Dogs are our babies, and they stay so forever. For paw parents, the question of spoiling them rotten is not even a question, and we’re always looking for newer, better, and tastier treats for them. Chewies, krispies, bones, and snacky bites. But the market is inundated with so much variety that it can get confusing.
So, how do you pick the right treat for your dog?
The first thing to remember is that treats are not food, and they should not make up more than 10% of your dog’s daily diet. Also, strictly avoid human food. Table scraps are not treats, and in fact, they can add extra weight on your dog pretty quickly since they are higher in calories. Stick to dog treats only.Before you select a treat, look at its fat content and your dog’s energy levels. If your dog burns fewer calories and you feed him treats that are higher in fat content, then you risk causing unwanted weight gain. Consider your dog’s activity levels while selecting treats, and always look at the number of calories on the label.Finally, before we head over to selecting the best treat for your dog, you must also consider what you’re using the treat for. Is it for training, or as a reward for good behavior, or is there an underlying health reason?
Let’s go treat picking!
Before you reach for the jar, ask yourself why you’re treating your fur baby. There is a treat for specific occasions, and you must give the treat ideally only on that occasion. Avoid human (or other animals) treats, and try to look for those that come with added nutrients and other health benefits.
The best type is bite-sized krispies which are small and easily digestible. When your dog does a trick just right or follows a command, you can hand over 1-2 treats. Don’t go overboard; imagine your pup’s stomach after gorging on several treats after many rounds of obedience training? A good way to handle this is also to have different training sessions at different times of the day. If your training treats already add up to 10% of your dog's daily diet, then avoid feeding him anymore.
Special occasion treats
Literally, anything will do here, and you can also lower your guard over the calorie and fat content here. These are special occasion treats, and as the name suggests, these are given only on special occasions, like birthdays, festivals, and holidays. Look for bones, chews, jerkies, etc. Give them once in a while, and your dog will also appreciate them all the more. Just like us, our dogs can have occasional cheat days, as long as they don’t become a norm.
Puzzle toy treats
If your dog is prey-driven or motivated by food, you can keep them engaged with treats. Pick up interactive toys or puzzles and watch them enjoy themselves. Of course, you must know what type of treats to stuff the toys with. A good way to approach this is to stuff the puzzle with the dog’s actual meal. That way you get two birds in one stone. If you choose to add treats separately, figure out the calories and make adjustments in the daily diet accordingly. But a word of caution: the treat has to be nutritionally filling and not just a substitute.
Treasure hunt treats
Use treats when playing with your dog. Pick up small pieces of Jerky or bite-sized Krispies for this activity. You can hide the pieces in your dog’s toys or around the house and watch them stay engrossed in it for hours. The good thing about using small pieces is that your dog doesn’t get full quickly and is motivated to keep looking for more.
Look for treats that are labeled for ‘oral health’. Many pet parents tend to ignore their pet’s oral hygiene. Since brushing teeth isn’t always an option, dental chews are excellent for keeping your dog’s teeth, gums, and overall oral hygiene on spot. Give them once a day, and keep oral issues at bay.
Hip and joint treats
You needn’t wait until your pup is getting on in age or starts to show joint issues before starting her on a special hip and joint treat. If you start early, you can help prevent orthopedic problems later on in life. Look for treats labeled ‘joint health’ as these come packed with essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and also chondroitin, and glucosamine. All these work hard to strengthen your dog's skeletal system. An easy and quick hip and joint treat is a meaty bone.ConclusionYes, there are many choices when it comes to getting treats for your dog. Pick up different kinds and feed them as per the right situation. Remember not to let those soulful puppy eyes pressure you into feeding more. Be consistent, and treat only sparingly so it doesn’t go beyond 10% of your dog’s daily dietary requirement. If you’re picking up a new treat, consult your vet so you can be sure the ingredients won’t upset your dog's stomach.