Pet Treats: Dos and Don’ts

What are the best pet treats for your feline friend or your canine companion? When picking snacks for your beloved furry friend, knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do.  

Taking care of a pet is just like having a child. Some people even consider having a pet dog to help them prepare for motherhood because it offers them experience in taking care of another living being. Companionship can also help one deal with pregnancy more easily.  

You should provide the best treats to your pet for several reasons. When selecting and giving pet treats to an animal you own, here are some helpful tips.


Pet Treat Dos

Pet Treats

1. Read Pet Treat Labels  

Just as when buying prepackaged food for humans, you should read the labels of any pet snacks before buying them. 

Check for ingredients you recognize instead of ones that require you to have a chemistry background. You should also look for “limited ingredient” treats since fewer ingredients tend to be healthier. 

Make sure to avoid unhealthy ingredients like sugar and salt. You can find pet treats with natural and healthier substitutes. Some natural sugar substitutes include:

  • Honey
  • “Green” stevia 
  • Brown rice syrup

One of the main benefits of reading package labeling is it can help you avoid allergic reactions if your pet has food allergies. A 2018 report shows that 0.2% of dogs and 0.1% of cats may have food allergies. 

Some unhealthy ingredients in pet food include food dyes, chemicals, and corn and wheat fillers.


2. Reward Good Behavior With Tasty Treats  

Pet treats are a great option to train your pet and encourage good behavior. Over time, you can decrease the number of snacks you give your pet pooch or house cat. But your pets will likely continue the good behavior. 

Besides encouraging good behavior, you can also use treats to promote a healthy lifestyle. For example, low-calorie pet snacks with healthy ingredients can help keep your animal healthy.


3. Pick Lean Treats and Count Calories

Like humans, obesity can cause various health issues for pets like cats, dogs, and hamsters. Consider feeding them treats with “healthy fats.”  

Besides providing your pet with healthy treats, you can also give them less. Try making treats a maximum of 10% of your pet’s daily calories. 

Factors to consider when calculating your pet’s ideal calorie intake include:

  • Weight
  • Age 
  • Physical activity 

It’s essential to determine how much food you should be feeding your fur baby. 

After calculating your pet’s ideal daily calories, you can figure out what their treat intake should be. Your veterinarian can help determine your pet animal’s ideal daily caloric intake. 

Another way to prevent your pet from overeating treats is to research the calories per treat. Afterward, you can determine the maximum number of treats your pets should eat per day.


4. Make Homemade Healthy Treats

Remember the old saying that “fresh is best.” This option provides you with more control of the treats’ ingredients. Some options include:

  • Tiny bits of chicken, liver, or eggs
  • Baked biscuits
  • Sliced and baked canned prescription food 


5. Be Cautious About Giving Human Snacks 

While human food can be healthy for cats and dogs, some ingredients can be toxic. Items to avoid feeding your dogs include:

  • Chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Nuts
  • Onions

You can also read about how safe other foods are for “man’s best friend.” An example is whether cocoa butter is dog-friendly

Meanwhile, these foods can be dangerous or toxic for cats:

  • Caffeinated drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy (lactose) 
  • Eggs (raw)
  • Garlic
  • Onions

Such ingredients may make your pets sick, so make sure to avoid feeding these foods to them.

A better option is store-bought treats from local pet stores. Manufacturers specially formulate such items for certain pets, like cats or dogs.  


Pet Treat Don’ts

1. Don’t Neglect Your Pets’ Meals 

Pet treats should be a supplement, not a substitute for your pet’s daily meals. Besides boosting your pet’s caloric intake, treats can reduce the nutrients your pet is getting, such as vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. 

Feeding your pet healthy meals and snacks can help ensure they’re getting good nutrition all day. Unhealthy or too many treats can have the opposite effect. 


2. Don’t Feed Toxic Foods

You wouldn’t give your pet unhealthy food on purpose, right? Certain foods can be toxic for pets like cats and dogs without their owners knowing it. Avoid feeding your pet foods like chocolate, coffee, and avocados. 

Please consult with your pet’s veterinarian about which foods may be toxic for them. If you believe your animal has ingested food that’s harmful to them, contact the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. 


3. Don’t Reward Begging 

Try to avoid your pet’s treats becoming more than just quick rewards. In other words, the goal of treats should be to reward your animal. If your pet starts begging for tasty treats with loud barking or meows, avoid feeding them the food. 

What’s the big deal? One potential issue is your pet may keep pleading if you give them treats whenever they beg. Instead, make the treat a reward for good behavior.


Consult Your Pet’s Veterinarian Before Feeding Treats

Make sure to consult your pet’s vet with any questions about what it should and shouldn’t eat. Regarding safety, it’s always best to be on the safe side. Your pet deserves the best!

Providing nutritious and delicious treats is just one way to help keep your pet as comfy as possible. You can also learn more about pet insurance and whether it’s a helpful option for maintaining your furry friend’s health.    


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