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Giving Your Pet Treats

January 15 2023

The holidays are officially over. For many of us, December is a time to let go of our diets, and enjoy some yummy seasonal foods. Then, come January, it’s back on the wagon. Of course, our animal companions also enjoy having special snacks. There’s no reason not to indulge Fluffy and Fido a bit, but you do need to take care to stick with safe options. Here, a local Carmel Valley, CA vet offers some advice on giving your furry friend treats.

Choose Healthy Options

Many of our four-legged pals get extra cute when they notice that we have bacon, sausage, or other fatty meats. It’s fine to offer Fido and Fluffy small amounts of these snacks now and then, but you definitely don’t want to go overboard. Most types of plain, cooked meat, fish, or poultry are fine, though you’ll need to remove the skin, bones and fat. Limit organ meat: it’s only safe to eat occasionally. 

Don’t Go Crazy

It’s easy to go overboard when giving your furry best friend treats. Fido and Fluffy are both very, very good at getting us to pamper them. Treats should only make up about 5-10 percent of their daily caloric intake. Steel yourself against that adorably sad stare and those plaintive meows!

Make Fido Work

This one is for the dogs, though if you can get Fluffy to do tricks, go for it. Having your canine buddy perform for his snacks. This can be a great confidence booster!

Portion It Out

It’s important to track calories. Even giving your furry pal ten calories too much a day can add up to a pound a year. 100 extra calories a day would be a pound a month. That’s a lot for Fido and Fluffy! Use small portions, such as training treats.

Avoid Unsafe Foods

Never give your pet chocolate; alcohol; caffeine; meat on the bone; garlic and onions; grapes or raisins; avocado; nuts; fruit seeds or pips; raw dough; or anything that contains xylitol. Keep in mind that some things are more dangerous than others. For instance, if your canine buddy eats a piece of onion off the floor, he may just get a tummyache. If he eats a grape or raisin, he could go into kidney failure! Ask your vet for more information. 

Our Advice on Giving Your Pet Treats in 2024

How can you avoid overindulging your pet with treats, even when they’re being adorable?

To avoid overindulging your pet with treats, despite their adorable begging, adhere to the guideline that treats should only constitute 5-10% of their daily caloric intake. Use small, low-calorie treats, especially for training or rewarding good behavior. Implementing a routine or schedule for treat-giving can help manage their intake. Similarly, establishing a regular dental care routine, including brushing your dog’s teeth, can help maintain their overall health and well-being. Additionally, consider using healthy options like plain, cooked meats with no added fats or bones and vegetables that are safe for pets. Engage your pet in activities or tricks before giving treats to enhance their value and prevent overfeeding. Remember, consistency and moderation are key to maintaining your pet’s health.

Why should you only give your pet organ meat occasionally?

Organ meat, while nutritious, is very rich in certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A and phosphorus, which can be harmful to your pet in excessive amounts. Overconsumption can lead to vitamin A toxicity and an imbalance in the phosphorus to calcium ratio, potentially causing health issues. Therefore, it’s recommended to feed organ meats as a small part of your pet’s diet, ensuring they receive a balanced intake of nutrients. Occasional inclusion of organ meats can contribute to dietary variety without risking nutrient excesses.

Besides food, what other ways can you reward your pet (especially for training or good behavior)?

Besides food, rewarding your pet can involve various non-food items and activities that they find enjoyable. Positive reinforcement can include extra playtime, favorite toys, petting, or verbal praise. For training or good behavior, you might use a special toy only available during these times, engaging in a preferred game, or providing more one-on-one attention. These rewards can strengthen your bond and offer mental stimulation without the risk of overfeeding. Tailoring these rewards to your pet’s unique preferences can make training sessions more effective and enjoyable for both of you.

Are there specific treats designed to help with your pet’s dental health?

Yes, there are specific treats designed to promote dental health in pets. These treats are formulated to help reduce plaque and tartar buildup through mechanical action as the pet chews, and some contain ingredients that help improve dental health. Look for products that have been approved by veterinary dental organizations, such as those bearing the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of acceptance. However, while these treats can be a helpful part of your pet’s dental care routine, they should not replace regular dental check-ups and teeth cleaning by a veterinarian.

What kind of treats are suitable for overweight pets or those with dietary restrictions?

For overweight pets or those with dietary restrictions, low-calorie treats or those specifically formulated for weight management are suitable. Consider vegetables like carrots or green beans, which are low in calories and high in fiber, offering a healthy alternative without adding excessive weight. Additionally, there are commercially available treats designed for pets with specific dietary needs, such as grain-free or low-fat options. Always consult with a veterinarian to choose treats that align with your pet’s health requirements and to ensure they fit within their overall dietary plan.

Our vet clinic in Carmel Valley, CA is always here to assist you and your furry companion. We offer comprehensive Veterinary Dentistry services to ensure your pet maintains a healthy smile throughout their life. Please feel free to call us anytime for any assistance related to your pet’s health.

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