Responsible Treat Giving For A Healthy & Happy Dog - All About Dogs

Responsible Treat Giving For A Healthy & Happy Dog

Responsible Treat Giving For A Healthy & Happy Dog

America’s dogs are either overweight or obese, according to the latest Association for Pet Obesity Prevention survey. Obesity in dogs is a worrying problem and can lead to multiple health concerns, including arthritis, hypertension, respiratory conditions, and kidney disease. It’s, therefore, crucial that dog owners are responsible with the treats they feed their pet pooches as many of these tasty snacks are packed full of calories, fat, and sugar which are putting the health of dogs up and down the country at risk.

How much is too much?

Veterinarians advise that dog treats should take up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily food intake. Of course, every dog requires a different amount of calories on a daily basis, based on their breed, size, and physical activity levels. But, in general, to maintain their weight, the average dog needs between 25 and 30 calories per pound of their body weight every single day. If you’re feeding packaged treats, the calorie content will usually be displayed on the packet. However, if you’re awarding human foods, such as chicken, cheese, carrot, and scraps from the dinner table, you’ll need to do a bit of research and calculate the calories yourself.

Award treats for a reason

Do you give treats to your pooch just because he looks at you with his sad puppy dog eyes or because you think he needs a pick me up? If you are, you’re not alone as every dog owner is guilty of caving in to their hound once in a while. But, have you ever wondered whether your dog could be playing you? Research from the University of Zürich shows that your pooch could be doing just that as their study revealed that dogs are smart enough to trick their owners into giving them treats. To avoid letting your hound rule the roost and potentially becoming overweight or obese, only give him treats when he does something good. Mastering a new trick, sitting and waiting before crossing the road, and fetching your slippers all warrant a treat, whereas, looking down in the dumps doesn’t.

Offer nutritious treats

Many off-the-shelf dog treats offer very little nutritional goodness to a dog. You’ll often find that they’re made up of little more than animal derivatives, cereals, grains, and sugar. Not only are these ingredients calorific, but there are very few vitamins and minerals in them. Thankfully, by offering tasty dog-friendly fruit and vegetables to your hound, you can rest assured that the treats you’re feeding your dog are good for him and his health.

Carrots are a great low-calorie treat for pooches, and as a baby carrot contains just 4 calories, there’s no need to worry about them causing your dog to pile on the pounds. Other low-calorie veggies which you can feed your dog, include sweet potato, broccoli, asparagus, pumpkin, and cauliflower. Fruit is another lip-smacking healthy reward that your dog is sure to devour. Banana, apples, cucumber, blueberries, watermelon, mango, strawberries, and pear are all dog-friendly. However, you should avoid offering too many fruits on a daily basis due to the high amount of natural sugars that they contain. Similarly, always check that the fruit and vegetables that you’re offering your pet are dog-safe. Onions, grapes, raisins, and avocados aren’t deemed safe for dog consumption and should be avoided at all costs.

Offer alternative non-food treats

Dog treats have long been associated with rewarding a dog for doing well or for showing your pet how much you love them. However, there’s no rule which states the treat you offer your pooch has to be edible. In fact, one of the best treats you can give your dog is a new toy. As dog toys come in so many shapes and sizes and each one offers something new, your dog will get far more enjoyment out a squeaky duck, new ball, or rope toy. What’s more, toys stimulate a dog’s brain and encourages active play, meaning your pet is more likely to stay a healthy weight. With that in mind, be sure to have a selection of new dog toys to offer to your pet the next time you want to reward your four-legged friend.

Training & Treats

Most owners turn to treats when they’re training their dog to sit, stay, roll over, and to fetch. And while treats are useful in training situations and are highly encouraged by many dog trainers, research suggests you don’t need to give treats every time your dog impresses you. S.E Smith’s  ‘Some Dogs Prefer Praise to Treats’ essay highlights how the same areas of the brain are stimulated when treats and praise and offered to a dog. Similar studies have also reported the same findings. As such, you can cut your pooch’s treat consumption and lower his risk of obesity by alternating between treats and praise every time Fido masters a new move.

Do-it-yourself treats

In 2017, American dog owners spent a whopping $29.07 billion on prepackaged dog food and dog treats, according to statistics from PR Newswire. Other than their high-calorie content, the major concerns associated with shop-bought processed doggy treats are the flavorings or preservatives which go into them, such as iron oxide which is known to irritate the eyes and the skin, and potassium sorbate, a respiratory irritant. Thankfully, it’s easy to make delicious and satisfying treats at home that your dog will love. And, best of all, you’ll know exactly what’s in them. Xylitol-free peanut butter and no added sugar natural yogurt can be combined together to make cookie-like treats. Whereas, you can make your own jerky strips with some chicken, and olive oil.

The nation’s dogs are gorging on too many treats and this is putting their waistlines and their health at risk. As a dog owner, you should carefully monitor your dog’s weight and what he eats. Additionally, making changes to your pooch’s choice of treats is also a surefire way to keep him trim and healthy.

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About the Author: Karoline Gore