Many pet owners lavish their beloved cats and dogs with treats, often as a way to reward them for good behavior or to show their affection. But few of them realize that their well-intentioned actions may be harming their pet’s health. Snacks are often high in calories and could be one of the reasons why more than half of pets in the United States are overweight.
It’s important for pet owners to be conscious of the number of treats they give their furry friends and to follow some guidelines to avoid adding too many calories to their diet.
The Limit of Treats
Pet treats are usually not healthy enough for dogs or cats to make up a significant part of their diet. They lack the necessary balanced nutrition that is found in pet food. Therefore, it’s crucial to limit the number of treats given to a maximum of 10% of their daily caloric intake. This includes any table scraps or food used to give medication, which are not suitable for a healthy pet’s diet.
You can consult your veterinarian to determine the total number of calories your pet requires daily and work out what 10% of that amount is. To find out the number of calories present in the treats, read the label on the packaging. If no calories are listed, refrain from buying that particular treat.
How Often to Give Treats
While some people offer treats as a way to train or reinforce good behavior, others may use them as a bonding experience with their pets. There is no specific rule about how often treats should be given, as long as they are limited to 10% of the pet’s daily caloric intake. Some pet owners may choose to give a large biscuit every day, while others may offer several kibbles throughout the day, one or two pieces at a time.
It’s important to remember that giving no treats at all is just fine. Cats and dogs can be rewarded with extra playtime, words of praise, or other signs of affection.
The Risks of Table Scraps
If you enjoy feeding your pets scraps from the dinner table, it’s essential to be aware of the number of calories it contains. Failing to count these calories can cause pets to gain too much weight. Keep the bites of table scraps small, preferably the size of your pinky fingernail, to ensure they are not excessively high in calories.
However, table scraps can lead to begging behavior in pets. They may associate food with rewards, leading them to beg for more. It’s important not to reward begging behavior. If a pet begs, it’s best to distract them with another activity, such as playing or taking them for a walk.
If you find it challenging to resist those big eyes or whines and meows, consider putting your pet in a different room while you eat. Alternatively, try feeding them their meal at the same time you eat yours to avoid them feeling left out.
It’s safe to offer some human food to your pet, as long as the portions are in check. However, certain human foods can be harmful to pets, such as chocolate, onions, garlic, raisins, and grapes. Therefore, you must avoid feeding these foods to your pets at all costs.
In conclusion, while treats can be a great way to bond with your pets, it’s crucial to exercise moderation and caution when offering them to your furry friends. By being mindful of their caloric intake and following the guidelines, you can ensure your pets remain healthy, happy, and well-nourished.