Dogs are a constant source of comfort and companionship in this tough year of lockdowns; that said, we want to spoil them with as many treats as possible. So, you go online and find bones, jerkies, chews, biscuits......in this whirlwind of what to buy and what not; you find yourself feeling confused and frustrated, yes? Instead of tossing a treat or two to those irresistible puppy eyes, you might want to think about the types of treats you are feeding them, and more importantly, how much.
Here Are Ways to Pick The Right Treat For Your Dog!
Dr JoAnn Morrison, director of the Banfield Animal Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, suggests that as a universal rule, treats must make up only 10% of a dog's daily dietary intake. Some dog parents prefer to feed their dogs human food as a snack; however, this, according to Dr Morrison, can add up in calories and add extra kgs to a dog's weight - much faster than dog treats. In short, treats must never be table scraps.
Before You Learn How To Pick The Right Treat, A Word of Caution!
Some dog treats are higher in fat than others, and this can add to weight gain over time. It is easy for us to give in and lose track of how many treats we are feeding the drooling mouths and puppy eyes; however, it is best to feed them an amount depending on their activity level and the number of calories on the ingredients label. For example, a 9 kg Cocker Spaniel may burn only 600 to 700 calories a day; if one large jerky has 100 calories, more than two or three in a day can lead to weight gain. Treats must not be fed as a substitute for meals because most of the time, treats do not contain all the nutrients in adequate quantity to meet your dog's daily nutritional requirements.
It's Time To Pick The Right Treat For Your Doggo!
There is a treat for every occasion, and every treat is best given on that occasion. Remember to choose treats formulated for dogs and not for any other animal (including humans). You can also choose a healthier option by buying ones that offer added nutrients and dental benefits.
Best type – Bite-sized kibbles
Training treats are best if they are small, easily digestible, and bite-sized. After the perfect execution of a trick or command, just one or two treats should do. A mistake that dog parents find themselves repeatedly making is offering more than two treats after one round of obedience training. How do you think your pup's stomach may feel after five or six rounds of obedience training? Moreover, training treats that are low in calories are perfect for adult dogs and senior dogs. If you are using treats for obedience training and they already add up to 10% of your dogs' daily diet, it is best to not feed them any more treats during the day. You can also choose to have training sessions at different times in the day.
Special Occasion Treats
Best type – almost anything! Bones, Chews, Jerkies etc.
Special occasion treats are like cheat days, and must remain as cheat days. They can be large jerkies, Bones or Chews. Special occasion treats are usually used on birthdays, festivals, and holidays - but remember, not every day is your pup's birthday. Most special occasion treats are high in calories and fat, and since they are given only once in a way, they should not be much of a problem. Besides, when fed on a special occasion, the treat retains its value in the dog's eyes.
Best type – Treat that is labelled specifically for ‘oral health’
These are by far one of the most important yet neglected dog treats. Dental chews are crucial in helping dogs keep their teeth and gums clean - they are the best at-home oral care and a once-a-day yummy treat for your dog! Most dental chews also come packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
Puzzle Toy Treats
Best type – Pieces of Jerky or bite-sized kibble
For dogs that are prey-driven or food-motivated, treats in their interactive/puzzle toys are an excellent way to motivate them. That said, we must be aware of how much and what type of treats to stuff a puzzle toy with. Most often, dog parents tend to stuff the puzzle toy with a lot of treats and feed their dog his or her meal after - this adds to unnecessary weight gain because of all the extra calories. The best way to work with puzzle toys is to stuff them with the dog's actual meal. If your dog is on a dry food diet, stuff the puzzle toy with how much you feed him for that meal - this way, he can work his mind to get to the food. If your dog is on a wet food diet, you can choose to use interactive/puzzle toys that can hold wet food like KONGs.
Hip and Joint Treats
Best type – Treat that is labelled specifically for ‘joint health’
A common misconception when dog parents buy hip and joint treats are that they are only required when the dog has a problem with her bones. Most hip and joint treats can be started early in life to prevent orthopedic problems later on. They are enriched in calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and in some cases, chondroitin and glucosamine - all of which help to strengthen a dog's skeletal system. One of the best hip and joint treats comes in the form of bones.
Treasure Hunt Treats
Best type – Pieces of Jerky or bite-sized kibble
When playing treasure hunt, you can choose to hide pieces of a chewy or jerky instead of using a whole. That way, your dog isn't full after finding one treat and is still motivated to find the others.
With several choices out there, choosing the best treat is hard. So, stock up on treats for different occasions and use them wisely - don't let those puppy eyes get the better of you! Be sure to consult your veterinarian on the treats' ingredient label to rule out any potential allergens that might upset your dog's stomach.