Humans are motivated by rewards and so are dogs. It can be particularly tempting at certain times of the year such as Christmas, to feed your dog lots of treats and snacks, but be careful. Vets warn that feeding your dog too many treats can lead to them becoming overweight and expecting treats regularly instead of on occasion.
There has been some scrutiny on what goes into making some of the commercially available dog treats and whether feeding them to your dog can have a beneficial or harmful effect. Some dogs can have food sensitivities or allergies which may mean that they cannot eat certain foods. Some dogs may have health conditions which may mean that some foods are not suitable for them.
If in doubt, then always consult a vet to make sure that a treat is safe for your pet. Owners who are aware of such problems should read pet treat labelling carefully.
Here are some of the good and bad treats that you can give your dog. Dogs are omnivorous so can enjoy a variety of foods.
Bad treats that are not recommended include:
Hard items such as bones which may fracture or damage teeth.
Raisins or grapes which can cause diarrhoea
Some vets do not recommend dog treats manufactured in places such as China because of the different standards of food production as opposed to the UK. Dog owners should also avoid dog snacks that are high in calories. Treats should only be 10% of a dog’s daily food intake.
Rawhide should be treated with caution - it does soften when chewed, but small pieces can break off which may block your dog’s airway and choke him.
Human foods such as chocolate, onions or members of the onion family such as leeks or garlic, dairy products from cows or yeast dough should not be given to dogs, nor should dogs be given alcohol
Good treats that can be given to dogs include:
Vegetables including baby carrots, pumpkin and sweet potato. Small pieces of broccoli and cauliflower can be fed raw if your dog likes it. Slices of sweet red pepper will also be enjoyed.
Fruit including apple slices (but never the core or seeds), banana, berries and watermelon. Try offering frozen treats which are especially nice on a hot day.
Whole frozen sardines may be appreciated by your dog
Brown rice or quinoa can be a nice treat. It is also good for dogs with upset stomachs.
Small smear of peanut butter as long as it does not contain xylitol (remember those calories)
Treating your dog does not need to be food-based. Dogs love to have your attention, a fuss, a walk, to learn new tricks and praise. These ways of rewarding your dog will encourage him, but will also avoid piling on the pounds, which is not good for any of us.