A few recent cases got me to thinking about treats. In that, we need to be more discerning with why and when we treat, and especially what’s in those treats. With 60% of cats and over 50% of dogs overweight, indulgence of treats is often blamed. Which brought about the recommended limit of 10% of the day’s caloric intake to avoid excess calories and imbalancing diet nutrients. In my experience pet parents are aware of their role in overindulgence, evidenced by a client’s recent comment, “It’s not my dog’s fault, it’s me you have to train on restriction!” But what they’re not aware of is their pet’s daily caloric intake. We’re not advised of the importance and which foods have the highest calories. (Hot tip: dry food, volume for volume, is higher in calories.)

But weight gain isn’t the only problem, GI issues can also be blamed on treats, both in quantity (eating too many in a short time frame) and the ingredients. Just as with pet foods, ingredients listed on the front of the package can be misleading. Oh, those ingredients are in there, just not in the expected order or amounts. Be sure to confirm ALL ingredients are approved for your pet. Ingredients to watch for include an abundance of plant proteins and carbohydrates, sugars, emulsifiers, and additives.

For those of us who can’t resist those puppy dog eyes or the tapping of a feline paw, fresh foods and freeze-dried foods can be healthy alternatives: meats for cats and meats and veggies for dogs. With a cautious reminder, not all human treats are safe for our four-legged. For an in-depth reference: Foods toxic to dogs and cats | Purina Institute. A number of cases over the years have taught me your dog or cat may have their own intolerances, such the cat who developed a life-threatening gag response to fish or the puppy who suffers with bloody diarrhea from as little as two pieces of plain popcorn. You’ll not hear me say stop the treats, but we may need to find more appropriate options for your companion.

To learn more about calculating your pet’s daily calorie needs, check out this link  or email me: https://www.petobesityprevention.org/pet-caloric-needs

If you are interested in making your own, try these recipes: https://terrigrow.com/fun-treat-recipes/

A new commercial fave of mine for both dogs and cats are Green Juju Whole Food Bites, especially the Bison with a bit of dark greens for nourishing antioxidants. (Yes, cats can have a touch of dark green veggies similar to what would be in their prey’s stomach!)

© Terri Grow, 2023

Terri Grow writes and speaks on pet health and welfare, working with veterinarians, trainers, shelters and manufacturers to empower canine and feline health through diets, herbal therapies, supplements and environmental adjustments.