Much like us, dogs and cats love their treats. Treats are a great way to reward your pets for good behaviour, and is an excellent training tool. However, if left unchecked, these little treats can easily amount to an excessive proportion. Too many treats, especially highly processed and artificial ones, can be detrimental to your dog's and cat's health. But how much is too much?
The 10 Percent Rule
It is a common mistake for us adoring owners to enjoy spoiling our pups and kitties with their favourite treat without any restrain. As a rule of thumb, your dog or cat should never derive more than 10 percent of its daily nutritional requirement from treats. The question is, how do we calculate this 10 percent?
The easiest option would be to consult your vet. But if you'd like to come up with an estimate yourself, take a look at the packaging of your pet's food. Based on the calories provided, calculate how much your pet consumes in a day – this amount should always be decided based on your vet's advice. Now take that amount and multiply it by 0.1. This number is the amount of calories your pet's treats should amount to.
Do note that this number is not in addition to your pet's main meal, but is part of the total number of calories your dog or cat consumes in a day. This means that you will have to minus off a couple of kibbles to accommodate the calories from your pet's treats.
What About Natural Treats?
Natural treats such as fruits and vegetables are just as healthy for your dog as they are for us. Packed with vitamins, essential micronutrients (like minerals) and dietary fibre, using fruits such as bananas, watermelon, apple, carrot and broccoli are great treats that are much healthier than the processed ones bought from pet-stores. If you're as lazy as me, and hate being in the kitchen, take a look at these sweet potato, pumpkin or banana treats! Simple, convenient and best of all, no artificial preservatives are added!
Replacing mass-produced treats, typically high in hydrogenated fats and sugars and often containing potentially hazardous preservatives, with fruits and vegetables will yield a noticeable boost in your dog's health and activity level. Lethargic dogs are usually those whose systems are weighed down by having to process large amounts of processed food.
Alternatively, choose from single ingredient treats! These treats not only contain less calories, but also do not contain artificial preservatives. They are usually air dried or freeze dried, which means that much of the good nutrients, vitamins & minerals are retained!
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