There’s How Many Calories in my Pet’s Treats

There’s How Many Calories in my Pet’s Treats??

Last week I examined an overweight retriever mix whose owner had been measuring out the three cups of Healthy Weight Management dog food carefully and couldn’t understand why year after year he stays at 112 pounds. The usual culprit in many households is all the “people food” snacks that add up, but the owner assured me none were given. Finally I asked if there were any dog treats at all, and she reluctantly said “I give him two Large Busy Bones daily – he’s a big boy and they are just two treats. We looked at Large Busy Bones on the Treat Calorie Chart below and found that she was adding a whopping 1200 calories every day. That’s like feeding him 4 more cups of his dog food everyday!!

Lets look at one of the biggest problem areas in your pet’s daily diet – all those pet treats and table food. Most clients with truly healthy and fit pets are not feeding table food. There is just too much variation in the calorie load when excess people food ends up in the dog or cat bowl. Just don’t do it, nothing off your plate is as nutritionally balanced as their commercial dog food.

Dog and cat treats can be very nutritious and are often an appropriate reward that helps bond you to your pet. Many of the traditional types of dog treats have the nutrition of basic dog and cat foods, but are not guaranteed to be a “complete and balanced” food. So if you like to give your large dog a large “Milk Bone” type of treat every time he goes outside, a word of caution. If you broke up each treat and put it in a measuring cup, you might find that you’ve given your dog a couple extra cups by the end of the day equivalent to an equal amount of basic dog food. And if you are treating with premium dog biscuits or cat treats that contain way more protein, fat, and carbs, then the added “food” could double your dog or cat’s daily calorie intake.

So for those who want to give treats in between meals, go small, break up the larger treats and give less. Milk Bone Minis have 5 calories each. The pet treat industry does often indicate how much protein and fat is in each treat, but they are not required to post the calories per treat. Some of our clients set aside a small amount of food from each meal and use that for treats in between instead. The following chart will help you do your due diligence when selecting treats for your pet.

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