What A Treat: Choosing The Best Dog Treats

Kate Barrington
by Kate Barrington
Your dog deserves a treat now and then. But how do you pick the best dog treats for your pooch?

Every dog comes running at the sound of the treat bag opening – he can’t wait for that tasty little morsel. Treats are a great way to show your dog a little extra love and it can also be used in training your dog. Choosing the right treat is important because you don’t want to give your dog anything that is bad for him. Let’s go over how to choose the best dog treats for your pup and why you should include them in your dog’s diet.

Related: Can You Feed Your Dog Table Scraps?

Why Offer Treats?

Perhaps the most common use for dog treats is as a reward during training sessions – when your dog responds appropriately to your command, you give him a treat to show him that he has done what you asked. Treats can also be a simple way to show your dog a little bit of extra love, especially if you have just done something that he doesn’t like such as trimming his nails or cleaning his ears. Another benefit of some treats is that they may help to clean your dog’s teeth. There are many benefits to dog treats but they should still only be used in moderation. Just like when you have a dessert, dog treats should be an occasional supplement – too many can lead to an overweight pooch!

Related: Eat Your Veggies Dog Treat Recipe

How to Choose the Best Dog Treats

Choosing a quality dog treat is similar to choosing a high-quality dog food. First, you need to read the food label to check on the ingredients listed. If you can’t identify more than half of the ingredients on the list, you should probably choose another treat. In addition to the ingredients, you should also check to see how many calories are in each treat and what the serving size is. You don’t always have to use commercially prepared dog treats – something as simple as frozen green beans can be used as a low-calorie and healthy treat for your dog.

Ideally, your dog should get 90 percent of his daily nutrition from his food and only 10 percent (or less) from treats. Choose healthy but low-calorie treats so you don’t significantly increase your dog’s daily calorie intake by offering them. You may also want to select a treat that offers additional benefits such as cleaning your dog’s teeth. Once you select a treat, make sure you follow the storage instructions to keep the treats fresh. If you don’t feel comfortable with store-bought treats, try making your own with human-grade ingredients.

Tips for Using Treats Properly

When offering your dog treats, it is important that you don’t give him too many. Treats should be an occasional thing, something to use in rewarding your dog for good behavior or as a simple way to say “I love you.” It’s important to realize that even a few treats can significantly increase the daily caloric intake of your dog, so overfeeding could lead to weight gain or obesity. Consider that a 20-pound dog may only burn about 700 calories per day and his regular dog food provides for nearly all of those calories. If a large dog biscuit contains as many as 100 calories, you could be increasing your dog’s calorie intake by nearly 15 percent with one biscuit.

Treats are a great way to reward your dog, but they should only be used occasionally. With the above tips, you should be able to select a healthy dog treat that provides additional benefits and only offer them once in a while.

Kate Barrington
Kate Barrington

Kate Barrington is the loving owner of two cats (Bagel and Munchkin) and a noisy herd of guinea pigs. Having grown up with golden retrievers, Kate has a great deal of experience with dogs but labels herself a lover of all pets. Having received a Bachelor's degree in English, Kate has combined her love for pets and her passion for writing to create her own freelance writing business, specializing in the pet niche.

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