Should You Feed Your Dog Treats?

Dog ‘treats’ are huge business and are promoted by the manufacturers as something a bit ‘special’ to give your dog. However, there are a lot of things to consider before automatically using them.

Many dog owners use treats as a way to reward their dog for good behaviour or just because they think it’s a nice thing to do. After all, it gives a lot of pleasure to the owner when we see our dog enjoying something. Treats can also be used as part of a game or for training.

But there are a number of factors that suggest that not only are treats unnecessary, they may actually be harmful to your dog. Before you automatically go out and put a doggy treat pack into your shopping basket, consider the following issues.

Firstly, most dog treats contain quite poor ingredients that have been linked with allergies, poor digestion, skin problems, runny stools and hyperactivity. These problem ingredients can include beef products, sugars and preservatives. Just as we know with human ‘junk’ food, something that is designed to taste good may not be good for you. And it doesn’t take much to interfere severely with your dog’s health.

The safety of dog treats really comes into question when you consider just how many treat products have been recalled by the manufacturers due to reports of dogs becoming seriously ill after eating them. Many of these contain ingredients sourced from Asia which have caused huge problems when used in pet foods as well.

Secondly, there are alternatives to treats that a dog will enjoy just as much but which will be a lot healthier. In fact, the best ‘treat’ to give your dog? One or two kibbles of a high quality dried food. Even if it is the pet’s ‘normal’ diet, he really isn’t going to be less happy with the taste of it or see it as any ‘less’ of a treat.

Of course the key point here is a “high quality” kibble, one rich in meat and in the foods a dog naturally enjoys. Low grade food based on cereals and with a low proportion of meat are not particularly appetising so aren’t going to be a thrill for your dog. Of course, if the food contains sugars or flavourings that entice the dog to eat it, but are harmful, then you are simply creating the same problems as with a commercial “dog treat” anyway.

Pro Pac makes an ideal treat, that dogs love and which is healthy for them. Even if that is all your dog normally eats, it’s still going to welcome a couple of extra kibbles from time to time!

How to Maintain Your Dog’s Ideal Weight

Obesity in dogs (as with humans) is becoming a major problem worldwide. It’s a direct contributor to an alarming rise in health issues such as arthritis and respiratory problems and a decrease in average lifespan. But keeping your dog at its ideal weight is really not that difficult. It comes down to three basic things:

      • better food (less ‘junk’ food)
      • smaller portions and
      • exercise

It’s no different than with humans, really, although with dogs it’s a lot easier. A dog is not going to complain about its food (unless you let it) or about too much exercise. Of course all these decisions come down to being your responsibility as the dog’s owner.

One of the most important things to look for in a food is to make sure it is high in protein and fat. The higher the protein, the lower the carbs and the better and more efficient will be the energy consumption.

With a high fat level, the dog will be more satisfied and less hungry with a smaller amount of food. If you feed a dog a high carb and low fat/protein food it will not only tend to process the energy less efficiently but it will stay hungrier. This can lead to scavenging and even eating it’s own poop.

If you compare a couple of well known brands you will see what I mean:

Pro Pac Adult Chunk is 26% protein and 15% fat. With a high amount of chicken meat (protein) and natural chicken fat your dog will be getting a lot of the right energy.

Now look at Tux. Tux Original has only 14% protein and 6% fat. The main ingredient is “cereals and/or cereal by-products”, high in carbs and with a very limited amount of meat. Quite a big difference, I’m sure you will agree.

With a high protein/fat and low carb food such as Pro Pac you can feed your dog a lot less. In fact, many dog owners feel a bit ‘mean’ when they look at how much Pro Pac they feed their dog each day. But that leads to the other important point about keeping your dog at its ideal weight: keep the portions small, and smaller than you think the dog needs.

In deciding whether or not to increase the amount you feed, only use the dog’s condition as a guide. If it starts to get too thin feed more; if it puts on too much weight feed less. You will soon get to know the ideal portion size.

Don’t use your dog’s apparent hunger as a sign to feed more. Remember, if you are feeding a low protein/low fat/high carb food it’s going to be hungry more of the time anyway, because it simply isn’t feeling satisfied.

Pro Pac does produce a Low Fat formula and this has been very effective in reducing weight for very obese dogs. However, we would only recommend it as a short-term solution to get a lot of weight off quickly. If your dog only has a bit to lose or you think has a problem keeping the weight off, feed it a well-balanced formula and just reduce the portion sizes.

There are so many parallels between humans and dogs when it comes to weight issues and it all comes down to the same things – eat good quality food, get rid of the junk foods, eat less and exercise.

If only it were as easy for us as it is for dogs…….