Dog asking for a dog biscuit

Just like people, our doggies deserve some treats every now and then. Feeding your dog treats is a great way to show him or her a little extra love. Treats can range between anything from homemade dog biscuits, to the store-bought variety, to a bite of steak from your dinner plate.

Treats are a great motivational tool when training your dog. When you give your dog these little gifts, you can feel good about giving a reward, and your dog gets to feel good about pleasing you. With so many options available, it may be difficult to know which one is right for your dog. Here are some considerations to make when it comes to choosing treats for your precious pooch.

Consider the Calories

Nearly half of all pets in the United States are overweight. Take your dog’s weight into consideration when choosing dog treats, as well as deciding how many of them to give out. Tami Pierce, DVM, clinical veterinarian at the University of California, Davis warns, “If you’re not careful, treats can add a substantial amount of calories to your dog’s otherwise normal, healthy diet.”

According to the experts, treats and snacks should only consist of 10% of a dog’s daily calories. To figure out how many treats that equals, ask your veterinarian. Generally speaking, you should only give your dog treats one at a time.

Selecting Store-Bought Treats

The treats you feed your dog should be easy on their teeth. Don’t give your dog anything that is hard, such as hooves, bones or antlers. Giving your dog treats that are too hard can fracture his teeth. A good way to judge if a treat is too hard is to push your thumbnail into it. If it leaves a mark than it is safe for your dog’s teeth. If not, choose something else. The only exception to this is rawhide. This is because as your dog chews on it, it softens up.

Select treats that have added nutrients or dental benefits. Take a careful look at the ingredients, specifically the first listed. This is because whatever ingredients are listed first, make up more of the product than anything else. Top-quality ingredients are fresh, pure and minimally processed. This is because the more a food is processed, the more nutrients are lost. For example, wheat is a better ingredient than wheat flour. In addition to this, there should be no question about where the ingredient comes from. For example, if the ingredient says “animal fat,” that isn’t specific enough. Instead it should read “chicken” or “chicken fat.”

According to The Whole Dog Journal, avoid dog treats that have artificial colors, preservatives and chemical humectants. These dangerous ingredients include propylene glycol, BHA, BHT, sodium nitrate and potassium sorbate.

Table Scraps as Treats

Many people find it hard to resist those big eyes staring at them when they are eating a meal. Keep in mind that if you give in to their begging, you could be creating a monster. In addition to this, table scraps are generally high in fat and sugar. This can upset your dog’s healthy digestion, and also discourage him from eating other nutritionally-balanced foods that would benefit him.

Reward Them With Healthy Alternatives

Store-bought snacks are often high in fat, sugar and preservatives. As an alternative to this, try feeding your dog fruits and vegetables. You may think that your dog won’t be interested in eating them, but your dog is likely to just be happy that you are giving him something at all.

When it comes to vegetables, try a baby carrot, a green bean or some broccoli, as they are low in calories. If you want to try fruits, feed your dog banana slices, berries, watermelon and apple slices. Never feed grapes, raisins, onions or chocolate to your dog. Another low-calorie treat idea for your dog is air-popped popcorn with no salt or butter.