Treating Treats Right

Giving your pup treats is an important part of good training and establishing a loving bond with your pet. The way to a dog’s heart is through their stomach! Over the festive season, we published a segment on human foods that aren’t a good idea as far as treating your pooch is concerned. Proper feeding habits are essential for keeping your dog happy and healthy, and it’s important to have good-quality treats.

There’s a big “but”, though. Treats are designed to taste special and be richer than normal food, and as a result, they often contain a lot of fat and energy. If you do go a little overboard with the treats (and let’s be honest, it’s so often a case of “but I just can’t say no to that face!”), it can lead to a whole lot of excess fat on your dog.

An ideal quantity of treats is, of course, dependent on the size of your dog. A larger breed needs more food than a smaller pup, as larger dogs do burn more energy (even though Jack Russell owners will find this hard to believe). To give you an idea, a simple slice of ham accounts for 6-8% of a small dog’s energy intake for a day. A more satisfying alternative is a quarter of a large banana, which is safe for dogs to eat, and it will keep them feeling full for longer, while providing the same amount of energy.

You might think it’s quite innocent, but a buttered piece of toast accounts for around 40% of the energy intake for a small dog, and 12% for a larger breed. The bread and fat in buttered toast will be converted straight into fat if your dog isn’t very active.

It’s so easy to forget that treats account for so much of your dog’s daily recommended energy intake. Because of this – and try and resist feeling heartbroken here – it’s necessary to scale back on how much breakfast or dinner your pup gets if they’ve been getting treats. If it’s a small, healthy treat, it won’t be such a disaster, but if you’re giving your dog a hamburger, you should reconsider that extra scoop of dog food at dinner time.

Alternatively, if you have the time to be a bit more active, take your dog for a slightly longer walk after they’ve had a few treats. Just remember to take a water bottle with, in case they get thirsty on the way. Play time is also very beneficial – giving your pooch a workout at home, if you have a garden, will keep their weight down if they get play time fairly regularly.

While treats are a great way to show our animal family members some love, remember that giving them a healthy, balanced diet to keep them in great shape is just as much of a sign of love.

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