eileenanddogs

A Great Substitute for Canned Spray Cheese for Dog Treats

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

  1. 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.
  2. Put it in a food tube (I use Coghlan’s).
  3. Keep it refrigerated when not in use.
  4. 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.

New Dogs

What doodles? The power of yummy goop in a tube

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.

Food Tubes

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:

Mixing Cheez Whiz and pumpkin
  • 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.

Dietary Caution

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…..

The winner: Cheez Whiz and pumpkin!

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!

Related Posts

Copyright 2020 Eileen Anderson

13 thoughts on “A Great Substitute for Canned Spray Cheese for Dog Treats

  1. I’m in the UK. A couple of years ago I splashed out on a can of spray cheese through Amazon. £15! I found it difficult to use although it may have been a duff one.
    Primula cheese spread comes in tubes at much better price of £1.50. It does have to be kept in a fridge though. Last year there was a product recall on it so it wasn’t available for a few months. I used a thick, very cheesy bechamel sauce in a squeeze tube which was ok but I’m glad Primula is back in the shops now.

    1. Wow, what a shame about the can you paid so much for!
      When I asked around for liquid-ish cheese spread products outside the U.S., Primula was mentioned. It sounds like a better quality product than our canned cheese anyway!

      Eileen

  2. Nice post. I didn´t know it. How do you use it in the reactive dog? I have a young boxer too reactive with other dogs near my fence.
    I write to you from Spain 🙂

    1. Hello to you, Angeles Salcedo Garcia!

      Writing instructions for how to address this problem is beyond my capabilities since dogs are all so different. But I can tell you the basics.
      1. Make sure your boxer doesn’t get to practice the reactive behavior anymore. Don’t let them run along the fence barking or whatever they do. This takes a lot of work. What it meant for me was that I took Clara out on leash at first, every time she went out. I didn’t let her just stay in the yard unsupervised.
      2. The cheese is used by presenting it to the dog when (just after) she sees the other dogs. It’s classical conditioning. It’s beyond me to write instructions about it, but luckily there is a good website that covers this: CARE for Reactive Dogs. Study that website very carefully and you can learn a lot about how to help your reactive dog.

      Good luck!

      Eileen

  3. I used to use Primula, or the even cheaper UK supermarket equivalents. These days Poppy is on a special diet for liver failure, and needs something low fat but high protein. I use your silicon mat trick to make hundreds of tiny chicken treats – around 100g cooked chicken, 1 egg, 50g plain flour, whizzed with enough chicken stock or water to make a slightly runny batter. Spread into the holes with a table knife, bake in a moderate oven, then dry out in a low oven (I use a mat with round dimples so there are no hard pointy bits). Even the cats like these, and the dogs camp in front of the oven till they are ready. They are perfect for putting in my pocket for encouraging Poppy to keep walking, and for playing Find the Treat and other rainy day games.

    Medicines, of which there are all too many, are wrapped in chunks of chicken breast and much enjoyed. Four meals a day of canned hepatic food come with extra chicken. And of course if I am handing pieces of chicken to one animal the rest are not going to be missed out… Fortunately the company I have bought their food from for years does excellent quality frozen breasts at a good price!

    1. I’ve heard of Primula! And your treats sound great!

      Nice to hear from you, Frances. Give Poppy a (diet appropriate) treat!

      Eileen

  4. Great idea! Thank you. I am experiencing the same with new dog neighbors. Any tips appreciated or perhaps there is a past post on this subject?

    1. Hi Marianne,
      It’s a complicated subject and I haven’t written about it directly. Check out my response to Angeles above, and check out the Care for Reactive Dogs site for good instructions on this.

      New dog neighbors are hard! Good luck.

      Eileen

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