Giving your pup treats can be a great way to reward your dog for good behavior or to help teach your pooch a new obedience skill or trick.
Or let’s be honest – sometimes we love spoiling our pups because they are so darn cute.
The problem is that when we give our dogs treats in addition to their everyday meals, this can sometimes cause a pup to consume more calories than they need to maintain a healthy weight. Unfortunately, over time, this unintentional overfeeding can make a dog overweight.
Overweight dogs have a higher risk of developing a variety of weight-related health problems, such as arthritis, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Even more alarmingly, a recent study also revealed that overweight dogs are likely to have reduced lifespans. In fact, pups that are overweight live up to 2 ½ years less than dogs of a healthy weight. And with an estimated 56% of dogs in the United States being either overweight or obese, this is a real problem.
So how many treats can you feed your dog a day?
According to experts, treats should account for no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calories.
In order to determine the appropriate amount of treats to give your pup in a day, you will, therefore, need to calculate your dog’s daily caloric requirements.
To do this, veterinarians generally use a widely accepted calculation, which involves the following steps:
1. Determine your dog’s weight using a scale
2. Convert your pup’s weight to kilograms (kg) by dividing the weight in lbs by 2.2
3. Then, multiply the weight in kg by 30, and then add 70
So if you have a dog that weighs 22 pounds (approx. 10kg), the equation goes as follows:
30 x 10kg + 70 = 370
Your pooch’s Resting Energy Requirement (RER) is 370 kcal per day.
You will then divide this number by 10 to work out the maximum amount of calories your pup should consume from treats a day.
370 kcal ÷ 10 = 37 kcal (10% of your dog’s RER)
This means that your dog should not eat more than 37 kcal of treats daily.
However, it is important to note that this amount will slightly vary depending on several factors, including your pup’s breed, age, metabolic rate, and activity level.
Pallaby has developed an algorithm with veterinarians which considers numerous factors that influence the baseline recommendation of calories your dog needs each day. Take our onboarding quiz to find out your dog’s daily caloric requirements. We can then create a custom meal plan based on your dog’s needs.
If you still need some extra help assessing the correct amount of food to feed your dog, you can also consult with your veterinarian and check the package feeding instructions on your pup’s food. If you do want to give your furry friend treats, you may need to slightly reduce the amount of food you are feeding your pooch at mealtimes to account for the extra calories they are consuming from your chosen doggy treat.
Make healthy choices
Because your dog deserves the best.
Once you have calculated how many calories your dog needs each day, you should also consider the types of treat to feed your pooch. Here are a few tips to help choose the right treat for your dog:
Opt for small treats
If you are using treats to train or reward your dog, try to keep your treats small, or cut larger treats into smaller, chewable pieces, to help reduce the amount of treats you are feeding your pup a day.
Consider cutting out hard treats
Hard treats such as antlers, bones, and rawhide may be appropriate for some dog breeds, but not for others. For example, if your dog is a strong chewer, it may be worth skipping hard treats, as your pup might break off large bits of bone, which can cause teeth fractures, choking, or internal blockages.
Choose healthy ingredients
Dog treats can also be packed with a whole range of processed and artificial ingredients that can negatively impact your dog’s health. Key ingredients to avoid include:
- Artificial chemicals, artificial preservatives, and humectants: These nasties have been shown to contribute to a range of serious health concerns, such as cancer and kidney damage. As such, do not feed your dog food and treats that are made with ingredients such as BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), Ethoxyquin, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, and Propylene Glycol.
- Artificial colors: Although artificial colors can improve the appearance of food, they have been linked with several alarming health and behavioral problems. If possible, do not feed your dog treats with artificial colors, especially those that contain Blue 2, Red 40, 4-MIE (caramel color), Yellow 5, and Yellow 6.
- Other ingredients to avoid: Corn Syrup, Carrageenan, Melamine, Animal Fat, and Animal Byproducts.
Instead of buying treats with these yucky ingredients, choose treats for your dog that are made with few, quality ingredients.
Talk to your vet
If you require some help choosing the right treats for your pup, your vet can make specific recommendations based on your dog’s needs.
Consider switching to pallaby.
Pallaby. Curated pet nutrition. Delivered to your door.
Pallaby makes portion control simple. We create customized portion-controlled pouches that are tailored to your dog’s caloric needs. The best bit? We can build yummy and healthy peanut-butter flavored treats into your dog’s meal plan.