Most dog owners understand that their pets need a healthy, balanced diet in order to live a happy, high-quality life. However, no matter what kind of diet you opt for, it is likely that you will end up treating your dog to snacks from time to time.
There is nothing wrong with this in theory. It is a good way to bond with your dog, and it helps to establish your position of dominance if your dog knows that they can only get food from you. Of course, you have to make sure they know that they only get treats when they are calm and well-behaved, and not if they beg and whine.
If you are an owner who likes to feed your dog snacks on a fairly regular basis, you need to make sure they are getting a good, nutritionally-balanced dog food. Look for brands such as James Wellbeloved dog food to make sure that your pet is definitely getting a healthy diet, and is therefore less likely to develop health issues from excess snacking.
Every dog is different in terms of what foodstuffs they enjoy, and so owners may find that the items they end up using as treats vary wildly from dog to dog. However, there are a few that many owners find that their pets enjoy more often than not.
These are very different in terms of how healthy they are for your dog. The primary concern is obesity. Much like humans, dogs can end up eating foodstuffs that do not fill them up much, yet contain high amounts of calories. It is for this reason that a balanced diet is essential before you consider giving your dog snacks.
First and foremost, it is absolutely essential that you avoid feeding your dog chocolate of any kind, no matter how much they seem to enjoy it. All forms of cocoa are poisonous to dogs. While you may find that they can eat a few squares without any negative effects, you are risking your dog's health and even life for the sake of a treat.
Your dog will typically baulk at the bitter taste of dark chocolate, but milk and white chocolates disguise their poisonous nature with dairy and sugar. The sweetness makes them very appealing to dogs, but this does not make them any less deadly. Avoid giving your dog chocolate at all costs!
If your dog has a sweet tooth, try giving them a piece of fruit instead. Apples, pears, oranges, bananas and cantaloupe melons will satisfy your pet's cravings for sugar without the risk of death. You should make sure to peel and core them first, however.
Fruit also gives your dog valuable vitamins and minerals. This can bestow all kinds of benefits on canines, from melons improving their eyesight, oranges strengthening their immune system and pears promoting a strong heart. Avoid grapes and raisins, however, as they can be harmful to dogs.
Several foods that people often use as snacks for their dogs are not poisonous, but contain far too many calories. For example, it is common to see dogs being fed crisps by their owners. These are a terrible snack for dogs: not only do they contain far too much salt and calories, they also do not fill dogs (or people) up at all.
Pasta is another snack to avoid. If you feed your dog leftovers, try not to give them the remains of pasta dishes. Dogs do not need as many carbohydrates as humans, and they are usually converted to fat by a dog's digestive system.
Dogs tend to enjoy cheese, but this is another treat that it is best not to give your pet. It can be fairly beneficial in very small quantities due to its calcium content, but dogs are not really supposed to eat too much lactose and it can cause digestive irritation. It also contains far too much fat, and too many calories, to be a good dog treat.
Meat tends to be a good choice for dogs, but even here there are a few things to avoid. Chicken breasts are very good for dogs, for example, but the skin is quite high in calories and fat and low in beneficial nutrients. Feed your dog quality meat rather than the skin, giblets and other leftovers if you want a healthy pet.
Before you give your dog anything to snack on, bear its calorie content in mind and look into what beneficial nutrients it contains. Dogs will eat junk food just like humans, but they will enjoy healthy snacks just as much. When combined with a balanced diet, you can carefully treat your dog to plenty of snacks.
Written by: Hannah Dyball