Editor's Note: This is a guest post on the Grey Matters Blog and not written by anyone affiliated with Grey Muzzle. We allow guest contributors from time to time in order to provide our supporters with a wide range of topics pertaining to senior dogs.
John is a dog trainer with many years’ experience in training companion dogs. Sometimes when it comes to training a dog, especially for those food orientated dogs, we can often wonder how the amount of treats we use in their typical training sessions are adding to the calories they eat on a daily basis.
Data collected in 2018 suggests that nearly 100 million pets in the US are overweight or obese which includes a whopping 54% of all dogs in the states. Not only does obesity shorten lives, but it is associated with a range of other health conditions including arthritis, bladder issues, liver disease, heart failure and high blood pressure. If you are considering swapping out the treats you use for more healthy, low calorie ones, we have put together our top 5 healthy treats which you can prepare at home.
Oranges – The Best Homemade Dog Training Treat
Being non-toxic to dogs, they are perfectly safe to use as the ultimate homemade dog training treats. They are high in Vitamin C and have levels of Omega Fatty Acids which contribute to energy and water levels and support hydration. An oranges potassium content will support heart and muscle function and support nerve control. It’s folate level with support cell growth and function and the calcium support blood clotting and bone strength. Remember to peel the orange before you feed it to Fido and cut it into chunks he can easily eat and digest. Oranges to have naturally occurring sugars so consider how these fit into their daily allowance.
Peaches, again non-toxic to dogs are high in Vitamin A and Fibre. Vitamin A contributes to health skin, teeth, soft tissue and bones and Fibre is essential in maintaining a health digestive system. Peaches also have naturally occurring sugar, so be mindful of the amounts you feed. Peach flesh is also safe for Fido to eat, but always remove the peach pit. It contains a compound called amygdalin which breaks down to hydrogen cyanide, yes that poison. Not only that, but the pit could cause an obstruction in your dog’s throat.
A powerhouse of vitamins, in a 165g serving, a mango has 1262IU of Vitamin A and 45.7mg of Vitamin C. If you were a human, these would cover 25% and 76% of your recommended daily allowance respectively. Vitamin A plays a vital role in healthy teeth, skin, bones and soft tissues. Mangos also boast a huge water content which contributes to hydration. They too have naturally occurring sugars, so again be mindful of the amounts you feed. Excess Vitamin C levels can also cause loose stools. Some dogs don’t tolerate mango particularly well, so watch for any signs of digestive discomfort and like with the peach, remove the pit!
Coconut is high in a medium chain fatty acid called lauric acid. Lauric acid plays a part in fighting off bad bacteria, viruses and a range of other pathogens. It also has super anti-inflammatory properties. Remove the shell before feeding and cut into small pieces. Introduce slowly and watch for signs of digestive discomfort. Stop feeding immediately if this occurs. Its high fat content can be an issue for dogs with pancreatitis, so speak with your vet before adding this to your dogs’ diet.
A Fast And Easy Homemade Dog Training Treat - Pineapple
A super-sweet and tasty snack, pineapple is perfectly safe for dogs. Having a water content of 85% it is a huge help with hydration. Peel the pineapple and core it. Only ever feed pineapple chunks to your dog. The core is difficult to digest, and the skin is just too spikey! Again, high in Vitamin C, excess levels can cause loose stools. Perfectly safe to feed to your dog, it’s a healthy option for occasional snacks.
Generally, fruit and vegetables should make up no more than 20% of your dogs’ diet, and treats should be no more than 10% of their diet. It’s easy to see that we really need to pay attention to what and how much we are feeding Fido. These 5 healthy snacks can be fed in moderation but as always speak with your veterinarian before adding any new food to your dogs’ diet. They may have some pre-existing conditions which could be affected by certain foods. Introduce slowly if you do go ahead, and watch for any digestive discomfort like bloating, sickness or diarrhoea. Stop feeding immediately if this occurs. Be mindful of how any naturally occurring sugars impact on their daily requirements; like all food you feed to Fido, it just comes down to how much you feed and whether this suits his activity levels, energy needs and nutritional requirements.