There are many misconceptions that a dog needs snacks and treats. However, your pup doesn’t need to eat in between meals and they won’t be lacking nutrients with the food you offer them.
When training a dog, it may become necessary to use snacks as a reward. However, you should avoid giving them non-nutritious snacks that will undermine their health.
Here are some tips for choosing and feeding treats, and a roundup of simple, fresh snacks that both parents and your dog will be happy to see.
Risks & Benefits of Giving Snacks To Your Dog
More than half of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese, and this has extremely detrimental health consequences.
Lots of commercial dog treats are high in calories and sugar, plus some have dubious ingredients that may contribute to dog obesity.
In a recent study, study, the University of Padua examined 32 commonly available dog treats for their nutritional content.
They found that most exceeded the recommended daily allowance for treats.
Many pet owners want to give their dogs healthy fruits and vegetables but they don’t know if it is safe for their dogs. Below are a few of the questions that many vets and dog experts are asked on a daily basis:
- Can dogs eat bananas?
- Can dogs eat strawberries?
- Can dogs eat avocado?
Many fruits and veggies can add additional vitamins and minerals to your dogs diet. We recommend you learn what food your dog can eat before you begin giving your dog human food. Some human food can be healthy and beneficial for your dog but others can be dangerous for your dog.
What Is Actually In Most Dog Treats?
You can tell whether a treat contains a certain ingredient by checking the list of ingredients. A study by USQ found that 76% of treats had nine or more ingredients, and 23% did not contain any actual chicken, beef or salmon in them even though they claimed to use one as an ingredient.
This can be especially dangerous for dogs on dietary restrictions, such as kidney disease. If you’re not sure what the label says, how will you ever know if the dog treat contains unhealthy ingredients.
Processed jerky treats also carry risks–the FDA reported in 2015 that it had received over 5,000 complaints about illnesses associated with chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats.
Processed jerky products often contain chemicals and preservatives harmful to humans.
What Treats Should You Give Your Dog?
Veterinarians, including those from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), recommend fruits and vegetables because they’re high in nutrients and low in calories. For pets who gain too much weight easily, these will help:
Apples are a great option for dogs when they’re out and about on their walk, or sitting at home with your pup all day. Not only are these fruits high in fiber and filled with antioxidants to help promote healthy digestion and an attractive smile, but the fleshy fruit also can help remove plaque where it sticks between teeth. It is typically recommended that you remove the seeds and the core of the apple before feeding them to your dog.
Bananas provide a nutritional punch, as they are considered low in cholesterol and sodium, high in fiber, and contain potassium, vitamins (including vitamin C), copper and more. However, just like anything else containing sugar – including 12 grams for a small banana – it is best to avoid feeding your dog too much banana at one time.
Strawberries have a wide range of health benefits. They protect teeth by providing the acid that helps whiten them, they provide vitamin C to boost immunity, and their fiber content will help you feel fuller throughout the day. Strawberries also contain sugar so give in small portions as they should not replace full meals.
Consisting of 92 percent water, watermelon is an excellent choice for a tasty and refreshing treat on a hot day. It contains important nutrients like potassium and vitamins A, B-6, and C. Keep the rind away from your dog to avoid possible intestinal blockage or digestion problems.
Make Sure Not To Give Your Dog Too Many Snacks
Too much of a good thing can still lead to weight gain. To master portion control for your dog, only feed the right amount according to the 90/10 rule – no more than 10% should be treats or snacks.
One way to determine calorie count is to consult a food database. When it comes to your dog, knowing how many calories it needs during the day can help you calculate how much of any given treat should be fed.
For example, a 20-pound dog may need 325-400 calories per day. Meaning that in general too many treats will cause your dog to exceed the 10% recommendation.