Replace Processed Treats with Fresh Food Treats
Do One Thing: May 2019. This article is part of the 2019 "Do One Thing" series, which focuses on one small project we can do each month to support our dog's health.
Treats play an important role in our dogs' lives. I sometimes think that dogs learn the words 'treat' or 'cookie' even before they learn words for basic manners! We use treats as rewards for training, good behaviour, and often, simply to make our dogs happy.
The treat aisles of most pet supply stores are often equal in number to the kibble and canned food aisles. How fun is it to browse the treat selection, and for under $10 bring home something in a cute package for our pets.
As much as I don't like throwing a "whomp whomp" on anyone's shopping fun, many of these processed dog treats contain poor ingredients of low nutritional value, added synthetic preservatives, colours, dyes, and flavours.
Your assignment for May ...
Replace some of your dog's processed store bought treats with fresh food treats. Your goal for May is to use homemade, or fresh food treats at home, and then if you must, store bought treats when you go out - since it's a little less convenient to carry a supply of steamed green bean treats in your pocket! As well, some dogs need a high value treat as 'motivation' when they are in a distracted environment or working on obedience.
Fresh Food Treat Ideas
Cooked meatballs - these can easily be broken into small pieces to be used as training rewards.
Bits of cheese - if your dog is not intolerant to dairy.
Hard boiled egg cut into chunks. Eggs can be scrambled and stuffed into a Kong and frozen for a cool treat on a hot day.
Veggies - steamed green beans and broccoli, fresh cucumber or celery, small pieces of cooked carrot or sweet potato.
Soft fruit - watermelon, cantaloupe, berries, banana
Frozen coconut oil and berry treats. These are higher fat and calories so limit the frequency and serving size.
Homemade treats - there are many recipes on line for dog treats. While I'm generally cautious about starches in a dog's diet, occasional treats made with whole wheat flour is fine for dogs who are not intolerant. You can experiment with treat recipes that use coconut flour or buckwheat in place of regular white or whole wheat flour.
For Kibble Fed Dogs
Using fresh food as treats in place of processed treats is an excellent way of adding fresh food to your dog's diet. This will also help to control the amount of empty calories and high starch food your dog consumes.
Please do not ever give your dog rawhide treats or chews. Have a look at this eye opening video from Rodney Habib about rawhide: https://www.planetpaws.ca/2016/12/30/dangerous-pet-chew-ever-created-rawhide/
Enjoy experimenting with fresh food treats for your dog and feel good knowing you are making a positive change in your dog's diet. Remember that each dog is an individual and so offer one new food at a time and watch for signs of tummy upset.
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