Dog Treats - Snacking in Healthy Moderation

11/07/2012

Dog Treats Healthy

It is no big secret that pet’s love treats and we, as owners, get a bit of satisfaction out of giving them what they love. With all the varieties of dog treats and snacks on the market today, and the popularity of dog bakeries, it becomes more of a task to decide on something that is actually good for your pet when fed to them on a regular basis.

Giving your furry friend too many treats or dog treats that are not especially nutritious introduces more calories into their diet and can be a big factor in a dog’s weight and health.   Some people see overweight dogs as just having “more to love” but in reality obesity in pets can cause a lot of health problems down the line and contribute to less years of life.

Here are a few tips to help you control your pet’s treat intake and insure that the snacks you are giving them are not harming them in the long run:

Pick dog treats that offer some form of health benefit
The pet product market is full of treat products that are not only healthier but also promote some sort of health benefit as well. Even though these products are probably better for your dog than most snacks it is also important to read the label to make sure that you do not give your pet too many on a daily basis. Some of the benefits these products can provide are improved digestive health, a boost to the immune system, and relief for muscles and joints. There are also products that help clean your pet’s teeth.

Separate “Treat Time” and “Meal Time” appropriately
Your pet gets the majority of their daily nutrition needs from their regular pet food. Filling their bellies up with a bunch of dog treats prior to their scheduled meal time can ruin their appetite and cause them to not eat the proper amount of pet food.  This can deprive them of essential vitamins and sufficient nutritional intake. It is best to try an allow a few hours between treats and full meals.

Look for a “natural” alternative
There are tons of dog treats on the market today that are made with all natural ingredients. Artificial ingredients and preservatives as well as added sugar can really take a toll on your dog’s system, especially if they are getting a constant flow of treats. You can also offer Fido some pet-safe fruits or vegetables in place of the meat-based dog treats that are often given.

Avoid rewarding “begging”
It can be very hard not to just hand you pet pal a treat when they whimper and whine for one. However, this instills the idea that when they beg they will get rewarded and if they are persistent enough with the begging it will work every time.  This can lead to an over-abundance of snacks and treats as well as bad behavior. Sometimes it may be easier just to give them what they want but it is very important to eliminate that behavior if possible through redirection.

Do a little calorie research
Just like with us humans, it is important to keep a tally of your pet’s calorie intake to see how much they are actually taking in. Most dog treats that you purchase at a pet or grocery store will have the calorie and nutritional information on the label. A good rule of thumb is that treats or snacks should not be more than 10% of your pet’s total daily calorie intake. You can find information online or via your veterinarian about how many calories are healthy for your specific size and weight of pet.  Some dog treats are extremely high in calories and just giving your pet a few throughout the day could set them way over the healthy daily limit.

Dog Treats HealthyOver-feeding your pet can be very detrimental to their overall health and lifespan and it is very important to keep this in mind when giving out treats throughout the day. They all love treats and we love to make them happy and form a bond with them by giving them a yummy snack from time to time. However, we must also be responsible on how and when we reward our pets and be educated on what we are giving them and the potential harm it can cause. If you offer your pet healthy dog treats at appropriate intervals it can be a very healthy and rewarding experience for the both of you.
Russ Barker is very fond of human treats but also realizes the importance of keeping an eye on a pet's health and the amount of dog treats they are given throughout the day. Russ is kind of a big deal at Dog Tag Art, a company whose primary goal is provideing pets with cool and customized pet ID tags. They provide one-of-a-kind custom dog tags that come in a huge variety of styles and the unique option to upload your original artwork or photos.
Russ Barker

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