To Treat or Not to Treat?
By Brooke Sloate
Who doesn’t like treats? Let’s face it, we ALL do!
For us, there are many treat choices from salty to sweet like - chips, nuts, cookies, ice cream, trail mix, fruit…there’s LOTS to choose from! But WE know that all ‘treats’ are not created equal…not for us humans, and certainly not for our pets.
Take for example an apple vs. a Twinkie – both are ‘treats’, but are vastly different in nutritional value. There’s no comparison! An apple is full of nutrition and has many health benefits, whereas the Twinkie is high in sugar and carbs. This is an extreme example, but you get the picture.
Now let’s talk about treating our pets. Dogs and cats love treats, it’s a fact. And we like giving our pets treats probably as much or more than our four-legged friends like getting them.
Treats can be used for training, as a reward, as a way for us to show our love…and yes, they can be used for bribery. Pet owners give all kinds of treats to their pets, some give table food and things with lots of salt and fat that make them tasty.
We feel good about giving our pets treats, but we need to make sure that everything that goes into our pets has nutritional value – that means the food, the supplements and the treats.
There are many kinds of treats to buy for your pets that are used for different ‘treating occasions’. There are different forms - like biscuits or crunchy treats, meaty treats, soft & chewy treats, bones or rawhide, jerky and functional treats like dental sticks.
Within these forms there are different ‘types’ like training treats – which are very small treats with few calories so you can reward your BFF often; and long-lasting treats referred to as ‘occupiers’, which are the kind you give your dog when you need some “alone” time. And within each of these “types” of treats there are a multitude of flavor varieties.
So what are some good choices, since we know not all treats are created equal. How can we know when treating is harming our pets.
Read the labels…
Caloric value is a top concern. For example, an average 30 lb. dog needs around 900 calories daily. That’s calories from everything they ingest, including their treats. And the calories in treats can really add up, depending on the choices you make.
You can choose to feed your pets high calorie treats with little nutritional value, or, you can make a healthier choice and feed them high quality, high protein, low-carb meaty treats that have much fewer calories.
How do I find the best treats for my pet?
Read the ingredients and look for meaty, high-protein treats, like freeze dried and dry roasted, with high- quality meat sources as well as fruits and vegetables. Minimally processed treats are best, so all the nutritional goodness stays in them. There should be no by-product meals, no fillers, no corn wheat or soy, and no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
Remember, many dogs and cats are overweight or obese, so we need to be sure we don’t overfeed them, and that includes over treating. Everything you feed your pets should be nutritious and add value to their diet.
To treat or not to treat? TREAT!
You can and should go ahead and give your pets treats. Just make good, healthy choices for them.
Tips for using meaty treats in your pet’s daily diet.
· Break up freeze-dried meaty treats and use them as a “topper” on your dog or cat food
· If you like to “treat” often, or when training your dog, or treating your cat, break them up into smaller pieces so you get 4-5 small “treats” out of one larger one, so you don’t pack on the calories.
At pawTree® we are committed to providing pet parents with a line of premium products to help pets thrive. Look for products from pawTree that include the recommended ingredients listed above, including a full line of meaty freeze-dried and dry-roasted treats using a variety of protein sources, and of course, made in the USA.
Brooke Sloate, Director of Product Development at pawTree LLC, is passionate about solving problems for pets and creating products that truly make a difference to pet parents.
With over 20 years of experience in the pet industry working for a variety of pet companies prior to pawTree®, including Nature's Variety®, Hill’s®, Mars®, Petmate®, Applica® and Sergeant's®, Brooke has developed a wide range of innovative pet products including pet food, treats, and pet accessories.
Brooke enjoys the unconditional love of her family of Shih Tzus and responds by spoiling them every chance she gets!