Choosing Treats For Your Dog

Treats are an important part of how we interact and bond with our dogs. For many pet parents treats are essential when training their puppy or teaching their adult dog new skills.

When we stop to think about it there are so many reasons that we give treats to our dogs. Aside from teaching and training, we use tasty treats as a distraction, as a part of their routine, to reward good behaviour, to bond with them, and so much more. Whatever the reason that you feed treats to your dog, why choose a natural treat?

Well, to maintain your dog’s balanced diet treats can form up to 10% of your dog’s daily energy requirement. We spend time and energy finding a food for our dogs which is healthy and nutritious and suits them well. Let’s not spoil all of that by not considering our treat choices. Let me help you decide what kind of treat is best for your dog.

Natural treats

Artificial colours and flavours are unnecessary. Dogs don’t care what colour their treats are and when there are so many tasty flavours straight from meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables who wants artificial flavours? Naturally preserved is always my preference. Let’s avoid artificial preservatives and antioxidants which although keep treats fresh can have effects upon our dog’s behaviour and may even have carcinogenic effects. No thank you.

Novel ingredients

If your dog has ingredient sensitivities or allergies, a novel ingredient can help to avoid ingredient sensitivity triggers. A novel ingredient means something that your dog has not eaten before. Often this can include ingredients like duck or rabbit. A novel ingredient can be less likely to trigger sensitivities than ingredients which your dog has experienced before.

Single ingredients

By choosing a single ingredient treat you know that there are no extra ingredients included which you don’t know about. If your dog has ingredient sensitivities or allergies then a single ingredient treat is a great option, as you can easily choose a treat which avoids their trigger ingredients.

Low calorie

Keeping our dogs at their ideal weight is essential for their long-term health and wellbeing, no mater their current age. Low calorie treats are a tasty option but are lower in fats and energy than other options. As treats should make up only up to 10% of the energy of a balanced diet low calorie treat options are more suitable for situations such as:
– During puppy training when treats are being fed frequently
– For dogs who are at risk of becoming overweight
– Times when more treats are used for distractions or training.

Gentle on digestion

Treats which on gentle on digestion are useful for dogs and puppies with sensitive tummies. By using high quality protein and lean meats treats can be produced which are less rich and suitable for more dogs. It is always important for new foods, including treats, to be introduced to the diet gradually so that the dog’s digestive system has chance to adjust to the new food. For dogs with sensitive digestion this is crucial, and a steadier introduction is beneficial.

Which format is right for you?

Depending upon your reason for feeding treats, different treat formats will suit your needs best.
Training? You’ll want tiny, tasty titbits to motivate your dog without filling them up, and suitable to feed more of. A treat which is easy to break tiny pieces off, such as Better Natural Treats Sticks or Training Rewards are ideal here.
Wanting to keep your pooch occupied? A chew format is what you’re looking for. This takes them longer to eat and the chewing action releases endorphins to help to calm them.

What will you choose for your dog?  

Laura Ward BSc (Hons)
Pet Nutritionist
Rewarding Pet Nutrition

Laura studied Animal Science at The University of Nottingham and has worked in Pet Nutrition for 9 years. Her final year project lead to the “Who’s been a good dog? Owner perceptions and motivations in treat giving” published paper. This gives great insight into the reasons that pet parents feed treats and treat suitability.
Through Rewarding Pet Nutrition, Laura supports pet businesses and dog owners with nutrition. From developing new pet food products and formulating pet food recipes, to delivering tailored recommendations for individual dogs.

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