Dog owners spend enormous amounts of money on dog treats thinking that they provide special needs. In fact, most treats provide large amounts of calories with no particular nutritional or health benefit. Dental treats are the worst with some adding 250-280 calories per treat without reducing tarter build-up. Many owners pay a premium for treats that contain pumpkin, fruit, spices and herbs that owners associate with better health. There is nothing magical about these treats.
Why not offer your dog raw fruits and vegetables as treats?
Raw vegetables like broccoli, carrots, beans, cauliflower, peppers, and sprouts are often readily accepted as treats and rewards. Raw vegetables add virtually no calories to the diet so they can be fed in large quantities. Bananas, apples, melons, pumpkin and berries are even more readily accepted as “sweet” treats.
Dried fruits are particularly sweet. Although they add more calories to the diet than raw vegetables, fruits are generally much lower in calories than most commercial treats. Fruits, especially dried fruit, should be restricted. 1/3-1/2 of a cup for a 50-lb dog can be used as a guide. This means dogs weighing less than 10-lb should be given only about 2-4 pieces of fruit daily.
Grapes, raisins, garlic and onions are toxic to dogs and should be avoided.
Human cookies, candy, meat, ice cream and cheese should also be avoided as they are extremely rich in calories and may create avoidance toward the more nutritionally balanced dog food.
Dr. Ken Tudor,
THE DOG DIETITIAN