Simply look into your dog’s eyes as you extend your hand containing a treat and you will immediately see from the pleasure it expresses deep within that the way to a dog’s heart is through a treat.
In addition to using a treat to express our affection and love, a treat can also be a critical component in dog training and rewarding good dog behaviour. For example, you can use treats to reinforce a calm and submissive state.
The most ideal time to give your dog treats is in-between meals, not immediately before or after a meal.
Although pet stores are literally filled with aisles of several brands of commercially produced dog treats, we need to realise that not all treats are created equal. Some of the common dog treats are basically empty calories, while some other treats are often classified as “functional dog treats” because they have been embedded with some supplemental nutrition that your pet can greatly benefit from.
If your dog is overweight, treats made to be low in fat and calories and high in fibre can be helpful in reducing its weight. In addition to this, these types of treats usually contain L-carnitine (a substance that has been shown to enhance athletic performance because it helps the body to turn fat into energy).
If you usually take your dog on for long distances or train and compete with your dogs in strenuous dog sports, such as fly ball, agility, heavy weight pulling or any other high-energy activity, treats rich in protein and fat will give these dogs an extra “fuel” that they need to build muscle mass and maintain their high energy levels during intense competitions.
If you have a senior pet that is slowing down and has trouble getting up and down, it will be better to provide a treat that contains some extra ingredients for joint care. Treats containing glucosamine and chondroitin will be beneficial. Also, treats containing Vitamin E will also be useful because this vitamin is an antioxidant that helps to reduce inflammation and soothe painful joints.
In a case where your pet has a foul mouth odour or there is tartar or plaque build-up in the mouth, some dog treats which have special chemicals such as chlorophyll, mint, or parsley have been designed to help break down plaque and tartar in the mouth. These treats can help to reduce the amount of bacteria in your dog’s mouth, and thus the offensive odour.
If you need your pet’s skin and fur to be healthier, you can give treats that contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in their daily diets. The origins of these fatty acids are flaxseed, fish oil, or other natural sources. These ingredients work along with vitamins such as vitamins A, E and D to nourish the skin and hair and give a glossy shine.
If your dog has issues with a highly sensitive digestive tract, providing treats that contain fructo-oligosaccharides, yogurt, chicory, the brewer’s yeast and beet pulp might help to balance things out. In addition, treats containing extra fibre, probiotics and/or prebiotics can also be beneficial.
Please note that even though these dog treats contain functional ingredients and are considered “healthy”, it is best not to over-give them. Be sure to read the package to find out the correct amount to give based on your dog’s weight.
It is also interesting to note that some dog treats can also be home-made.
If you have some extra talent and prowess in the kitchen, you may want to make your own home-made dog treats. If you need some recipes, you can surf the Internet for a variety.
Most of these recipes are relatively simple to make and involve mixing a few ingredients and baking the mixture for a relatively long time, until the biscuits harden. Making your own dog treats is the best way to be aware of everything that goes into its mouth.
However, you need to remember that certain foods that are good for humans can be harmful in dogs, and can cause problems ranging from mild digestive problems to potentially fatal conditions, such as pancreatitis, anemia and enteritis. Common foods to avoid include but are not limited to onion, garlic, grapes, raisin, chocolate, dough and caffeinated beverages.
In conclusion, if you are giving a bone to your dogs as a treat, I advise that the bones must be size-appropriate. Do not give chicken bones or other flat bones. You should also ensure that you adequately supervise your dog when it is eating a bone.
Although they have been proved to keep teeth clean, prevent plaque buildup, reverse periodontal disease in dogs, and maintain a balance of essential proteins and minerals, they can cause fractured teeth, oral injuries, airway obstruction and gastrointestinal complications.