If you love your dog, you’ll give him treats, simple and short. But aside that, dog treats are extremely important in different aspects of your dog’s life.
Today, we bring you everything you need to know about dog treats. The what, what exactly are these dog treats? The why, why are they so important? When? When should you give your dog treats? And most importantly, how do I go about getting or making some dog treats for my little pooch?
The What: What Are Dog Treats?
Dog treats or biscuits are defined by Wikipedia as a dietary supplement for dogs which resembles a human snack.
Most of the time, these dog treats are dry and hard. Usually shaped as flat bones, so they are enticing to the dog at first sight. The texture of the biscuit helps in the oral hygiene of your dog.
The When: When Should I Give My Dog Treats?
The ideal period to give your dog treats is far and in-between meals. You don’t want to give her when she’s just had a full meal, she might not be too excited about it. You also don’t want to give her when she’s very hungry because she just might bite your fingers.
In-between meals is also a great time to place training. And training time is best to place side by side with treat-giving time.
The Why: Why Should I Give My Dog Treats?
Dog treats are essential in the grooming of dogs. Dog treats go way beyond just showing love to your dog. Giving treats, in fact, become very essential in the following aspects of a dog’s development.
We have always encouraged positive reinforcement stimulus during training. When your dog does something right, always back up such behavior with positive reinforcement — give him treats.
What this does is that it makes the dog recognize what he has just done as good behavior because he received treats. This would, in turn, make him want to do the same behavior next time so as to receive more treats because what dog doesn’t love a good treat?
Aside from positive reinforcements, dog treats are used during training to;
1. Get the dog to a sitting position when teaching the command “sit”. Most of the time when trainers want a dog to learn the “sit” command, they use a treat. They raise that treat above the dogs’ head and navigate until the dog is seated with his nose up high smelling the treat.
2. They are also used to call the dog. When your pup hasn’t fully learned to recognize his name yet, dog treats are a good way to call him to come. Because they love the smell of treats, your dog is most likely to run up to you if you’re holding a treat.
3. Reserving treats are used to show bad behavior.
We all love to give our dogs’ kisses, like, what else are lips meant for? And we’re sure our dogs feel the same way too. However, kissing a dog with stinking breath can be breathtaking, and not in a good way.
Don’t get scared if your pup’s breath begins to smell like a pit. As bad as it smells, the big leap from that to fresh breath might be a small leap after-all. As small a leap as a treat. Yeah, you read right –a treat!
How can something so small can change something so big? Well, would it interest you to know that the bacteria that cause the problem in the first place are smaller than the human eye can see?
Little drops of water, make a mighty ocean, they say. The mighty ocean of fresh breath for your dog’s mouth can easily be created by little drops of dog treats.
Below we explain two dog oral hygiene problems and how a healthy chew can stop or at least reduce them to the barest minimum.
1. Gum And Teeth Health
The various types of dental problems that dogs face include; plaque and tartar.
According to webmd.com, plaque can be described as the formation of saliva, small bacteria, and remnants of food on the teeth.
While tartar refers to a hard brown or yellowish residue on the teeth. Sometimes, it is caused by untreated plaque.
How Can Dog Treats Curb Plaque And Tartar?
Research has shown that dogs who are more likely to chew more, are less likely to have plaque. Keeping this in mind, some manufacturers of dog food increased the diameter of their kibble by 50% and the result was tremendous, led to a 42% reduction in tartar.
The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is the organization that regulates pet products to see if they are healthy enough for dogs. For is to approve dog treats, they must play at least a 10% role in reducing both plaque and tartar.
2. Bad Breath
Bad breath in dogs is often caused by the coagulation of bacteria in the mouth. It is a huge sign that your dog is in need of better dental healthcare.
Together with regular brushing and mouth washing for your dog, some dog treats are formulated to give your dog the best of breaths, much like the way we humans take mints.
However, bad breath in your dog might be a sign of a much worse dental problem. If your dogs’ breath smells and mint dog treats don’t seem to cut it, please see a vet.
The How: How Much Becomes Too Much?
Because of the fear of obesity and unbalanced diet, giving too many treats might just be a health hazard. According to research, your dog’s treats should only contain about 10% of his diet in calories.
Too many treats will lead to an unbalanced diet. And an unbalanced or poor diet can lead to the following:
- Heart failure.
- Growth disorders.
- Kidney disease.
Although poor treat nutrition might not be the only cause for this, it is one thing you should look out for. The reason why most vets always advise to look out for this is that unlike actual food, this one is most likely to be forgotten. Because treats are like snacks and often carry more calories than food, only in smaller quantities, it’s advisable to check when good becomes bad.
The How: Should I Change Treats According To My Dog’s Age?
Well, Dr. Marshall from petMd says you should. Just like humans, the older your dog gets, the less his sugar intake should be. Younger pups also need a lot of calcium and magnesium for their developing bones, while older dogs might suffer from kidney damage with the same amount.
Other scenarios where you should consider switching treats include:
- Your dog has been diagnosed with a disease like diabetes or obesity.
- If your dog is on a medically advised diet.
- Your dog is pregnant or lactating. If she is pregnant or lactating, try switching to a more mineral-filled treat than sugar-filled, so the pups given the proper vitamins they need.
Types of Dental Dog Treats
Rawhide Chews: Rawhide chews are made from the hide of cows or horses, they go a long way to reduce both tartar and plaque (check above for the definition of both). They are in different sizes and shapes.
Dental Biscuits: From various recognized brands, these are dog treats recognized by the VOHC as edible and healthy dog treats.
Dog Chew Toys: Although these are not edible, these go a long way in dental health especially for dogs that chew on edible treats too quickly.
How Do I Make Dog Treats? –Home Recipes
Maybe you’re on a tight budget, perhaps you don’t trust brands out there, or you simply just want to be able to measure every calorie accurately, you can make dog treats right in your kitchen.
There are different recipes for different types of dog treats, just like asking for “human snack recipes” obviously different snacks, different recipes.
However, we’ll be bringing you two of the easiest ones to make with material that are in your kitchen right now.
Let’s dive in:
Fridge Leftover Mix
Open up your refrigerator, chances are you’ll find all you need to make your dog a healthy snack. So, what will you need?
- Vegetables, any except onions.
- Small slices of meat. Dogs love meat, but it is strongly advised not to ever give your dog raw piece, don’t trigger his canine instincts to hunt meat.
- Cut all ingredients to half-inch thick slices.
- Spray with healthy cooking spray.
- Put it into an oven or dehydrator.
- Wait till it dries and then cool.
- Keep in pouch or jar and treat later.
Yogurt-Based Dog Treats
This is one heck of a snack. It is best used to cool your pooch down after one very lengthy and exhausting play or training session.
- Vanilla yogurt (32 ounces).
- Peanut butter (1 cup).
- Put the peanut butter inside a microwave to melt. Note to use a safe bowl.
- Mix the yogurt and the peanut butter you melted.
- Pour into cupcake paper.
- Put into the freezer.
Things To Look Out For When Making Dog Treats
When you’re making dog treats, it is important that you take into consideration the following:
- Your dog’s allergies. Different dogs will react to different things differently. Make sure to take into consideration what your dog doesn’t react well to and find an alternative to it.
- Store your treats in an air-tight jar or container and keep them in the refrigerator.
- Allow your dog treats to thaw for at least 10 minutes before serving your dog.
And about how long you can store your dog treats in the fridge? Well, generally, most treats remain healthy for up to about 6 months in the refrigerator.
However Nicely They Ask, Here Are Some Dog Treats You Should Never Give Your Dog
- Caffeine: Whether contained in coffee or soda, caffeine is very bad for your dog’s health, so, giving him a taste of Starbucks is a bad idea. Caffeine poisoning can cause rapid breathing, restlessness and muscle tremors.
- Ice cream: Not all dogs can, but like humans, some dogs can be lactose intolerant. If you find your dog reacting weirdly to ice-cream, never give him again no matter how cute his eyes get while he’s asking.
Though your dog might be okay with taking any amount of milk he wants, it’s still not advisable to feed him ice cream because it contains a lot of sugar. Excessive intake of ice cream can lead to obesity and should we dare say- type 2 diabetes.
- Chocolate: Sorry if we are sounding like fun-stoppers and party-crashes but your pooch’s health is our main concern. Yes! Chocolate is actually not bad if taken in extremely small dosages. However, it should never be used as a regular treat.
- Alcohol: Do not feed your dog booze. Under no circumstances should your pooch be gulping up some whiskey. While booze has the same effect on your dog’s brain and organs as it does yours, remember their organs are a lot smaller and can tolerate only a very little quantity.
- Gum: Aside from being too sweet, another reason to stop feeding your dog gums is that most gums contain xylitol. Too much of this can cause your dog liver failure.
And the rest of treats you must never feed your dog are stated below:
- Macadamia Nuts.
- Salty food
- Anything your dog is allergic too.
All you need to know about dog treats have been given to you on a platter of gold. Or to put in perspective, all treats on dog treats we gave you today have been given to you on a dog pan, get it? Lol.
It’s been a fun-filled, educative read, hasn’t it? After work is what? You guessed right, treats.
Head on now and get, or at least make, some dog treats. The effects of these dog treat on your dog’s training, morale, and dental health will be tremendous! Don’t commend us, we do it for the love of all things pups!
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