Dog treats are a staple in most households and are used for both training and praise. However, many dog owners go overboard and feed their dog's too many treats throughout the day. Here, the appropriate number of treats to feed your active dog will be discussed.
Nutritional Content of Dog Treats
According to the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), treats are not intended to be a source of complete nutrition. Since treats are intended to be rewarding, they often have high fat, sugar, and caloric contents, with little nutritional value. Even if you have an active dog, too many treats of low nutritional value can be harmful.
Types of Dog Treats
In general, there are 3 types of dog treats:
High-value rewards are generally reserved for less-common instances when a dog must be strongly reinforced. For instance, a high-value reward might be used for recall in a crowded area. Examples of high-value rewards include liver and cheese.
- Training Treats
Training treats are smaller, less calorically dense dog treats that are intended to be used during training sessions. These treats are available in a wide variety of flavors, shapes, and sizes.
Dog biscuits are hard, dry treats are generally fed as snacks or for non-dog training purposes.
How Many Dog Treats Should You Feed Your Dog?
The number of treats to feed your dog per day depends on the type of treat and your dog’s activity level. For instance, a young, active dog will have higher caloric needs than an older, sedentary pet. In general, dogs should not receive more than 10% of their daily caloric intake from treats. A calculator to determine your dog’s exact caloric needs can be found here.
High-value rewards and dog biscuits should be given sparingly, no more than 1 – 2 treats per day. Training treats can be given in higher volume, particularly if they are less than 3 – 5 calories each.
Tips for Reducing Your Dog’s Calorie Count
Dogs that are fed too many treats are at a greater risk of gastrointestinal distress, as well as obesity. The easiest way to reduce your dog’s calorie count is to limit the number of treats your pet receives each day. Pet owners can also break treats into smaller morsels. One biscuit can be broken into 3 – 4 treats, while small training treats are still effective when halved or quartered.
Ultimately, pet owners should beware that treats are a primary source of obesity in dogs, even among active dogs. Caloric intake from treats should not exceed 10% of the dog’s recommended caloric needs, and high-value treats should be fed sparingly.
Please note: all dogs should be treated as individuals. The Actijoy™ blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only. In the case of emergency, always seek qualified health care from a local veterinarian or emergency facility. Actijoy™ blogs are not designed to treat, diagnose, or prescribe medication for your pet.