When you feed your pet a treat, you do it because they’re well-behaved, obviously. But above and beyond this, you also want to show them how much you love them. Are you sure you are giving your dog a treat that shows that to them? Do you know how to determine healthy treats from unhealthy treats? Below, we’ll talk about treats and what you need to know about them for your pets’ health and safety!
Are all treats made equal?
Definitely not! Not all treats are made equal, and manufacturers of those treats are not obligated to state that on their packaging. Where human packaging guidelines do have strict requirements, those for pets don’t follow suit.
Some treats are filled with antibiotic-rich protein sources, but others are filled with chemicals, and filler content that do nothing for your dog’s digestive tract or health. Many are laced with sodium and sugar, which can harm your dog’s health.
You can think of many dog treats like you would think of human treats, such as jelly beans or pork rinds. They are horribly bad for your body, but they taste good.
Since our pets are smaller, it takes fewer of these bad treats to cause health problems. You’ll want to stick with healthy treats instead of unhealthy ones, so you can keep giving them to your deserving pet.
What should healthy treats focus on?
So, what are healthy treats going to be focusing on? It’s all about quality ingredients and a focus on your dog’s health, in general. Some of the focal points in reputable dog treats include:
Lean protein: Dogs need a decent amount of protein in their diet, but it should be lean protein to protect their bodies from excess fat. Lean, high-quality protein is your best choice (much like it would be for humans), and it’s perfect when you are looking for a way to add some extra muscle mass and bulk.
Low-fat content: As mentioned, pets shouldn’t have high-fat content. Other than some natural protein fat, or omega-3 fatty acids, they should be restricting fat in their diets. This keeps them trim and lean and also treats the digestive tract right.
Fiber, Vitamin A, etc.: Pets need to get their vitamins and minerals, just like we humans do. Specialist treat makers can hide those cleverly in treats so that pets aren’t even aware that they are eating them!
This is just the tip of the treat iceberg, too. You can get treats specialized to specific health conditions, including diabetes and obesity, kidney issues, puppy’s health growth, seniors’ health aging, etc. Many options out there will enhance your dog and cat’s health and still give them a great taste!
What are the dangers of unhealthy treats?
Our pets rely entirely on us to give them what they need for their diet. They don’t understand that they are eating poor food, so they just suffer. Pets often suffer without us even knowing, to make it even worse. Dangers of eating unhealthy treats include:
- Long-term digestive tract concerns
- Obesity and diabetes
- Premature aging and death
- Joint issues
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Worsening of predisposed health conditions for breeds
As you can see, there are many downsides to your dog or cat not getting a good quality diet. Since pet care can be expensive, particularly vet visits, you’ll want to do whatever you can to help your pet hold onto their health for as long as possible. While these aren’t guarantees to your pet being as healthy as possible, it will help you and them find your way to their best chance.
This cuts down on unnecessary vet bills, helps you understand more about what your pet needs, and, most importantly, gives your pet an excellent quality of life.
How should I make sure I feed my pet healthy treats?
If you want to ensure that you are doing your part to help your dog or cat stay on the right track, then here are some must-know details to help you make better decisions for their sake:
Beware the bargain bin: Bargain bin treats, or marked down treats, often are like the worst junk food would be for humans. If you are considering an affordable option, make extra sure that it is a safe option. Even if it isn’t the best quality dog treat in the world, you should still ensure that it isn’t loaded with bad ingredients that will hurt your dog!
Do your research on brands: The brands of food and treats will be helpful for knowing what you can (and can’t) trust. Focus on details like customer reviews, explanation of the ingredients, and even the pros and cons that you can find. Most trustworthy options will have that information readily available!
Ask a vet or specialist for help: If you feel overwhelmed by the sheer selection (we get it!) ask a specialist to help support you. They can recommend options like specific brands but also explain why a particular type of treat will be best for your pet. It will be a great way to get a professional opinion that focuses on your pet’s medical situation.
Remember the importance of prevention: Preventative health is always better than treating a chronic and painful condition after the fact. Even if your pet is healthy right now, you must keep them this way even as their bodies start to age. Preventative treats and a healthy diet are a huge part of that. Make sure that you pay proper attention to this!
Your cat and dog will enjoy healthy treats as much as they would enjoy unhealthy treats, mostly because these pets are not (that) fussy when it comes to what you offer them! So, ensure that every little morsel is as healthy as possible for their long-term health.
Healthy treats are a key part of your dog’s health profile, though many pet parents tend to focus more on the quality of their food. Treats often make up a considerable part of your pet’s day, diet-wise, so healthy treating is vital to take seriously!