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  • Kelley Post

Choosing the Right Dog Treat

Your dog, you want to show them your love, and what better way than to feed them a delicious treat! What do you give your dog that would be in addition to their regular nutritional food? Pet nutritionists tell us that dog treats should be no more than 10% of a dog’s daily diet. Feeding more than 10%, especially on a regular basis can result in obesity and ongoing health problems.

Kelley and Larry Post Dogs Penny, Peachy and Chewy Photo by Kelley Post

A 20 lb dog, depending on his activity level will only burn about 700 calories a day. The average grocery store dog biscuit is about 125 calories per biscuit. Two or three biscuits would add up in a hurry.

Table scraps may seem like a harmless way to give your dog something extra that he may be begging for already. However, most people’s food tends to be high in fat and sugar and can mess up a dog’s digestive system. When your dog eats people’s food, it can ruin their appetite for nutritionally balanced dog food that they should be eating. So, when your dog suddenly doesn’t care for his regular nutritionally balanced pet food, ask yourself and the other members of the household, what have you been feeding them for treats?

There are many, many different types of dog treats on the market, and trying to pick out something that is good for your dog and that your dog is going to like can be challenging.

How to Read the Label

When you are picking out a treat, you need to know what to look for and what to avoid.

What to Look for:

• A short list of ingredients

• High-quality whole food that is listed first

• Local and Canadian-based ingredients

• Natural preservatives vitamin C and E (mixed tocopherols)

• Natural humectants, that is the stuff that holds the treats together and adds the moisture to the chewy treats, like molasses and vegetable glycerin

What to Avoid:

• Sweeteners and salt

• Long ingredient lists

• Chemicals and artificial flavors

• Chemical preservatives such as butylated-hydroxy anisole (BHA) butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and ethoxyquin

• Chemical humectants

There are many different types of treats and different reasons to choose them. The size of your dog is important. A big dog such as our Saint Bernard, Penny, loves to chew on a large, long-lasting bully stick. This is a single ingredient, high protein beef muscle with no preservatives. Other hard chewing treats such as Greenies and other dental chews are made from plant-based digestible material and this can help to scrape the plaque off the dog’s teeth.

Single-ingredient animal parts can provide high protein, extremely flavorful food for finicky dogs and sensitive stomachs. Some of these can include lamb lung, beef liver, duck heart and antlers to name a few.

Crunchy treats can come in several different varieties, and this is where you should pay close attention to the ingredient list watching for calories and chemicals, and no salt, or sweeteners. Whole wheat flour and oats are a good base. There are also grain-free options.

Soft and chewy treats are excellent for training and smaller dogs. These treats have a higher moisture content and contain humectants, and some can be rather smelly. These are easier to carry out on a walk and good to have on hand for the food-motivated dog. An example of these would be the Kettle Craft varieties for dogs and cats.

Dehydrated or Freeze-Dried meat treats can also be great training treats and good for smaller dogs as well. These are usually 100% protein with no additives. Some examples would be cod skins, salmon skins, chicken, and liver from Granville Island Pet Treatery and One Only Treats, both out of BC. It is important to get this kind of treat from a reputable source. Fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes and apples can be made at home using a dehydrator or oven.

Some human foods can be used as treats as well such as a carrot or other vegetables. Some dogs like certain vegetables while others won’t touch them. Peanut butter can be used as a treat, but use only natural peanut butter that does not include xylitol which is an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs. Items to avoid are onions, grapes, raisins, chocolate, and caffeine.

There are many reasons to share treats with our dogs. Training your dog with treats is a common way to encourage your dog to follow directions and be of good behavior.

Rewarding your dog with treats can be highly motivational. A long-lasting treat can fill their time and encourage the dog to chew on an appropriate item instead of a chair leg or other inappropriate item. Cleaning their teeth with treats can be beneficial to their oral health but cannot replace regular brushing of the dogs’ teeth. There are also many treats that could add to the functional food that the dog consumes. If you have a finicky eater or need to hide some medication maybe a treat would be the answer.

If you have a pet-related story that we could share in the VoxAir contact Kelley at

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