Treat Them with Love: Tips for Giving Your Pet Treats

Are you looking for ways to show your pet some extra love this spring? While we often shower them with treats to show how much we care, giving your pet treats isn’t always what’s best for their health. Treats are a significant source of calories and can contribute to obesity in cats and dogs. Let’s discuss some helpful tips for making healthy treat choices for our pets.

The Importance of Portion Control

Portion control is essential for helping your pet maintain a healthy weight. Many pet owners use food to show their pets love. However, this can result in overfeeding and significant weight gain. Obesity in dogs and cats is a growing problem, and lack of portion control can put your pet’s health at serious risk. 

To establish healthy portions, you will need to determine your pet’s daily calorie requirement. This number is calculated based on factors such as your pet’s weight, age, and activity level. Doing these calculations can be tricky, and it is often best to consult with your veterinarian. Your vet will assess your pet’s overall health and use specific formulas to calculate their unique calorie needs. 

Once you have determined how many calories your pet should be consuming, it’s time to measure out your pet’s food. Measuring out your pet’s treats is an essential step, but it’s best to start by measuring out their regular food. 

Your pet’s food label should have information regarding the number of calories per cup of food. This information is typically listed at the top of the nutrition label as “kcal/cup.” The terms calorie and kilocalorie are commonly used interchangeably in the pet food industry, so there is no need to worry about complicated unit conversions.

Keep in mind that many pet food labels will provide feeding recommendations based on your pet’s weight. These recommendations do not take your pet’s unique needs into consideration. Because of this, it’s best to stick to the recommendations provided by your veterinarian and take the time to do the extra math. 

How to Calculate Your Pet's Treat Allowance

The final step in establishing a healthy treat plan is determining how much food you will need to remove from your pet’s daily meals. With 10% of their calories coming from treats, you will need to reduce the number of calories they receive from their regular food. Reducing your pet’s food by precisely 10% can be tricky, but it’s essential to do your best to keep your pet’s health on track. 

Once you understand your pet’s daily calorie requirements, you will need to calculate your pet’s daily treat allowance. According to veterinary nutritionists, treats should be limited to less than 10% of your pet’s daily calorie intake. If your pet needs 600 calories a day, no more than 60 calories should come from treats. While it can be tempting to sneak your pet a few extra bites, those extra calories can add up quickly.

To determine the specific number of treats your pet can have, you will need to find out how many calories each treat contains. Most treats will list the nutritional information and calorie count on the label. The serving size of treats may vary, so it’s critical to pay close attention to these details when calculating your pet’s treat allowance.  

What About Table Scraps?

If you’re enjoying a delicious home-cooked meal, you may be tempted to share a few bites with your furry friend. Unfortunately, some table scraps can be harmful to your pet’s health. Foods such as chocolate, grapes, and garlic can be toxic. Other foods may be too rich for your pet to digest and cause problems such as diarrhea, vomiting, or pancreatitis. 

In addition to these concerns, table scraps can pose a significant risk to your pet’s weight. Many of the scraps pet owners share are high in fat and contain a significant number of calories. The calories in your pet’s table scraps can be hard to estimate. As a result, pets can easily exceed their 10% treat allowance. 

Because of these dangers, it is usually best to avoid table scraps altogether. However, if you are going to share your food, stick to pet-safe vegetables. Vegetables are typically low in calories and provide essential vitamins and nutrients. Much like any other treat, these calories should be carefully monitored and fall within your pet’s 10% treat allowance.

Summary – Giving Your Pet Treats

Treating your pet with love is about more than providing endless snacks. The best way to show your pet love is to help them live a long and healthy life. Before you break out that extra-large bag of treats, take a moment to consider how your pet’s treats are impacting their long-term health. Luckily, making healthy choices doesn’t mean eliminating treats altogether. With proper portion control and treat selection, giving your pet treats can still be an exciting way to brighten their day.