A dab of ice cream on a hot summer day isn't going to hurt your pet much, but a steady diet of it isn't a good idea.
My dogs love ordinary ice cubes as a summer treat, but they're even more fond of the "petsicles" I make every summer. They're easy to make: Just pour beef or chicken broth into ice-cube trays and freeze. I use salt-free broth with as little fat as possible.
Cats are usually harder to please, but they may enjoy the same treats if made from clam or fish broth.
No matter what goes into the treat, make sure the pets eat them outside, since the melting broth can make a real mess. And remember that whether you offer your pets plain ice or frozen broth, these cool treats are no substitute for a constant supply of fresh, cool water, which is never more important than at this time of year.
Q: Is cat food OK for dogs? Our little dog likes our cat's food so much we're thinking about buying cat food for the two of them and just keeping the dishes filled. It would certainly be easier.
A: Cat food is a dreadful diet for dogs, so please put your plan -- and the cat's dish -- on a shelf.
Many dogs adore cat food, which is very high in protein to accommodate the different nutritional requirements of cats. Cats need meat, and lots of it, while dogs can make do on a diet with lots of carbohydrates. (That's one reason why dogs can live on a carefully balanced vegetarian diet, but it's generally not recommended for cats.)
The high protein level is great for cats, but the long-term use of such a diet will eventually hurt your dog.
Ask your veterinarian to recommend a high-quality kibble, and offer your dog nothing but. Don't be surprised if she turns up her nose and refuses to eat.
Cut out other sources of food -- including people food and treats -- and force her to focus attention on the kibble.
If she is already used to a regular diet of cat food, you may need to start with a mix of three-quarters cat food to one-quarter dog kibble, and then gradually reduce the amount of cat food in the mix until she's eating what she should.
Q: Will my husband's smoking affect the health of our pets? I'd like him to quit, and the more reasons the better.
A: If his own health isn't reason enough, I can't imagine the risk for your pets will add much strength to your side.
But there is a little bit of evidence that second-hand smoke is dangerous to dogs: A 1989 study at Colorado State University says dogs whose owners smoke have a 50 percent greater risk of getting lung cancer.
The conclusions were drawn from an analysis of 51 cases of lung cancer -- which is rare in dogs -- pulled from the files of the veterinary teaching hospitals at CSU and the University of Illinois.
The researchers say the cases demonstrated a strong correlation between exposure to second-hand smoke and canine lung cancer -- 24 of the 51 dogs, or 47 percent, had owners who smoked, compared to 37 percent of a control group of dogs with other forms of cancer.
While the study is not very broad, it seems to suggest that smoke is a problem for pets, too.
Ms. Spadafori is a licensed pet trainer in Sacramento, Calif. Questions about pets may be sent to her c/o At Home, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.