Dogs reward us with their loyalty and boundless enthusiasm for life, so it’s only natural that we want to reward them occasionally too. Giving dogs a treat is certainly one way to do this, but it’s important that we don’t give them too many - over time this can lead to weight gain and health problems, and that’s definitely no reward.
Here are some useful tips on how to treat your dog, while also maintaining a balanced diet.
A key part of maintaining your dog’s balanced diet is to make sure you’re giving them treats that are good for them. There are many commercial dog treats that contain unhealthy additives, such as preservatives, artificial colours, and flavours, which can be harmful to your dog's health. You may even be tempted to treat your dog with table scraps or other human foods. Instead, opt for treats that are made from natural ingredients. You can even make your own dog treats at home using ingredients such as lean meat, fruits, and vegetables.
Just like with humans, overfeeding your pet with treats can lead to weight gain and other health problems. Treats should be given in moderation and should not account for more than 10% of their daily calorie intake. If you’ve been giving your dog more treats than usual, like when you’re training them for instance, keep those calories in mind when you’re dishing up their dinner. If in doubt, have a chat with your vet to work out how many calories your dog needs and how many treats they can have each day.
It’s also important to think about the size of the treat you’re giving your dog. Large treats can be high in calories and can be difficult for your dog to digest. It can be easy to forget that your dog is often much smaller than you, so what seems like a normal-sized treat to you can contain quite a few calories for them. That being said, treats don’t need to be microscopic either. Ideally, they should be small enough for your dog to chew easily, but still satisfying, and should be given in small quantities.
Treats are a good way to strengthen your bond with your pup. So why not use them to reward good behaviour in a training session, or while you’re out and about with them. Giving a treat to your dog after they’ve earned it will reinforce positive behaviour, cement your relationship and build trust between you. And if you’re being active together, it’ll help burn off the extra calories they’re taking in.
Every dog is an individual, and their dietary needs vary depending on their age, breed, and activity levels. For instance, if your dog is older, perhaps give them treats that are softer and easier to chew, or if they’re still a puppy, why not give them treats that promote healthy growth and development.
We hope these handy hints will help keep your pup happy, healthy and well fed.