Right Treats for Your Dog – Just as we have our favorite snacks, our furry four-legged canine friends also have their own favorite snacks. However, more than simply supplying our pooches with additional calories and nutrients, an excellent quality dog treat can do so much more. One of them is to keep your dog’s teeth naturally clean and germ-free, keep it strongly motivated to observe good canine behavior, and keep it from feeling bored and frustrated.
In fact, your choice of the right treats to give to your pooch can spell the difference whether it will grow to become a well-rounded pooch or one with a bunch of canine behavioral problems. So how do you choose the right treats for your dog?
Keep it Natural
Dog nutrition experts strongly recommend giving certain natural ‘human’ foods to our pooches as part of their treats. Some of the highly recommended human foods that can be used as treats include baby carrots or regular carrots sliced into bite-sized pieces, broccoli, green beans, banana slices, fleshy part of a watermelon without the seeds, and slices of apple without the core and the seeds. Technically, dogs can eat almost anything that we give them; however, this doesn’t mean that we should.
The idea is to give them wholesome fruits and vegetables in their raw form. If these have to be cooked, then it should never be done using oil as you are only negating the health benefits of going veggies and fruits. What you want your dog to get from these treats is the phytochemicals that they contain. These substances are rich in antioxidants that are very beneficial in promoting healthier skin as well as fur. This also helps minimize skin irritations on your pooch.
Additionally, going natural simply means you’re not giving your pet pooch any artificial chemical that may be added to the food to give it color, make it taste amazing, or even lengthen its shelf life. You’ve probably heard of artificial coloring, flavorings, and preservatives. You don’t want any of these things inside your dog’s system.
That being said, you should also be careful about processing these natural foods yourself. That is why it is best given in raw form. But in case you do have to cook it somehow, make sure to steer clear of oils, salt, and other ingredients that may undermine your dog’s health.
Always Observe the 10% Rule
So what exactly is the 10 percent rule? This is actually not a very strict rule but rather a guideline regarding the use of treats. Understanding its implication is crucial to making the right choice related to doggie treats.
The 10 percent rule simply states that the doggie treat should not comprise more than 10 percent of your pets’ daily calorie and nutrient intake. For instance, if you are currently feeding your pooch about 400 calories every day, then 10 percent of this is 40 calories.
Now suppose you are eyeing a particular brand of doggie treat, but its ingredient list says that a single serving of the treat will give your pooch 50 calories or 10 calories more than what your dog actually needs? Suppose there is another brand that lists in its label 5 calories per serving.
If you get this treat you know that you can give your pooch 4 servings of this treat twice a day to account for the 40 calories. You might say that you can always make adjustments in the main meal of your pooch. In our example, since there is an excess of 10 calories, you might be inclined to think that subtracting 10 calories from its main meal – to become 390 calories – will balance everything.
Well, this line of thinking has its merits. Unfortunately, it’s more of the erroneous ones. It is pretty obvious that the nutrition profile of mainstream dog food is way better than doggie treats. You may be supplying your pooch with the same amount of calories, but have you considered the different nutrients that they may be missing? To put it simply, will you replace your sumptuous meal with a snack? We didn’t think so, too. This is essentially the same with doggie treats.
One cannot readily assume that by making the necessary adjustments in the daily calorie and nutrient intake of your dog derived from its main dog food will already justify the giving of doggie treats more than what is necessary.
As such, in choosing the right doggie treat it’s a must that you have an idea of how many calories and nutrients this 10 percent is. Giving more calories than usual can make your pooch obese. This can lead to the development of other metabolic abnormalities.
Consider Low-Calorie but Nutrient-Rich Treats
In relation to our discussion in the preceding point, it is crucial to choose doggie treats that have fewer calories per serving yet are packed with essential nutrients that your pet may not be getting from its ordinary meal. You see there are special formulations of doggie treats that come fully-embedded with omega fatty acids, antioxidants, antibacterials, antivirals, antifungals, and even probiotics and prebiotics.
Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, or Not?
There is no other issue that has divided the dog-loving world a lot more than the choice between a gluten- or grain-free diet and a diet that contains these ingredients. The same debate has spilled over to the area of doggie treats.
Let us take a closer look at what is causing the polarity.
First let us try to differentiate grain-free from gluten-free diets because there is this really awful tendency of people to think that they are essentially one and the same. No, they’re definitely not. Grains are a large group of food items that are typically described as small, dry, and hard seeds. Examples of grains are millet, sorghum, corn, barley, rice, oats, wheat, rye, spelt, buckwheat, quinoa, and chia, among others. Chickpeas, common beans, garden peas, lentils, mung beans, lima beans, peanuts, and soybeans as well as other members of the pea family are also considered as grains. There are also grains that are valued for their oils such as sunflower, safflower, rapeseed, flaxseed, and hemp seed.
If one is going to say grain-free then the doggie food or treat should not contain any of these types of grains. But if you look at the ingredient list, the only so-called grains that manufacturers excluded are corn, wheat, and soybeans. And yet they put “Grain-free“ in their label as if it doesn’t contain rice, peas, barley, and the other grains we mentioned above.
Looking at gluten, this is a type of protein that is specifically derived from certain types of grains like wheat, soy, and corn which are essentially what manufacturers of so-called “Grain-Free” doggie treats are referring to.
What they fail to mention is that gluten is also found in rye, oats, barley, spelt, and malt. The reason why people say it is dangerous to your dog is that some dogs are genetically pre-destined to the formation of celiac disease, gluten ataxia, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and even dermatitis herpetiformis. The sad thing is that science has already shown that these conditions are very rare in dogs, except perhaps for the Irish Setter.
So what’s the real deal in grain-free and gluten-free dog treats? Obviously what doggie food and treat manufacturers have to stop doing is to put the “grain-free” mark in their labels since their ingredient list will only point to the absence of corn, wheat, and soy. As such, a more appropriate label will be “gluten-free”.
Should you choose a doggie treat that is gluten-free or not? It’s like this. One of the reasons why folks don’t want your dog to eat grains is that their digestive system is not programmed to digest grains. Surprisingly, the canine gut has evolved so much that it can now digest grains easily. Should you go for a gluten-free doggie treat then, since this will help minimize food allergies? Did you know that chicken and beef – two of the most common ingredients in canine nutrition – are actually more allergenic than corn, wheat, or soy?
Going grain-free or gluten-free is absolutely your decision to make and whether you believe in what we just shared with you. Bloggers and company websites will tell you gluten-free and grain-free dog treats are the way to go. However, scientific pet communities will tell you outright that today’s dogs are better adapted to chow on almost anything.
Unless you can ascertain that your dog has allergies to gluten, then you can go gluten-free. As for the grain-free, you might want to ask the company why they call their product ‘grain-free’ when it also contains rice and other types of grains.
Choose Doggie Treats that Provide Added Benefit
A treat is different from a dog’s main meal for the simple fact that it should be fun. As such, one of the most important things you will have to consider is the general purpose of the treat. Some doggie treats are designed to help remove plaque and tartar buildup from your pet’s teeth.
This can help improve its overall dental and oral health by reducing the risk of gum disease development. This matters a lot especially if you have a pooch that is not really keen to having its teeth brushed very often.
There are also doggie treats that can be equated by the dog to something that is fun and very reassuring. They can spend countless hours munching on these treats and they will feel not a bit bored or frustrated. This makes them less prone to destructive chewing and other forms of canine destructive or unwanted behavior. In other words, there are doggie treats that are specifically designed to help your pooch to relax and feel calmer.
Choosing the right doggie treat is all about looking at the nutrient content of what you’re giving them. Pets benefit a lot more from natural foods. However, if you do need to give them commercially available treats, always consider the 10-percent rule, low-calorie but nutrient-rich content, and gluten-free formulations. You might also want to make sure that the doggie treat serves some other purpose than merely supplying your dog with additional calories and nutrients. It is, after all, a treat that needs to be enjoyed.