Treats are an important part of rewarding your dog or cat. In moderation, cat and dog treats are great. They offer motivation during house training and basic commands, offer appeasement during times of stress, let you to bond with your pet, and are just generally tasty. But food-based rewards can also lead to obesity and health problems. 

Your team at Oakland Veterinary Referral Services understands the importance of pet treats. This blog is to give you insights into pet treats and suggest forms of reward that are healthy alternatives to treats.

Calories in Popular Treats

A treat here, a tablespoon of peanut butter there…We do love to treat our pets with snacks, but those can add up for our small friends. It doesn’t take many extra calories before someone your pet’s size starts packing on pounds. You may be surprised to know that those little snacks are packed with more calories than you may think. 

For example:

  • 1 hot dog is equivalent to eating 2.5 burgers to a 20 lb. dog.
  • 1 cookie is equivalent to a whole meal for a 20 lb. dog. 
  • 1 ounce of cheese is 100 calories. That’s equivalent to 2.5 burgers to a 10 lb. cat.
  • 1 tablespoon of peanut butter is 92 calories
  • 1 slice bread is 105 calories

These don’t seem like much to us, but unhealthy or high-fat snacks in addition to meals can add up to lots of calories and extra weight for a dog or cat.

Commercial Cat and Dog Treats

Each dog biscuit or kitty treat varies in calories. If the manufacturer does not provide nutrition details on the packaging, you can look online to review this information (for most companies). Even the smallest treat will be about 3 calories and most are higher calorie. When you consider your dog or cat’s weight, multiple treats add up and account for your pet’s daily caloric intake maximum. 

One way of offering your pet a treat without increasing their weight is to measure out their daily food and treats to stay within healthy calorie guidelines. If their food changes frequently, you can track their calories in a food journal.

An easy idea to give your pet a food treat, but maintain their daily caloric recommendation is to supplement their food with healthy people food. For example, instead of giving your furry one a full cup of their regular dog or cat food, try supplementing ¼-⅛ of it with carrots, green beans, or an ounce of chicken or beef. 

Alternatives to Dog and Cat Treats

There are many alternatives to rewarding your pet without indulging them with food. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Teaching a new trick
  • Brushing
  • Going for a walk
  • Playing with a favorite toy
  • Going somewhere new
  • Hanging out at the park
  • Learning something new like doga or skijoring
  • Using the clicker
  • Verbal praise
  • Go on a car ride
  • Have friends with dogs over

The list is endless and can also give you a chance to be creative with how you praise your best friend without resorting to the same-old, same-old. Sticking to daily servings and calorie input can keep your pet healthy and at the correct weight. A pet at a healthy weight will have fewer health issues and likely live longer. 

If the team at OVRS can answer any questions about cat and dog treats, how to keep your pet at the right weight, or anything else, please contact us.