The Truth About Dog Treats

Dog treats – the good and bad

We all love to spoil our pets and give rewards for good behavior.  Most pet parents give their dogs treats.  Unfortunately, treats are typically another form of junk food or candy for dogs.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had clients come in frustrated because their dog won’t lose weight even on a low calorie diet food.  Treats are almost always the culprit.  Giving too many treats to your dog  is just like eating fast food or candy for us. It will negatively affect weight and other aspects of life such as energy levels, skin and hair problems, etc.  So, it is very important to understand which dog treats are good to give to your pet, what the benefits of each are, and when to give them.

Bad dog treats

  • Table scraps –  While people food is not necessarily bad for your dog, it’s not the best option.  It can encourage obesity in your animal as well as begging behaviors.  Nobody wants a dog just sitting there staring at them while they eat.  A lot of our clients admit to feeding leftovers or table scraps to their dogs without realizing how bad it is for them.  Fat trimmings, cooked or uncooked can be an obvious cause of obesity in dogs, but there’s more to it than that.  Fat trimmed from meat can cause pancreatitis, or the swelling of the pancreas.  This can be painful and cause depression, pain, loss of appetite, and dehydration.  Feeding cooked bones to your dog such as leftover chicken bones or pork chop bones etc. is extremely risky as well.  Cooked bones can be a choking hazard, can splinter causing punctures and lacerations internally.  Always stay away from cooked bones!
  • Typical store bought dog treats – like those imitation bacon treats or other soft chews like that are incredibly high in calories.  If you choose to give these to your dog, it should be very rarely.  Some dogs have allergies to these types of dog treats also so watch for skin and coat allergies.  Another problem with these soft chew dog treats is that they are horrible for your dog’s teeth.  Tiny sticky pieces can get caught between the teeth and cause tooth decay, gingivitis, and much worse.  My personal recommendation is to stay away from these types of dog treats all together.
  • Rawhide bones and other chews – Most dog owners give their pets rawhide bones or rawhide chews to keep their busy chewer busy or just as a daily dog treat.  If you really stop to think about it, you’re basically giving your four legged baby a piece of leather to chew on.  It’s not nutritionally balanced or adding good things to their diet.  It’s not cleaning their teeth.  It has a choking hazard if given unsupervised and if the pieces get too small.  Rawhide can even lead to a loss of teeth and scrape the gums.  There is no benefit to rawhide chews for a dog treat other than your dog will like it.  Just because someone likes eating chocolate cake, doesn’t mean they should have it every day.  There are plenty of healthy alternatives to rawhide chews if you’re looking for a longer lasting dog treat for the dog that enjoys chewing on things.

there are several foods that you should avoid feeding your dog altogether because of toxins and other harmful effects.  For a full list of these items, visit our tasty and toxic food for dogs page.

Good dog treats

Now that we’ve gotten the bad stuff out of the way, let’s explore the good side of dog treats for our furry babies!  I absolutely love the entire line of Bravo dog treats.  My dog, Louie loves them as well.  There is a plethora of great treat alternatives out there if you know what to look for.  This guide will help you sort it out.

  • Bravo – they have a huge variety of healthy, natural dog treats available including dry roasted and freeze dried options.  The flavors include turkey, duck, venison, beef, buffalo, salmon, and more.  All Bravo treats are grain free, real meat free of antibiotics.  Rotating these dog treats will keep your dog healthy, happy, and interested every time.  They also offer small bites training treats.
  • Stella & Chewy’s – offers all natural treats made with raw, naturally raised meat from USDA-inspected facilities.  Their treats are also freeze dried with no grain, fillers, or additives.  They offer flavors such as turkey, beef, bison, duck, Alaskan salmon, and many more.
  • Honest Kitchen – offers a wide variety of human grade, USDA – inspected treats and foods.  They offer dry treats and one of our favorites, Ice Pups!  These treats are perfect for our southern, humid climate.  They can be served as a liquid treat or frozen during the hotter seasons.  Dogs absolutely love it!
  • Instinct – offers raw, freeze-dried, and roasted treats.  They are all natural, grain free, and gluten free treats that come in a large variety.  Their flavors include chicken, lamb, duck, and rabbit as well as a few others.

Freeze dried treats are an excellent option because they are easy to break apart for training or smaller animals and can be crumbled on top of food to keep your dog interested in each meal without becoming bored.  Freeze-drying is a process that allows moisture to be removed from the food without cooking.  The product is frozen and put into a freeze dryer.  There, powerful pumps vacuum out any moisture creating a meat that retains the nutritional value of raw meat (lost in the cooking process) while giving the consumer the convenience of dry food.

  • Bully Sticks – if your dog is a more aggressive chewer, a perfect alternative is bully sticks.  They come in different shapes and sizes and are actually healthy for your pet!  These all natural treats are 100% digestible unlike those awful rawhide chews.  They also clean your dog’s teeth, are low in fat, and high in protein.

Don’t over do it with your dog treats!

Now that we’ve established which treats are good and which are bad it’s still important to note that you should be giving your dog these treats once or twice daily and no more than that.  The great thing about the freeze dried treats is that you can break them apart to make multiple smaller treats to give throughout the day if you still feel the need to spoil your pet more than suggested.  Keep in mind when giving dog treats that there are calories to consider as well as protein, fiber, and fat.  Too much of any can offset your dog’s healthy status.  It’s absolutely okay to spoil your loved ones, but it’s also our goal to keep our pets as healthy as they are happy.  Keep up with healthy food and treats and your four legged fur baby will be around a lot longer, with much more happiness and energy.

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