We all like to treat ourselves with a yummy snack or dessert sometimes, right? Who is to say that dogs are any different than humans? I don’t know about your dogs, but I know my canine kids love getting treats. Are dog treats healthy though? When it comes to my dogs, I like to research and get as much information as I can when it comes to their health.
Learning about whether or not treats are a healthy option for dogs is actually much easier than you might think. While the quality of the treats and what you actually feed them is important, what you really need to focus on is calories. That’s right.
Table of Contents
Are dog treats healthy?
Dog treats can be healthy as long as they are fed to your dogs in the correct fashion and you need to keep their calorie consumption at the right levels. In order to make sure that this is done correctly, you just need to have the right information.
How many calories should your dogs consume?
Just like people, dogs need to keep their calorie consumption to a specific level. No, it’s not the 2,000 calorie limit that you often hear about with human diets. You will need to stick to a calorie level which is dependent on your dog’s age, breed, and size. As a general rule though, you should know that your dog’s calorie needs average roughly 30 calories per pound of body weight per day.
Dogs who live a very sedentary life, or dogs that are older, require much fewer calories than active dogs. You can expect to feed these dogs roughly 30% fewer calories than dogs that move around more.
This is a generalized calculation and you will notice that it won’t always match up to what the dog food bag suggests when it comes to feeding. To get the most accurate idea of how many calories your dog needs, be sure and ask your veterinarian. Just like people, all dogs are a little bit different and have different requirements.
How do you know how many calories your dog is eating?
Be sure to pay close attention to your dog’s food. Read the bag to get caloric information. If the dog food bag doesn’t have the calorie information, it takes a little more work to get the specifics, but it is needed. You can either go online and look (there are a plethora of information-filled forums out there), or you can find the customer service number for the dog food company and call and ask.
What percentage of your dog’s calories should be treats?
According to most veterinarians, the general rule of thumb is that treats should be no more than 5% of the calories in your dog’s diet.
To make that easier, let’s break down this example. Let’s say you have an active Chihuahua. That Chihuahua needs approximately 400 calories per day. This means that treats should make up only 20 calories for each day in order to stay under that 5% cap.
This doesn’t mean that you need to only give low calorie treats to your dog, but what it does mean is that if you are going to give your dog a treat that is high fat or high calorie, you need to be sure to add a little less food to their dish that day. It’s all about balance.
What types of treats should you give your dog?
Dogs can enjoy many different kinds of treats and frankly, dogs WILL eat just about anything. To make sure their diets and their treats are healthiest though you should make sure to give your dog the best treats possible.
You should make sure you read all the ingredients before you feed anything to your dog. I avoid feeding the dogs treats that are full of ingredients that I can’t pronounce. And anything full of artificial flavors or dyes.
The article, “Dangerous dog treats and how they could make your dog sick,” has a thorough list of potentially dangerous ingredients and items to avoid when choosing dog treats. Recently, the European Food Safety Authority has declared that titanium dioxide can no longer be considered safe as additive in dog treats and food. There is some concern about its potential as a carcinogen.
Yes, you can buy high-quality treats at a pet store, but you can also make really great and healthy treats at home to have ready to give your dogs wherever the need for a treat arrives.
- Cooked sweet potatoes
- Cooked squash
Or you can get more complicated and make your own healthy treats and cookies for your dog. We have a number of recipes on our blog.
How to feed new treats to your dog
Sometimes a new food can bother your dog’s sensitive stomach. If you are preparing to feed your dogs a new treat, the best way to go about it is to do it slowly. Give them just a small amount at a time so that you know whether or not it would affect their gastrointestinal systems.