Who doesn't like a tasty snack every now and then? Especially when those treats are used to bond or as a reward for good behaviour, it makes it all the more exciting! Whilst we enjoy spoiling our dogs with treats, it's important to know how to choose the right dog treat and, above all, how much is too much?
More often than not, we aren't conscious of how many treats our dogs are eating every day, whether it is an extra piece of chicken off the table or a handful of biscuits for being a good boy/girl. According to Dr JoAnn Morrison, a senior veterinarian at Banfield Animal Hospital, our dogs consume more than the necessary amount of daily calories every day - and most of it comes from human food (fed as snacks) and treats themselves. Like how we are starting to look for healthier options when it comes to food, it's time we do so for our dogs too. Besides, who said healthy treats can't be tasty?
Without a doubt, treats do make up your dog's daily diet, however, they constitute only 10% of their daily calorific intake. In order to determine the 10%, it is important to know how many calories are present in one treat or in every 100 grams. By reading the back of the label before buying a treat, you can determine how many treats your dog requires per day. Moreover, it is important to note that this 10% is inclusive of all the table scraps and irresistible urges to give in to puppy eyes and good behaviour. When purchasing dog treats, remember to always read the label to help give you an understanding of how many calories every 100 grams contain - this way, you can determine the exact quantity your dog requires every day.
Avoid high-calorie treats
We often realise the price of high-calorie dog treats only when our dogs are on the verge of obesity. However, simply avoiding high-calorie treats by not adding them to your dog's diet can help prevent an endless list of obesity-related problems as your dog ages. That said, it is best to choose treats with fewer calories or ones that are healthier, i.e. contain real ingredients with no added preservatives or artificial flavours. In addition to this, you can also choose to break a large treat into small pieces and fed it throughout the day, or as and when they are behaving well or are pleading till you feel guilty This way, the amount of calories they consume stay intact and you don't feel upset for not giving in!
Avoid treats with little to no nutritional value
Whether we like it or not, treats with little nutritional value only benefit the tastebuds with no added value to your dog's body. The best dog treats are the ones with irresistible flavour and power-packed nutrition. In other words, all the taste and none of the guilt! When buying dog treats, look for wholesome ingredients, no added preservatives, and no artificial fillers or flavours. In addition to this, you can also choose ones that contain high protein, high fibre, zero grain, healthy fats and so on.
Avoid table scraps & free feeding
Unintentionally, we do slip pieces of our food into those drooling mouths under the table simply because we feel sad or guilty. However, according to Dr Morrison, table scraps do more harm than good - primarily because it is food that dogs aren't supposed to consume, i.e. human food and secondly, we often don't realise how much we end up feeding them or how many calories are present in what we're feeding them. This over time can lead to obesity and obesity-related problems.
It is always recommended to have treats in variety, i.e. different smells, tastes, textures etc. This way, the value of each type of treat is upheld and your dog doesn't get bored of the same taste. Before choosing the best dog treats, it is important to follow these 2 tips -
Step 1 - Read the label
Before looking at the flavour, read the label. More often than not, the flavour is artificial and not made from real, wholesome ingredients. Look for words such as 'real', 'natural', 'organic', ‘regionally sourced’, ‘fresh’, 'no artificial flavours’, and 'no added preservatives’. These indicate the quality of the dog treats you're purchasing. In addition to this, labels also inform you about the number of calories, feeding recommendations, and when to use the treat, i.e. as a topper, snack, or for training, thereby helping you understand the purpose of the treat and the estimated quantity for the same.
Step 2 - Look for the purpose
Treats that are used as toppers are primarily for flavour enhancement and increasing appetite. The best dog treats for toppers include, but aren't limited to, jerkies, strips, and biscuits. Toppers usually constitute 2.5% of the daily treat intake for dogs.
The best dog treats for training are most often cookies or biscuits since they are easy to feed, aren't messy, and do not take time to chew. Training treats should be bite-sized and low in calories because of the number of times they are being given.
Ah, the most important role of treats - snacktime! The best dog treats for snacktime are entirely dependent on what your dog prefers, however, you want to ensure that these treats aren't fed directly from your hand but through a mentally stimulating mode, i.e. licky mats, snuffle kebabs, KONGs, puzzle toys and so on. You may also choose to give your dogs chew bars to help keep their mind engaged for a long time. Snacktime treats are always valued when they are fed in exciting and challenging ways rather than hand-to-mouth which involves no mental stimulation, increased begging, and unlimited snacking.
Dental treats are used to clean tartar, prevent its build-up, and freshen your dog's breath. The best dog treats for this purpose are ones that are easily digestible, highly palatable, and contain no artificial preservatives/fillers/flavours. Dental treats are uniquely shaped to serve their purpose and come in a variety of flavours for every age, breed, and size.
Now that you are aware of what to look for when shopping for the best dog treats, you will find yourself with much happier & healthier pooch!