Can Treats Be Part of Your Pet's Healthy Diet?

Our pets love treats. And we love giving them treats. Giving treats to our pets is a way we show affection and reward them for good behavior. It’s a way we bond with our dogs and cats, which is always a good thing.

However, giving treats can easily get out of hand, especially when our pets begin to expect it and guilt you into giving them more with “the look”. It’s not uncommon for some owners to toss two, three, or four treats at a time to their pets without thinking about it. Almost 60% of pets are overweight, and much of the pet obesity epidemic can be attributed to overfeeding treats.

If your pet is on a therapeutic diet, treats can pose a greater problem. Continuing to feed your pet the same treats as before can compromise the effectiveness of a prescribed diet. For example, certain treats may be high in calories and interfere with a weight loss plan for your cat or dog.

Obviously, one option is to stop giving treats altogether. But realistically, this is a challenging solution. A better option is to discuss best practices for treat-giving with your veterinarian who knows your pet’s medical history and nutritional needs.

Here are four healthy treat ideas to discuss with your veterinarian.

The 10% Rule

For any pet, treats and snacks should not make up more than 10% of total daily calories. More calories than this can result in weight gain and affect the success of their primary diet. Not sure how many treats this means? Ask your veterinarian, who can make a recommendation based on the types of treats your pet likes along with your pet’s weight and activity level.

Try Veggies and Fruit

Skip the store-bought snacks in favor of good old vegetables and fruit. Try baby carrots, broccoli, banana slices, and apple slices (no seeds). Just keep in mind that there are some fruits and veggies that dogs and cats shouldn’t eat, including things like grapes and onions. Here’s a list of healthy fruits and veggies for pets along with what to steer clear of.

Add Non-Food Treats

Reducing the number of food treats your pet gets doesn’t mean reducing all “treats” when you think of them in a different way. A treat can be anything that brings joy to your pet’s life, such as going for a walk, playing in the yard, or learning a fun new trick. If there’s one thing your pet wants more than a snack, it’s your time and attention.

Align Therapeutic Diets and Treats

If your pet is on a therapeutic diet or following a special nutritional plan, it’s important to make sure that their treats follow the same dietary guidelines as their dry or wet food. Royal Canin has introduced a line of treats that are specifically formulated to pair with their therapeutic diets and support the dietary requirements of pets on those diets. Therapeutic treats help you show love to your pets and reward them while helping you manage their health condition.

Royal Canin therapeutic treats are available in four formulations for both cats and dogs:

  • Urinary -- Supports a healthy urinary tract
  • Gastrointestinal -- Specific nutrients to support digestive health
  • Hydrolyzed Protein -- Supports the health of cats and dogs with food sensitivities
  • Satiety -- Low in calories to support a healthy weight

And Royal Canin’s Original Treats are healthy treats for healthy dogs and cats of any size or life stage.

Want to give Royal Canin treats a try? Schedule a nutrition visit with your Badger Veterinary Hospital veterinarian today!