block from the bucket and secure on the included stand, and set out in the garden to provide a giant ice lolly for your dog! I brought the set at the beginning of summer last year, and it has been invaluable to us on hot days since. The whole thing is completely idiot proof- you just take the large plastic bucket, secure the metal centre pole (with the bone shaped cap) into the allocated spot, fill it with water and then toss in anything your dog likes- chews, balls, treats, toys etc, and pop in the freezer until completely frozen. It generally takes about 6 hours to completely freeze, so I always tried to remember to do it overnight in hot weather, so it was ready for the morning of the next day, and it'll fit in the drawer of most standard sized freezers. Once frozen, the ice block slides easily from the bucket and all you need to do is attach the ice block to the deep reservoir base by inserting the metal centre pole into the hole in the base and then using the pitch fork to secure the piece of kit into the ground. The idea is that your dog will then spend ages licking and chewing away at the ice in order to melt and grind away at it until they can retrieve the toys or treat from the ice- thus keeping them cool, stimulated and constantly taking in water, which is essential on a hot summers day. My two, to put it simply, absolutely adore the thing. They go absolutely barmy when they see me setting it up and they love playing with it- they'll chew and lick at the ice endlessly until they get a treat or toy, then they'll go play with that and come back again and again until all the items are released from the ice. I set it up in the shade under one of the trees in the garden so it keeps them playing in the shade and also the shade helps prevent the ice melting too quickly, so they get a decent 3 or 4 hours, if not more, of playtime with it. The sky is really the limit in regards to what goodies you put in the ice block. Sometimes I'll use a selection of their toys- making sure I put some that don't float in too, so they sink to the bottom of the bucket and remain there when frozen, other times I'll use a mixture of toys and treats, and other times I'll use just treats- biscuits and what have you do obviously go a little soggy in the water but harden up again once frozen and the dogs really couldn't care less! Commercial chews like the Pedigree dentastix, jumbones and rodeo chews (some chopped up and some left whole) are perfect since they retain their texture and consistency after being in the water, and freeze absolutely rock solid therefore giving the dogs a bit of a challenge when they try and eat them after getting them out of the ice. I'll also make them with chopped fruit and vegetables, which they adore and there is nothing stopping you flavouring the water either- the majority of the time I admittedly do just use plain water as my dogs aren't fussed, but as a treat sometimes I'll mix a few gravy granules in or crumble a stock cube to give the water some flavour, or as an extra special treat- a dollop of yoghurt or a dash of fruit juice goes down a storm (although do take into to consideration sweet things will encourage bees and wasps during summer!). My dogs are happy to share the treats and toys they find in the ice block, but please remember if you have a 2 or more dogs that aren't so keen on sharing their goodies, then you may well need multiple sets! All in all, I can't recommend the Kool Dogz ice treat maker enough- it's such a simple idea but brings hours of enjoyment to my dogs, and helps ensure they stay cool and well hydrated in the hot weather. The stainless steel construction of the set makes it sturdy, robust and rust resistant and withstands plenty of batterings when my dogs are eager to get at their goodies. The reservoir base is deep enough to catch any drips from the ice, thus preventing the grass around the set going muddy, and the pitch forked stake that secures the set into the ground efficiently holds it upright and doesn't wobble or fall in the slightest. As I speak (well, type!) the dogs are out in the garden playing with their Kool Dogz set, which is filled with gravy flavoured water, two tennis balls, a Kong toy and a handful of different treats... and I'm going to go out and join them... with that jug of Pimms I mentioned earlier!