There’s no better feeling than seeing the look on your best buddy’s face when you offer up some of their favorite tasty treats. What’s more, treats add variety to your dog’s diet and can serve as a great motivator when training. However, it’s important to keep in mind that many treats are calorie-dense and that overtreating can lead to unwanted weight gain.
With over half of dogs in the U.S. classifying as obese, it’s important that owners take responsibility for their furry friend’s diet and help their pooch to maintain a healthy weight. Here, we discuss how often it’s okay to give your dog treats, and what ingredients to look for in a brand.
When Should I Give My Pup Treats?
According to most vets, treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s diet. Most food bags have a caloric guide that tells you how much to feed your pup by weight, and you can use this to figure out a safe daily treat count. If you want to treat your dog more frequently, you can give them smaller amounts at a time or switch to a low-calorie variety.
You don’t necessarily have to reserve treats as rewards during training. You can set up a treating routine throughout the day to keep track of calories while also reinforcing a household schedule. Giving your dog treats before or after mealtime, for example, can help train them not to beg for scraps from your table, while treating before bedtime can help to get your pup in their crate without any trouble.
What Should I Look for in a Treat?
When you go to the pet store, the sheer number of different treats to choose from can be overwhelming. When selecting a brand, it’s a good idea to look for those that list all-natural ingredients. You should also opt for treats that contain meat as the main ingredient as opposed to corn or wheat gluten. These will be healthier for your pup and tend to have fewer calories than the alternative.
You don’t necessarily have to buy treats from a store to thrill your pooch. Many dogs are just as happy with food straight out of the fridge. Fresh green beans, sliced apple, and baby carrots are all healthy favorites of many dogs. You can also feed your dog cooked meats, though be careful to remove any bones ahead of time. Always check with your vet before feeding your dog anything from your table, however, as not all foods are safe.
Giving out treats can be just as fun for us as it is for our four-legged friends, but it’s important to keep everything in moderation. It can be all too easy to overfeed a pair of puppy-dog eyes, and so you should reserve treats primarily for reinforcement purposes. Always look for treats that are healthy for your pooch and low in calories.
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