When selecting a dog treat to reward your puppy, it’s important you are choosing the right treat for your puppy that will help meet the different nutritional needs they have compared to an older dog.

We tend to use a lot of treating to train puppies, so they are often being used a lot more than you might for an older dog. Therefore, not only do we want to give them something that provides some of the extra vitamins they need, but we also need to be wary of how much we are using.

Puppies have a lot of energy  and they burn it up a lot quicker than adult dogs.   This is why we feed them more frequently early on and a diet that has different protein and fat levels and other vitamins and minerals to  make sure they are getting the right nutrients to support growing bones and bodies.

Calcium and phosphorus are really important for example, so we need to make sure their food, including their treats, contributes nutritionally in a positive way to provide those extra calories and vitamins they need.

There are so many options available it can be tough to know what to choose. What are some of the key considerations?

  • When choosing the right treat for your puppy you’ve got to find what works for you and your pup given there are so many different brand philosophies, flavours, productions standards and prices.
  • Quality of the ingredients and product should be paramount, as is considering their different stages of development.
  • Talk to your vet to understand their digestive capacities as they grow, nutritional requirements and dental needs.
  • Puppies can already have, or may develop, their own individual preferences for food format.   So, the size, smell, taste and texture that might appeal to one puppy, or to your adult dog, may not necessarily suit your new puppy.  Therefore, choosing the right treat for your puppy to get them to respond best in training for example may require a bit of trial and error.
  • Treats should complement the good stuff that’s going on in their bowls, rather than dilute or distract from the delivery of a complete and balanced diet. The Vitapet milky sticks are formulated especially for puppies and can be easily broken up so you don’t over treat.   The chicken tenders are also a good tasty option if broken up into very small pieces.
  • It can be really easy to over-treat puppies, so the rule of thumb people should keep in mind, which applies to adult dogs too, is that treats should make up no more than 10% of their diet.   If you are treating your puppy then you need to account for that amount of calories when calculating their total daily calorie intake.
  • Unfortunately we are seeing an an epidemic of overweight and obese pets, so this can’t be emphasized enough.  Choosing the right treat for your puppy should take this into consideration so that you choose one where you can easily identify the ingredients and nutritional values on the packet and are selecting one that will assist you in monitoring how much you are actually feeding your puppy each day.

It is important that you show your love and build your relationship with your pet responsibly, and treating plays a role in building that relationship.  Just remember the old cliche…everything in moderation!


Dr Lee Danks is a qualified veterinarian working with an interest in pet nutrition.  He has worked in private veterinary practice and now works with VitaPet in Australia as a nutritional expert.