Did you know that many pet owners tend to go overboard when it comes to giving treats to their canine buddies? Unfortunately, this well-meaning generosity has its consequences because treats contain calories and too much consumption can increase the dog’s risk to piling on the pounds. When fed too many treats, your dog would have less appetite when it comes to meal time. Excessive consumption can also make a dog sick.
Treats are not just given out during training as a form of positive reinforcement. Some treats are formulated to provide hours of chewing pleasure to prevent boredom, dental chews help keep the dog’s teeth clean and healthy, and treats that contain glucosamine and chondroitin can help improve joint health. But treats are not a source of complete nutrition. They are generally rich in sugar, fat, and calories. These products cannot be used as a substitute for premium-quality pet food. Even if your dog leads an active lifestyle, too many treats can negatively impact your pet’s health and well-being because of their low nutritional value.
The “10% Rule”
In general, calories from treats should not exceed 10% of a dog’s daily calorie intake. You can determine your dog’s caloric needs using this calculator.
If you know your pet’s daily total calorie intake, it will be possible for you to calculate how much calories forms 10%. If your pet is overweight or obese or you still have questions and concerns about giving treats to your dog, talk to your veterinarian.
Basically, there are 2 things that you usually have during dog training – a clicker to mark desired behavior, and treats to reward the desired behavior. Treats provide positive reinforcement during puppy training. Knowing that their favorite treats are on hand can surely motivate a dog or puppy to work harder and learn faster so they will have their reward. Take note that, if you give out treats frequently, the treats would lose their value when it comes to being used as a reward during training. The best treats for training should be small enough to be consumed easily so there won’t be any distractions while the training is ongoing.
The “10% rule” should be observed even during puppy training, although this can be quite tricky if your dog is an eager learner. However, there are other forms of non-food rewards that can also be given such as extended playtime, lots of belly rubs, and lavish praise.
There are so many types of treats that can be bought in stores or online. There are also lots of homemade treat recipes that you can make. When buying treats, be sure to check the ingredients and the number of calories that the product contains. Because of the negative implications of feeding too many treats to your pooch, you should be calorie-conscious not only during feeding but also in choosing the best treat for your pet. Soft-baked treats, for instance, are deeply satisfying but can pack on the pounds when given in excess. There are also low-calorie treats and healthy treats that you can choose for your pet’s training.
When it comes to ingredients, all-natural ingredients are the best without the fillers, additives, artificial food colors, and preservatives. Jerky treats have fewer calories and one jerky can be sliced into smaller pieces for use during puppy training.
As the name implies, one of the main ingredients of milk bone treats is milk. Excessive consumption of these treats can cause digestive upsets and itchy skin. But the problem can be compounded in dogs that are lactose intolerant. Milk bones may also contain ingredients that are harmful to dogs such as sugar, wheat, BHA, soy, corn, and artificial colors and preservatives. Dogs are naturally attracted to treats because of their sugar content. Just imagine the impact of eating too much sugar on pups that are teething! BHA is a commonly used preservative. Unfortunately, it is a known carcinogen. Wheat, soy, and corn are important triggers of food allergies in dogs.