Dog Treats: What’s Best for your Dog

Treats can prove invaluable in rewarding positive behavior and in reinforcing behavior learned during training. They’re also a fun, inexpensive way to show your dog you love him. When choosing a treat, be sure to consider these four factors:

* Your intended use – if you plan to use treats during training, smaller treats are a good choice. They’re quickly consumed and provide minimal distraction from training tasks.

* Your “treat frequency” – if you plan to feed treats to your dog often, consider smaller, lower-calorie treats, which will help him stay slim.

* Your dog’s age and relevant medical conditions – puppies often prefer smaller treats, and seniors with sensitive teeth often prefer soft treats. Dogs with food sensitivities/allergies can benefit from hypoallergenic treats.

* Your dog’s preferences – treats are available in several different shapes, sizes, and flavors sure to fit your dog’s unique tastes.

Although better for your dog than table scraps and meant to be given at any time, treats should constitute no more than 10% of your dog’s diet. This is especially important for overweight dogs. Treats can also help you avoid the problems associated with feeding table scraps – begging, malnutrition, weight gain, digestive problems, and picky eating.

Following, you’ll find brief descriptions of the wide variety of dog treats:

Biscuits & Treats

Biscuits and treats provide the crunch dogs crave, while promoting healthy teeth and gums. Smaller treats are perfect (and portable) for use as training aids and quick rewards. Biscuits are typically bone-shaped, and some include low-fat, natural ingredients and are fortified with vitamins and minerals. Crunchy treats, which are often smaller than biscuits, let you quickly reward your dog with a wide variety of flavorful, bite-sized treats.

Healthy Treats/Bones

If your dog is on a diet, or if you simply prefer giving all-natural treats, healthy treats and bones are all good choices. These low-fat, naturally nutritious, all-vegetable or grain-based treats provide essential dental benefits while offering all the flavor and appeal of other types of treats, which may not be conducive to weight loss.

Meat Treats

Meat treats – whether chewy or hard and crunchy – contain real meat or meat products and combine the taste dogs love with the protein dogs need. Chewy offer your dog a soft, tender treat with the irresistible flavor of lamb liver, chicken liver, or beef liver. Hard and crunchy meat treats pack a satisfying crunch.

Natural Treats

Natural treats make great chews for dogs of all ages and chewing habits. These chews are full of natural flavors dogs love. Pigs ears, a perennial favorite, are available in delicious natural or hickory flavors in full-size pieces or bite-size for more frequent treating. All-natural pork treats, made of dried pork hide, are good choices when you want to give your dog a longer-lasting chew treat.

Rawhide Treats

Rawhide Treats are beneficial to dental health and available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles to satisfy every chewing habit and dogs of all sizes. Rawhide treats are available in three varieties to satisfy your dog’s preferences. Shaped rawhide treats (bones, twists, rings, sticks, and so on) are tightly wrapped or knotted to provide the most rawhide for your money. Ground rawhide novelties, consisting of small ground pieces of rawhide formed into shapes (rings, lollipops, and sticks), are easier to break down and are great for smaller dogs. Pressed rawhide treats, the most durable of rawhide treats, give your dog several layers of rawhide “welded” together to form the strongest, longest-lasting rawhide treat.

Dental Treats

Dental treats are designed to help you prevent painful, costly dental problems. Greenies® dog treats are an excellent, flavorful dental treat that freshens breath while reducing plaque and tartar. As your dog gnaws on a variety of delicious dental treats, he’ll improve his overall dental health by effectively preventing tartar formation, plaque buildup, gum disease, and the germs that cause dreaded “doggie breath.”

Brent Goodman holds degrees in English from Ripon College, a Masters of Fine Arts from Purdue University, and has extensive experience in research communications and educational publishing across various fields of study. He is currently the Senior Copywriter at Drs. Foster & Smith Pet Supplies, the nation’s leading online and catalog pet supplier.

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