When it comes to dogs, they really can be man’s, or woman’s, best friend and naturally we want to honour that by showering our dogs in treats but with so much choice and so much information available how do you know what to buy? Walk into any pet shop, petfood store or even supermarket, and you will be presented with an array of food and treats for your dog, some will claim to be better than others, some will boast to have ‘added vitamins and minerals’ just like we see on our own food labelling, and of course some will cost much more than others. So, how exactly can you navigate this mine field and what is it that you should be looking for in order to truly support your dog’s health in a more natural and gut friendly manner.
What are natural dog treats?
When we talk about natural dog treats what we are looking at is food items that have been through as little processing as possible and have not been treated with lots of chemicals and additives. You would think that the dog food companies would want us to feed our animals only the best but in reality it is no different than the fast foods that we can buy, and consume, as humans – it can be cheap, convenient and bought in bulk but isn’t necessarily good for our health and the same is true for the food and treats that we can buy for our dogs. The wrong treats can rapidly lead to obesity, fat deposits around internal organs and behavioural problem.
Some items may appear to be more natural and dog friendly than others. If we look at rawhide chews as an example, they may appear relatively natural and healthy, but have actually been through multiple processing stages with various chemicals used to ‘split’ the hide, strip out any colour, strip away fat and ensure there is no hair remaining. As a new dog owner, or even a more experienced owner it is easy to fall into the trap of buying treats and chews that we think will enrich our dogs lives but actually do the opposite.
Whilst many natural dog treats will be dried or baked, the aim is not to add in any chemicals or other additives, like sweeteners and flavourings, and not to strip out any of the natural goodness.
Is feeding treats safe to do?
Yes, feeding your dog treats is absolutely a safe thing to do, it can reward them when you are training and help to reinforce the good behaviours that you want to see more of. Not to mention the fact that as loving dog owners giving treats seems a natural way to show our pets some love.
But, and it’s quite a big but, not all treats are made equal. In fact, some treats that are commercially available can be damaging for your dog’s health, they can lead to excessive weight gain, gum disease, and other illnesses. What you feed as treats, how much you feed, and how often you feed should be carefully considered.
When feeding treats look for healthy, natural, raw options where possible and aim to feed no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily calorie intake in the form of treats. Overfeeding treats that are high in calories and / or fats can lead to obesity and other health related issues.
Why choose natural treats?
Rewarding a dog with small treats whilst training is one of the most popular ways to reinforce the behaviours that we want to see from our dogs, and we know that it works. Feeding treats can also be a good way to create variety in what our dogs eat and the right treats can form part of your dog’s daily enrichment to help create a healthy happy pet.
Choosing natural dog treats that you buy from a reputable supplier, such as Pet Nanny Boutique, means that you can feed with confidence.
Confidence that your treats will not:
- Contain hidden sugars
- Be packed full of additives and preservatives
- Contain chemicals that could be detrimental to your dog’s health
- Be bulked out with cereals and other harmful carbohydrates
Of course, there is the option of making your own treats and with that you can control exactly what goes into them but we’ll cover that in a later blog. For now, here are some tips on what to look out for that make good treats, both from within you own cupboard/fridge and when you are buying treats.
- Look for treats that contain as few ingredients as possible
- Cow ears – great for chewing on
- Duck / chicken / lamb or other meat cubes – natural and protein packed
- Beef tails
- Chicken feet
- Cow hooves
- Raw bones – a great way to clean teeth
- Split antlers – trimmed and gently cleaned
- Look for treats that are grain and gluten free
- Avoid anything that contains Xylitol as it is highly dangerous for dogs
- Avoid treats that sound healthy like ‘rawhide’ but which are actually heavily processed.
Treats from your cupboard/fridge
- Cooked chicken – no cooked bones and without oils or seasoning etc
- Fruits such at blueberries and strawberries in small quantities
- Small amounts of apple or unsweetened apple sauce (ideally homemade)
- Small amounts of cheese
- Raw nuts such as almonds and cashew – be careful and do your research first as some nuts are harmful to dogs
Transitioning to a more natural and raw form of feeding, be it treats or your dog’s main meals, can feel overwhelming to begin with but the long term health benefits for your dog are worth you taking the time to do your research. For any questions or support please feel free to get in touch, we are always happy to help.