Treating your dog with treats is a fun activity, but one definitely to be managed. It's part of the bonding process to become best friends with you best friends, but treat-giving needs some forethought. For instance, are you using treats for training purposes, for their nutritional value or has it just become a habit. Whatever the reasons, here are some treat-able considerations to keep in mind when purchasing, distributing and in general — making some wise and healthy choices for your pooch.
You must know by now, your dog[s] love most treats, just like their owners do. But similarly to our own personal intake, treats come with calories, and if you're not cautious, you can be adding a substantial number to your dogs food regiment, unnecessarily.
“If you’re not careful, treats can add a substantial amount of calories to your dog’s otherwise normal, healthy diet,” says Tami Pierce, DVM, clinical veterinarian at the University of California, Davis.
Most veterinarians will tell you to manage your pup's diet properly, it is wise to follow the 10-percent rule. This means that treats and snacks should only make up 10-percent of a dog's daily intake. So when purchasing these packaged goodies, review the calorie allocations per treat and dispense accordingly.
Veggies & Fruit versus Packaged Treats
You might want to avoid the whole store-bought treat thing altogether -- particularly if you find them high in fat, sugar and preservatives. Instead, your dog[s] may be just as happy with vegetable and fruit snacks.
“Give them a baby carrot, a green bean, some broccoli,” Pierce says. “Those have virtually no calories, and dogs don’t care if you’re not giving them something meaty or fatty. They just want you to give them something.”
Dogs welcome all kinds of foods, within reason. So fruits can be a great treat option. Banana slices, berries, watermelon and apple slices, (with no seeds, of course).
However, be aware of the items to stay away from. Steer clear of grapes, raisins, onions, chocolate and anything with caffeine. These can be toxic to dogs.
Bone Treats should be easy on your Canine’s Canines
Skip anything that's hard, like hooves, antlers, or most bones in general. Yes, we all grew up tossing bones to our dogs. However, recent research indicates you have to learn which bones are good and which are poor choices. In fact, Pierce notes that many of “the new [bone] treats on the market are fracturing teeth.”
Picking some Bones with Bone Treats
Beyond these teeth issues, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning dog owners about store-bought "bone treats," saying they have led to multiple reports of pet illnesses and even death.
In a consumer update, the FDA said they have received nearly 70 reports of pet illnesses related to "bone treats." The illnesses reported by owners and veterinarians include:
- Gastrointestinal obstruction (blockage in the digestive tract)
- Cuts and wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Death. Approximately fifteen dogs reportedly died after eating a bone treat [according to these reports.]
Treat 'em Well!
At the end of the day, when in doubt which treats cut the mustard, always consult your veterinarian. They will provide you with the best advice for your particular dog based on his or her breed, age, size, physical condition and diet.
Additionally, there’s another way to look at treats. “Treats are things that bring joy [to you and your pets], they don’t have to be food,” says Tony Buffington, DVM, PhD, professor in the veterinary services at Ohio State University.
“If you want to provide your dog with a good treat, then take them for a walk or teach them a new trick,” he says. “Your dog [appreciates] your attention and time, far more than he or she wants a snack.”
So, when all is said and done, perhaps being the best friend to your best friend IS the best treat of all.
Primary Source: Treats for Dogs