|(ARA) - When people need pampering, they’ve long retreated to their favorite spas, treated themselves to special gifts and savored their favorite foods. With increasing frequency, more and more pets are enjoying the same kinds of tender loving care. In a recent survey by the American Animal Hospital Association, a majority of pet owners said they had cooked special meals for their pets, given them holiday and birthday gifts, and played special music for their animals.
According to the survey, 93 percent of pet owners said they felt that love and attention contributed more to their pets’ quality of life than anything else.
“As a longtime pet owner, I know what an important part of the family pets can be,” says lifestyle expert Sandra Lee and creator of the Semi-Homemade(R) philosophy. “People do more for their pets sometimes than they do for themselves, and they’re always looking for new ways to shower their pets with affection.”
By combining affordable items available at stores like Wal-Mart with personal creativity -- the foundation of Lee’s Semi-Homemade(R) philosophy -- pet owners can indulge their pets with flair. Sandra Lee offers the following tips for dog, cat, and bird lovers:
* All dogs love to eat. Cook a special meal to celebrate your pet’s birthday, to celebrate a special holiday, or to soothe nerves after a harried trip to the vet. Homemade snacks such as Bone-nanza Bones (see recipe below) will leave your pet feeling perfectly appreciated.
* Dog parks are all the rage these days, but it’s always risky to introduce pets that aren’t familiar with one another. Instead, consider coordinating a dog party among friends and neighbors in the backyard or a local park. Pets can interact while owners mingle. Doggie treats made from scratch or selections such as a Dentabone or jerkey strips can be the party favors for pooches.
* Cats love to groom. To help kittens maintain their claws (and save furniture), make a personalized scratcher. Cut 45 to 50 strips of corrugated cardboard so that they fit snugly into the lid of a shoe box. Attach double-sided tape to the inside of the lid, then pack the strips vertically and tightly into the lid. Press down lightly to adhere the strips to the tape. Finish by sprinkling the top with dried catnip. Or visit your local discount retailer for a variety of feline-loving toys and treats.
* Parakeet owners can make an edible ladder that is both nutritious and fun. The ladder can be made using Popsicle sticks tied together with lengths of cotton twine. Coat the ladder with parakeet food by using a pastry brush to cover sticks with egg whites that will hold sprinkled birdseed in place. The ladder should be baked for five minutes and cooled for two. This process should be repeated until all surfaces are covered and seed coating is thick. It should be allowed to cool completely before being placed in the cage, approximately 30 minutes.
* For those who are not pet owners but love nature’s little creatures, treat them to a “Critter Granola” that will appeal to a variety of outdoor animals from bunnies to birds. Simply combine 2 cups each of popped popcorn, spoon-size shredded wheat cereal, sunflower seeds, rabbit pellets, and wild bird seed. Place in an outside-appropriate container.
Sandra Lee shops Wal-Mart stores for the materials referenced above and the ingredients listed below.
Bone-anza Bones* (Makes 10-12 dog bones)
1 jar (6-ounce) turkey and rice baby food
1/4 cup prepared savory beef gravy
1/4 cup water
2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 egg white
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon whole milk (optional egg wash)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper. Mix all ingredients (expect egg wash) together in a large mixing bowl until a dough forms. Place dough on a floured work surface. Roll out dough to 1/2 inch thick. Using a bone-shaped cookie cutter, cut out 10-12 bones. Transfer bones to prepared cookie sheet. Brush bones with egg wash (optional). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely.
Storage and Leftovers: Store in a resealable bag in the refrigerator for up to five days.
For more information, visit Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade(R) Web Magazine at www.semi-homemade.com.
Courtesy of ARA Content
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