These days there's such an amazing selection of commercial dog treats available whether in pet stores or supermarkets, that it can be a little bit bewildering as to which are healthy and which are not. If the truth be known, giving a dog too many treats and this includes "healthy" ones, is never a good idea because your pet will put on the pounds very quickly. Just as with people, getting rid of the extra unwanted weight that dogs carry round can prove a real problem and obesity is responsible for many serious canine illnesses.
You need to work out a good balance of treats and dog food which means working out just how many calories your pet needs to stay fit and healthy. It's really important for dogs to maintain a healthy weight because this reduces the risk of them developing a multitude of diseases. A slim, fit dog will stand a better chance of living a longer and illness free life than one that's carrying too much weight.
If you are unsure on how many calories your dog needs on a daily basis, you need to discuss this with your vet. If you lead a very active life and your dog spends a lot of time with you, then naturally they will need to be fed a higher calorie intake than an older dog that's more of a couch potato. Once you have determined how many calories your dog needs, you need to stick to this making sure that if they are fed rich and yummy treats, the amount of food they are given is reduced so it balances thing out.
It goes without saying that a "treat" should be just that, an occasional tit-bit which should be given as a reward when your dog has behaved nicely or learnt a new command/trick. If you give your pet leftovers from the table (which is never a very good idea), you need to make sure their dog food is drastically reduced to balance out their calorie intake.
Lots of people offer their dogs a "people" biscuit and again, although very tasty, they contain far too much fat and sugar so in the long run, offering a dog sweet biscuits could result in a lot of weight gain which will ultimately put pressure on their whole body and especially their joints and heart. As a rule of thumb, "people food" should never account for anything over 10 percent of your pet's daily calorie intake.
When it comes to commercially produced dog treats, which are typically not "good" calories, you should never give too many to your pet and instead keep them as a special reward offered from time to time.
There's a lot of debate as to whether owners should feed a complete dry pet food to their dogs or whether it's a good idea to mix this with canned food. At the end of the day, this is very much a personal choice. The other thing to bear in mind is that every dog is different with the amount of exercise they receive varying which automatically impacts how many calories they burn off on a daily basis.
Mixing canned food with dry food is fine, the thing to watch out for is "mixers" which often contain starchy ingredients and which if fed in large amounts will result in a dog putting on too much weight. Mixers should never be fed on their own either because they do not contain all the nutrients, minerals and vitamins a dog needs to stay healthy.
Although you may think that feeding dry food will help prevent tartar building up on your pet's teeth, which it does to a certain extent, you should still make sure your pet chews special dental sticks and have their teeth cleaned on a daily basis. Regular visits to the vet for a dental check up are also a must for dogs especially as they grow older.
If you decide to feed your dog a dry food diet only, you have to make sure they have constant access to fresh, clean water. It's also not a good idea to leave dry food out for your dog to eat when they please as this makes it that much harder to control their calorie intake. On top of this, it is harder to see if they are drinking too much or too little water.
If your dog suffers from a kidney disease, you would need to feed them according to your vet's recommendations. There are some very good therapeutic canine diets that have proved to be effective at maintaining proper kidney function. It's also a good idea to stay away from sugary or fatty treats which could make your dog very sick.
Making sure your dog is happy and healthy doesn't mean you can't give them the occasional yummy treat. However, it is never a good idea to give your pet too many as it could mean they put on far too much weight. Research has shown that slimmer dogs do live long lives and they are less at risk of developing any diseases or health issues.
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