Dogs just love treats and we just love giving them to our dogs! However, not all dog treats are created equal.

It can be hard to know though what is best for our pooch when it comes to dog treats and what we should be avoiding.

Firstly, it’s important to choose a treat that has been made for dogs. Some human foods are poisonous to dogs or are high in fat and rich in calories so it’s better to avoid them in the first place, e.g: chocolate, grapes, biscuits and cake.

Read the label

It’s important to make sure that the dog treats are safe and have good quality ingredients. Buying a treat that has plenty of information on the packaging is a good start.

Make sure there is an ingredient panel and look to see that meat is the first ingredient. Treats that are low in fat are also more likely to be lower in calories.

Dog treats and weight control

Overweight and obese dogs is the biggest preventable health problem in dogs, exactly the same as people in Australia. Dog owners don’t think of dog treats as food, but they add calories and don’t always add any nutritional value.

It’s really important if you treat every day, to limit the amount of treats you feed to about 10% of the total diet. This will help keep your dog lean, but also make sure you don’t unbalance the total diet.

Feeding a good quality commercial pet food and limiting your dog treats will ensure that your dog gets all the vitamins and minerals they need in the right amounts.

Quality meat and processes is important

Meat as the first ingredient is always a good thing to look for, and it helps to know that there are rigorous quality control processes in place when the treats are made.

The VitaPet Chicken Tenders are an example of this. Made from real chicken breast fillets in a human grade factory, natural antioxidants and preservatives such as rosemary and vitamin E are used to maintain product freshness. As they are 97% chicken breast the fat content is only 1%.

Puppies and treats

New pet owners may be tempted to give their puppies loads of treats, especially as they start to train them.

It’s even more important with puppies to make sure you don’t overload them with treats or they may not get the nutrition they need for healthy bones and joints from everything they eat.

Upset tummies are also more common in puppies and they only have baby teeth, so some of the treats designed for adult dogs may be too hard for them to chew.

Just to be safe it’s a good idea to have a look at your treat pack and make sure that they can be used for puppies.

For more information about the VitaPet treat range visit www.VitaPet.com.au


Dr Sue Kelly is a veterinarian interested in nutrition. She has completed further study in small animal medicine and worked in private veterinary practice, Murdoch University Veterinary School and the pet food industry.