The following article is courtesy of Purina.
If you could mimic your dog’s ability to beg for a treat with just a look from those gorgeous puppy eyes, you might have the answer to world peace. Even those that drool are hard to resist when it comes to sharing a bite, or four, of your dinner. Unfortunately, what he’d like to sample is not always good for him. Some human favorites can cause grave harm, such as chocolate or onions added to his steak. If you’re too generous with the portions, even healthy tidbits can negatively affect an otherwise balanced diet. Finding the right treats for your canine hero takes a little investigation, but the benefits are worth the effort.
Treating Him Healthy
Whether you’re using treats to grab his attention during obedience training or just sharing your love by way of his stomach, Jennifer Coates, DVM recommends your dog should get 90 percent of his daily nutrition from a complete and balanced dog food and only 10 percent from treats. When you’re considering snacks for your pup, both quality and quantity matter. Choosing low-calorie, goodies such as frozen green beans or low calorie dog treats means your pup gets more of those appetite quenching snacks than he would with a high calorie treat. According to the president of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, Ernie Ward, DVM, “Even a single, high-calorie treat — such as, bacon, or cheese snacks — can fill as much as one-fifth to one-fourth of a small dog’s daily calorie needs.”
The variety of treats available at your favorite grocery or pet store probably equal or may even outnumber the selection of kibble on the shelves. Some are small or low calorie and thus perfect to use for training. A few offer dual action, such as clean teeth and fresh breath in one bite. Many have all natural ingredients carefully chosen by experts in dog nutrition and promise a taste your dog cannot resist. The ingredients are typically listed on the label, making it easy for you to research the nutritional value of these snacks. Their long shelf life and easy storage also make prepackaged treats an attractive buy.
Keeping it Natural
Baby carrots and other vegetables also can be offered as occasional treats, but never give your dog onions, garlic, grapes or raisins, since they are toxic for canines. And since natural does not mean “all you can eat,” you’ll still need to monitor your pup’s portions and prevent his daily calorie intake from exceeding his requirements.
Tips for Treating
- Whether yours is a turkey loving family or one that prefers vegetarian delights, there’s little that signals celebration as effectively as a table laden with holiday food. You can make him a part of the fun and prevent gastrointestinal upset and other food related illnesses by limiting your friend to a few slivers of turkey without the gravy or giving him a taste of the sweet potatoes before the sugar gets added.
- Like many humans, your dog may prefer to forgo the “good for you” food on his plate and fill up on tasty snacks throughout the day. If your pup is one of these, the best time to give him a treat is about the halfway mark between one meal and the other.
- Always check with your veterinarian first if you aren’t sure whether a favorite food you’d like to share with your pup is a healthy alternative for him.
- If you don’t know how many calories your dog needs in a day, check with your veterinarian. Like people, his calorie requirements depend on size and activity level.
PETMD: What’s Good for You is Not Always Good for Your Dog
Association for Pet Obesity Prevention: Kibble Crack: Vet Exposes Sugary Secret of Pet Treats
PETMD: Healthy Dog Treats: Natural, Organic and Other Treats to Help Keep Dogs Fit
DogChannel.com: Healthy Dog Treats
PETMD: Healthy Snack Ideas: People Food for Dogs and Cats