Healthy Dog Treats or Tricks?
In the spirit of Halloween, our fitness post today is about tricks or treats. Specifically, dog treats and how they can sabotage or support a healthy body.
Popularity of Dog Treats
There is no question that dog treats are commonly used by dog owners. According to the American Pet Products Association, treats account for 21% of the average dog owner’s food outlays. It is therefore easy to see how choosing the wrong dog treats, even if you are diligent with your dog food choices, can easily sabotage your pet’s diet.
Some Dog Treats and Tricks
We somewhat randomly pulled some data on a few popular dog treats so that we could compare the calories and ingredients of the ‘tricks’ (i.e., not very healthy ingredients) and the ‘treats’ (i.e., healthier ingredients). A summary of these treats is shown in the table below.
Kcals / treat
First 5 Ingredients
Total Number of Ingredients
|Beneful||Snackin’ Slices Dog Snacks – Pea Pod||22||Chicken By-Product Meal;Wheat Flour;Ground Yellow Corn;Sugar;Corn Gluten Meal||22|
|Cesar Treats||Filet Mignon Flavor||10||Wheat Flour;Rice Flour;Corn Grits;Sugar;Animal Fat (Preserved With Bha/Bht)||32|
|Eukanuba||Large Breed Adult Maintenance Treats||34||Wheat Flour;Chicken By-Product Meal;Dried Beet Pulp;Natural Chicken Flavor;Brewers Dried Yeast||39|
|Fresh Pet Dog Joy||Beef||12||Beef;Chicken;Ground Oats;Beef Broth;Salt||6|
|I and Love and You||Nothin But Bison||4||Bison Liver||1|
|Sojos||Peanut Butter Honey Dog Treats||14||Rye Flour;Oat Bran;Peanuts;Peanut Butter;Honey||7|
Some of the most pertinent observations from this small data set include:
- Healthier treats contain far fewer ingredients than the less healthy treats.
- The healthier treats all contain a named real protein source. The less healthy treats do not.
- The healthier treats do not contain wheat or corn. The less healthy treats include these cheaper fillers.
Overall, it’s pretty obvious by looking at the abbreviated ingredients which group of dog treats are more appropriate for your dog. (Note- you can look up the full ingredients of these in the SlimDoggy dog food database).
Dog Treat Calories Can Make or Break a Feeding Program
With respect to calories, the caloric value of the ‘tricks’ in this example is higher on average than the ‘treats’. However, you can’t judge a treat by its calories alone so don’t use that as your decision criteria when choosing a treat. Instead, use the calorie values in your chosen treats to adjust your dog’s overall feeding program accordingly. For example, if you give your dog 5 of the Fresh Pet Beef treats a day, which translates to 60 extra calories per day that either has to be burned off or his regular feeding adjusted.
A 15 lb. adult dog walking at 2.5 miles per hour would have to walk for 165 minutes to burn those 60 calories. That is more than 2 ½ hours of walking a day. Do you have that extra time?
When it comes to choosing dog treats, avoid the ‘tricks’ and choose the ‘treats’. Make sure to look at the ingredients first to choose treats that are best for your pet. Once you have made your choice, don’t forget to account for those extra daily calories. You can do so by increasing your dog’s exercise time or intensity, reducing their daily food portions accordingly, or both. The end result will be a more fit and more healthy dog.
Trick or Treat? Happy Halloween.Please enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts To Dog with Love and My GBGV Life. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below - lots of fun fitness tips and advice!