Our furry friends are an extension of our family and we delight in giving them treats and seeing them enjoy themselves. We all love a good treat ourselves right? A little bit of cake, a bag of crisps – so why can’t our fur babies have something tasty too? They definitely can! Here are some tips to ensuring treats are both tasty and safe for your pet.
Check Human Food Is Safe
There are lots of foods that are fine for us but definitely not for our pets. Always be careful and check before giving your pet any human food.
Many foods can be too high in fat and cause tummy upset or may even be seriously toxic and can cause irreparable damage to their organs.
Sometimes our animals have allergies just like us and humans food can cause very scary side effects. Even healthy food like fruit and veg isn’t always safe.
Give Dental Treats Sparingly
Keeping our pet’s teeth clean is essential for their health, however dental treats aren’t always the best way to do this. Often dental treats contain a lot of fat and can add to your pet’s waistline while not actually doing much for their teeth. Use them sparingly.
Puppy & Kitten Appropriate Treats
While they are young our pets have very different needs when it comes to treats. Their baby teeth, although very sharp, can be very fragile and cannot handle the same pressure as adult teeth. For this reason it is important to ensure treats are softer and suitable for puppies and kittens.
Giving bones and hard treats can cause fractures in the baby teeth and cause a lot of pain if the nerve becomes exposed and sometimes even requires the tooth to be removed.
It is very common for people to give their pets yoghurt or milk as a treat. Unfortunately our pets are not able to digest dairy very well and it can affect their digestive system giving them stomach ache or even diarrhoea.
It is best to avoid dairy all together and buy specific dog or cat milk if you like to give this as a treat
Check Treats Won’t Impact Other Health Concerns
Often when our pets have certain health problems they require particular food and nutrition to help support them properly. Treats can often get in the way with this and cause unwanted issues for our pets. It is important that treats are suitable for your pet’s condition as well as their main diet
Don’t Treat Excessively
It is important to ensure we don’t give too many treats – some pets will eat all their treats as well as their normal dinner and start to gain weight.
Excess weight gain can cause health problems such as joint pain, diabetes and breathing problems. Other animals will eat less of their normal food when they are full of treats and this can be equally as bad! While they won’t gain weight, their nutrition is being affected. Complete pet food contains everything they need to stay healthy, whereas treats do not so they could be missing out on essential nutrients that they need.
It is important to give treats in moderation.
Treats As A Training Aid
While we are training our pets it is important to provide rewards so they know when they do something right, however this can lead to using excessive amounts of treats. Use small breakable treats or treats they can lick so they still get a reward for doing well but the reward is smaller in volume. They don’t mind if the treat is tiny, I promise and if they like toys, often a toy can be used as a reward too.
Time Treats Appropriately
The timing of when we give treats is also important to consider. Often inappropriate timing of treats can accidentally lead to rewarding unwanted behaviours and confuse our pets. It is important to reward for behaviour we enjoy so time treats carefully and if not during training always ask for a command your pet knows, such as sit, before they receive the treat.
For more information about any of these points or any concerns you have about treats please make an appointment to see our clinic nurse for a free chat.