As the dog’s role as a family member has grown, so has the need to treat them special. Dog treats are one of the fastest growing pet industries. We want to show these furry family members that their unconditional loyalty and love is appreciated. But what are the best treats to give dogs?
Low Calorie Treats
Most dog owners know exactly how much food they feed their dog. The number of daily treats is seldom known and vastly underreported. There is little doubt that “treating” our dogs is contributing significantly to the dog overweight and obesity problem that plagues almost 60% of pets.
Treat makers are not required to disclose the calorie content of their treats on the packaging. Owners are seldom inclined to research the products on the internet to find the calorie content. Owners also assume that calorie content is roughly the same across the treat universe and represents only a small fraction of daily calories. This is not the case.
Dental chew treats generally contain the largest number of calories. One brand of chew treats offered by a leading dog food company has treats that vary from 277 for small dog treats to700 calories for larger dog treats. Each treat is over half or equal to the dogs total daily calorie requirement!
Another company features a dog treat that contains 1060 calories for dogs over 55lbs. A 55lb. dog needs only 1000 calories for the entire day. And most dogs get multiple treats per day plus their regular food. It is not hard to understand why treats are making our dogs are so heavy.
The lowest calorie treats are the best because everybody has a tendency to “treat” too much. There are commercial treats available that contain less than 1 calorie per treat. Research first, then shop, online or in-store. Do not rely on advertisements or store help for accurate information.
Don’t Forget Fruits and Vegetables
Raw vegetables have the lowest calorie count, zero. It takes as many calories to digest them as they contain. Baby carrots, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower, peppers and squash are examples. Cooked vegetables are more digestible and contain slightly more calories. But an entire can of green beans contains only 50 calories and contains enough treats for a week or more.
Fruits contain fructose and more calories but still make good treats. They just need to be used in moderation. Try not to exceed ¼ to 1/3 cup daily. Fresh melon, berries, bananas, apples, pears and peaches are possibilities. Avoid grapes and raisins as they are toxic in dogs.
Many dog owners consider fruits and vegetables as “low value” treats because they are not as tasty as many commercial treats and dogs won’t always eat them. Dogs are not seeking treats to satisfy their appetite. They are seeking your attention. There is no need for guilt over quality of the treat. Your dog wants you. We have programmed them for the treat.
~Dr Ken Tudor
The Dog Dietitian
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