Dog Treats - What you should know

In many cultures feeding people and pets is a sign of love and affection and as such, many dog owners lavish their dogs with an endless stream of treats and table scraps. All of these indulgences however do come at a high price and may result in dog weight issues and obesity.

Dog Treats

There are however some healthy alternatives that will still give your dog a special treat, but also keep him/her healthy and happy. Veterinarians, dog nutritionists and trainers all agree that treats do have a place in both training and a dog's diet, but it is up to you as the owner to make responsible, healthy choices for your dog.

That said, they do caution that commercial dog treats are loaded with fat and sugar, making them irresistible to your dog, but also very high in calories. Even a single one of these calorie rich treats like packaged bacon, cheese snacks or beef can fulfill one fifth to a quarter of a small dog's total calorie requirements for a day and we all know that we never just feed a single treat! So it's a fast track to obesity if you're not careful.

So what should you be looking for in a dog treat? According to leading dog nutritionists, treats should not take up more that 15 to 20 percent of your dog's total diet, whether they are comprised of commercial dog treats or human foods. Also, read the labels and opt for low fat, low calorie choices like dried chicken strips.

Alternatively, you may be interested in offering homemade or organic dog treats. For this veterinarian Ernie Ward recommends crunchy vegetables like green beans, celery or cooked sweet potato. He does however caution to avoid certain foods that are toxic to dogs like garlic, onions, raisins and grapes. He also recommends freezing small chunks of fruit like watermelon, kiwi or apple into ice cubes in summertime, as they are a refreshing treat for dogs when it heats up. You can also experiment with making various types of fruit smoothies for your dog.

Chicken hot dogs or tofu hot dogs manufactured for human consumption can also be cut up into pieces and given as treats.

Whatever you choose to treat your dog with, always be mindful of the nutritional value and how it fits in to your dog's overall calorie intake for the day.