What to Look for in Pet Treats for Dogs

Pet treats are a healthy and effective way to train your dog, show positive re-enforcement, and reward your pet for good behavior. Choosing the right pet treat, however, is an essential aspect of dog nutrition as some owners can forget that treats may have an effect on a dog's health, weight and behavior. Giving too many dog treats can also be a problem, so finding the right balance between nutrition and handing out rewards is essential. Treats can be used for a variety of reasons and your choice will depend on what you are trying to accomplish with your dog.

Choosing Pet Treats

Pet stores often feature a large variety of pet treats to choose from and it can be difficult finding the right treat for your dog. Homemade treats are a great option for dogs because owners will know exactly what ingredients and nutrients the dog is getting. Owners can also follow these tips when looking for pet treats for dogs:

  • Remember that each treat contains a certain number of calories, so administer them sparingly.
  • Always check the nutrition label and look for quality ingredients, avoiding fillers, artificial coloring and preservatives.
  • Chicken treats are often healthier due to lower levels of fat, sugars and preservatives.
  • Other healthy options include green beans and baby carrots or carrot sticks.
  • Keep treats to fewer than 10% of your dog's daily nutritional intake.
  • Ask your vet about the best treats for your dog if he is on a diet, special medication or other treatments.

5 Uses for Pet Treats

Treats for pets come in a wide range of flavors, sizes and consistencies, and can therefore be used for different purposes.

  1. Rawhides and bones from pet stores can keep your dog busy for a long stretch of time and prevent boredom, which may also prevent destructive behavior if the dog is left home alone for an extended period of time.
  2. For training, small and soft treats are ideal because they take less time to eat, have fewer calories and can be easily hidden in your hand or pocket during training sessions.
  3. Rewarding your dog after cleaning his ears or trimming nails can also be accomplished with treats to encourage and reinforce proper behavior.
  4. Treats should not be the only reward during training or to encourage good behavior; praise is also an effective, and healthy, reward method. By using various rewards, your dog will stay motivated and interested.
  5. When giving your dog medication, offering a treat can also help here. Cheese, peanut butter or store-bought treats can be helpful when trying to get a dog to swallow a pill. Though they may not be the healthiest snack, these can be a great aid when used in moderation.

Avoiding Table Scraps

Avoid table scraps in favor of healthier treats, either from a store or your own home. Table scraps as pet treats can give your dog digestive problems and lead to bad habits like stealing food from tables or people, begging, sifting through garbage, picky eating habits and poor nutrition.