Scarsdale Vets practice nurse Hollie Azzini RVN shares her tips for ensuring your pet’s treats are both tasty and safe:
Check before giving your pet human food. Many foods can be high in fat and cause tummy upset or even toxic and irreparable damage to their organs. Our pets have allergies too and human food can cause very scary side effects - even healthy food like fruit and veg isn’t always safe.
Keeping your pet’s teeth clean is essential for their health, however dental treats aren’t always the best way to do this. They often contain a lot of fat and can add to your pet’s waistline while not actually doing much for their teeth. Use sparingly!
Puppies and Kittens
Young animals have very different needs when it comes to treats. Their baby teeth are fragile so it is important to ensure treats are soft and suitable for puppies and kittens. Bones and hard treats can cause fractures in baby teeth and cause a lot of pain, leading to tooth removal.
It is very common for people to give their pets yogurt or milk as a treat. Unfortunately our pets are not able to digest dairy very well and it can affect their digestive system, giving them stomach ache or diarrhoea. It is better to avoid dairy altogether and buy specific dog or cat milk instead.
It is important to ensure we don’t give too many treats – some pets will eat all their treats as well as their regular meals and start to gain weight. This can cause health problems such as joint pain, diabetes and breathing issues. Others will eat less regular food when full of treats but this can be just as bad! While they won’t gain weight, their nutrition is being affected. Complete pet food contains everything your pet needs whereas treats don’t, so they could be missing out on essential nutrients.
Using treats when training is important so that they know when they are doing something right. However, this can lead to using excessive amounts of treats. Use small breakable treats or ones they can lick so they still get a reward but it is smaller in volume. They really don’t mind if the treat is tiny! Toys can also be used as rewards.
Some pets with certain health problems require particular food and nutrition. Treats can get in the way of this and cause unwanted issues. It is important that treats are suitable for your pet’s condition as well as their main diet.
Inappropriate timing of treats can accidentally lead to rewarding unwanted behaviours and can confuse our pets. It is important to reward the behaviour we enjoy, so time the treats carefully and if not during training always ask for a command your pet knows, such as “sit,” before they receive the treat.
For more information or any concerns you may have, please call 01283 568162 or 01283 565333 (Stretton) to make an appointment to see our clinic nurse for a free chat.