What pet parent doesn’t like rewarding their pup with dog treats? But how often should you give treats to your dog? The good news for pet parents and dogs alike is that most experts agree a dog can safely receive up to 10% of his daily caloric intake from treats. Dog biscuits, though, should be given sparingly—no more than one or two per day.
An Important Part of a Dog’s Day
Along with being a key component in behavioral training, dog treats also stimulate physical activity and add dietary variety to your pet’s daily nutritional needs. Here’s what to keep in mind about which treats you give him, the quantity that’s considered safe, and why they’re good for his overall well-being.
How Many Treats Should Your Dog Get?
When it comes to your pet’s health, how much you treat is more important than how often you do. Though you both look forward to treat time, too many treats can cause unwanted weight gain. Close monitoring of how many treats you’re tossing your pooch’s way is important, so you don’t go over his total daily recommended caloric count. If you already do or want to start occasionally giving your pet more treats than normal, be sure to adjust his meal size to accommodate those additional calories.
The best way to approach treat time is to first talk with the vet about what your dog’s daily calorie consumption should be. Another option for more frequent “treating” is to use low calorie or homemade treats. You can also try breaking one treat or biscuit into smaller bits that you give your dog one at a time. This keeps calorie consumption where it should be while providing him with the palate-pleasing enjoyment he’s looking for.
When Should Your Pet Get Treats?
Dogs are masters of routine and thrive on knowing what you expect of them. Treats are a terrific way to establish and maintain regular daily habits. Common treat times include before or after mealtimes, when you leave or arrive home from work or an all-day event, as behavior awards, after walks, and after peeing or pooping.
Dogs love positive reinforcement and experts say it’s the foundation to good training. Treats play a key role in reaching different behavior objectives. You don’t have to be a dog wizard to know that most dogs are extremely food motivated. Treats let you use this natural instinct to teach your pet that there’s a connection between what you ask of him and what he gets in return. With some commands such as “sit,” “stay,” or “stop,” you can eventually discontinue treating for every completed task.
Types of Dog Treats
Most people think of dog treats as things like biscuits and jerky. But you don’t have to limit your pet’s treats to dog-specific products. Some other nutritious options include cubed apples (for vitamin C, fiber, and calcium), carrots, sweet potato jerky, blueberries, and more.
Talk to your vet about which fruits and vegetables are safe for your dog’s consumption before introducing these types of treats into his diet. And in commercial products, try to avoid those that contain white flour, artificial coloring, gluten, and/or sodium nitrite as these are generally not good for your pet’s health.
There’s much more to giving your dog treats than showing him affection. Make sure to choose the right kinds of treats, add variety to the types of treats you give, and stay mindful that treats are never used as bribes.