Canine Health and Nutrition Information from Dr Ken Tudor.

Are Homemade Dog Treats Better for Dogs?

Ken Tudor - Thursday, April 07, 2016

Homemade, not necessarily betterWith all of the recalls and warnings about dog treats, many dog parents are making their own. Finding a delicious sounding homemade dog treat recipe online and then using quality ingredients you can trust certainly should produce a quality dog treat. But homemade dog treats may not be healthier for your dog.

Dog Treat Recipe Don’t Have Calorie information
Last year I randomly collected 24 homemade dog treat recipes from the internet. As typical with treat recipes, no information about calories were provided. Fortunately I was able to determine the total recipe count using the USDA food database. Only 8 or 33% of the recipes suggested how many treats it made. My calculations for those recipes found a range of 20-136 calories per treat. These are high calorie treat recipes.
The 16 remaining recipes gave no serving size information at all. And sure you could divide the recipe in any number of ways. But if you are not able to use the USDA database to determine the total number of calories, you have no idea how many calories are in each treat or piece of treat you give your dog.
Calories Matter
60% of all pets worldwide are overweight. Dog treats are the fastest growing segment of the dog food industry. Dogs don’t need treats, but human owners sure need to give their dogs treats. It is not rocket surgery to figure out why dogs are getting heavier. In fact when I ask my veterinary clients about their dog’s diet, they generally are pretty accurate with the dog food. They cringe when we talk about treats. Sometimes the daily treats have the same daily calories as the dog food!
Treats Deprive Your Dog of Proper Nutrition
In order to maintain your dog’s perfect body fitness, you need to subtract every treat calorie from your dog’s daily calorie needs. Unlike his dog food, treats are not nutritionally balanced. To keep your dog fit you are trading nutritionally inferior calories for superior ones. As the percentage of treat calories increase, your dog receives fewer and fewer healthier calories. Current recommendations are to feed only 10% of daily calories as treats. To me this still makes no sense because your dog is only receiving 90% of its daily total nutritional needs.
What Do We Recommend?
1) Vegetables – Because dogs don’t chew, the few calories in vegetables pass through the intestines non-absorbed. Broccoli, carrots, squash, cauliflower, etc. are virtually calorie free.
2) Fruits – Dogs do not chew fruits either so most of the calories also pass straight through the intestines. But the fructose in melons, soft berries, bananas, etc. is readily absorbed so use fruits sparingly. Limit it them to 1/8 cup for small dogs, ¼ cup for medium dogs and 1/3 cup for large dogs. Dried fruits are very high in calories and should be avoided. Grapes and raisins are toxic.
3) Dog Food – Use pieces of your dog’s kibble or canned food as treats. For homemade dog food do the same. Just make sure to measure the amount used as treats and subtracted it from the regular meals to maintain total daily calories.




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