If the idea of giving junk food to your dog appalls you, don’t read this. But I will say that my concoction of goopy stuff is healthier than the original.
I won’t make you read the history of the world before presenting the recipe. To save some of you from scrolling down, here’s my best substitute for canned spray cheese. But feel free to read the story of my experimentation. It will probably help with your own. Also, Cheez Whiz is a U.S. product; I have ideas for my friends in other countries at the end of the post.
Recipe for Canned Spray Cheese Substitute
- Mix Cheez Whiz, the commercial stuff that comes in a jar, approximately half and half with pure (unseasoned, unsweetened) canned pumpkin in a bowl. You can raise the proportion of pumpkin, but you will eventually lower the value of the treat. Your dog will tell you.
- Put it in a food tube (I use Coghlan’s).
- Keep it refrigerated when not in use.
- That’s it.
These proportions make it the right texture for a Coghlan food tube: not too thick, too runny, or too sticky.
High Value Treats
I have done a lot of counterconditioning over the years with my formerly feral dog, Clara. Her very very very favorite thing in the world is canned spray “cheese.” (The brand name is Kraft Easy Cheese.) I’ve always thought it was the thing that tamed her. Her attitude toward me, that first night she crept into the house, changed completely after I offered her some.
I haven’t used it for a couple of years, but we now have a situation where it would be super helpful, and it has become unavailable. Besides being very tasty, according to my dogs, it is very handy, because it doesn’t have to be refrigerated. You can keep a can around any “hot spots” where you might suddenly need a treat. I kept a can in the back yard, ready for untoward events. Now I can’t get the spray cheese, but we still have untoward events.
We have new neighbors on one side next door, and they have goldendoodles. Two big, tall, confident, sociable doodles, plus assorted other medium- to large-sized dogs who come and go. They are mostly doodles and retriever types.
Clara is not dog-aggressive, but she is a bit reactive and doesn’t handle change well. She has habituated well to the dogs on the other side of us (including the enormous, loud-but-sweet Dane mix). That took a lot of work by me, I might add, but she now pays them little heed other than a neutral wag or sniff now and then. But the doodle crowd is going to be tough because there are often four dogs in the yard, and it’s not even the same ones all the time.
So now I need some spray cheese. Since the pandemic (though I don’t know if it’s connected) it started getting hard to find. The brand name stuff first became unavailable, but I could get the cheap store brand. (The cheap cans lasted only about a third as long as the name brand, so weren’t cheap after all.) Then the store brand became unavailable as well. I don’t know if this is just in my area, or whether the product is being discontinued, but I suspect the latter since the mail-order price has shot up past what’s reasonable. I needed to start making something similar.
So this was a job for a food tube, a great way to dispense treats of this consistency to your dog. I already have a post about mixing ingredients to use in food tubes for dogs. There are tons of possibilities, but the density and texture have to be just right.
After gathering some ideas from some Facebook friends (thanks, folks!), I decided to start with a base of Cheez Whiz, the jarred “cheese” dip you can get in the States. U.S. people will know why I keep putting “cheese” in quotes. These products don’t have a ton of cheese in them. They comprise oil and milk solids with a little bit of cheese and a lot of artificial flavoring. Cheez Whiz is a thick liquid at room temperature, so I thought it could be a good start.
Experimental Recipe Results
Here are my three experiments to replace spray cheese, the last of which was a success.
1. Cheez Whiz with Added Milk or Water
I added a couple of teaspoons of milk to some Cheez Whiz, just enough to thin it a little, and mixed it up. Then I put it in a food tube. Even though adding some liquid helped, the mixture was way too viscous. It didn’t even drop down to the bottom of the tube; it clung to the sides. The stuff was usable if I wanted to take the time to work it toward the opening, but not handy. It was also hell to clean. You can see the picture below on the left. What a mess.
2. Cheez Whiz, Cream Cheese, and Milk
I knew from experience that cream cheese has a helpful consistency, so I tried the following:
- 2 ounces Cheez Whiz
- 1 ounce cream cheese
- 1 Tablespoon milk (1/2 ounce)
This worked pretty well. Most of it did slide down to the bottom of the tube when filling it, though it was still messy. Cleanup was a little easier. Clara liked it fine. That amount didn’t fill the tube, though. I’d raise the amounts a little while keeping the proportions constant.
Here’s a photo of those two experiments: the mostly pure Cheez Whiz on the left, and the mixture with cream cheese on the right. You can see that the one on the left even oozed out of the flap before I cleaned it up. Yuck! Adding the cream cheese made the whole thing less sticky and viscous. But the texture still wasn’t perfect, and it was very high calorie.
3. Cheez Whiz and Pumpkin Puree
This was the winner for me. The pumpkin is much lower calorie than the dairy products I was adding, and the texture mitigates the viscosity of the Cheez Whiz. And Clara liked it!
I used the following:
- 3 ounces pure canned pumpkin
- 2 ounces Cheez Whiz
That gave me almost a fill-up of the food tube.
See below for how much better it behaves in the tube. It was much easier to get in there, too.
Cheez Whiz is super high in sodium and artificial ingredients that are probably not great in large quantities. I use things like this because my dog defines high value, not me. And “cheesy” stuff like this is ultra-high for her. But I make an effort not to overdo it. She gets only a few licks (when she has it at all).
This concoction might not work at all for some dogs, since adult mammals are naturally lactose-intolerant. Response seems to vary among individual dogs.
I’m glad I worked out a way to dilute the Cheez Whiz. This improved the texture, lowered the calories and the milk content, and cut down the sodium. Oh yeah, and the pumpkin made the mixture cheaper. As I mentioned above, you can dilute the “Cheez” stuff with a higher ratio of pumpkin. In my experience, though, there will come a point where the value lowers, even for dogs who like pumpkin, as Clara does. Sure she does, but it doesn’t compare with a delectable mixture of whey, milk, canola oil, and artificial flavors…..
For My Friends Outside the United States
I took a little straw poll on social media and found out that some other countries have a rough equivalent of Cheez Whiz. It’s kind of the key to this recipe because you need a cheeselike substance that is a thick liquid at room temperature. If you want to try to make it from scratch, I’d take a soft spreading cheese like cream cheese or Neufchâtel or maybe even ricotta, add some very finely grated or crumbled stronger cheese, then dilute with enough milk or another liquid to get it to the right consistency.
Remember: I’m describing how to mimic an existing product in this post. But if you are just experimenting with food tubes and want to make something cheesy, it’s easy. My other food tube post has the proportions for a cream cheese and peanut butter mixture, for example.
It anyone plays around with Cheez Whiz (or anything else) in a food tube, tell me how it goes!
- The Secret to Filling a Food Tube
- Tricks for Frozen Dog Treats
- The Secret to Quick, Non-Crumbly Homemade Dog Treats
- No More Cutting: Making 500 Non-Crumbly Dog Treats From a Mold
- Flavors: Ideas for Ultra High Value Treats
Copyright 2020 Eileen Anderson