Treats as a reward, chews for occupation or leftovers and sweets from the table: All of these dog food products can be summarized under the term “supplement”. These are feeds that are given in addition to normal feed, but have no particular nutritional value and are therefore not allowed to represent a feed substitute.
Feeding treats has been linked to several health risks for dogs:
The reason for these dangers is the high energy content of treats, which is often underestimated by dog owners. Treats are very low in nutrients and usually do not have a balanced composition. This usually also applies to chewing items that promise additional benefits such as dental care. In addition, treats are generally widely accepted by dogs, which is why owners are tempted to feed even more of them.
The use of treats and chews is generally possible, but only in moderation. As a rule of thumb, treats should make up less than 10% of the otherwise balanced daily ration of healthy dogs of normal weight.
Tip: If a reward is required regularly, it is a very good alternative if, when using dry food, one portion of the daily amount is set aside in the morning and used as a treat throughout the day.
There are many different treats for dogs. © Birgit Reitz-Hofmann-stock.adobe.com
There are many different types of treats or supplementary foods that differ in their composition. They all have advantages and disadvantages:
Dried animal tissues (e.g. pig ears, bull pigs, tendons, scalp)
Grain based dog biscuits
Treats with additional functions
(e.g. teeth cleaning or support for joint health)
Vegetables and fruits (e.g. carrots and apples)
dried animal food
Treats are popular when raising young dogs. © Christian Müller-stock.adobe.com
Dogs that are already overweight should be fed very carefully. In order to achieve normal weight again, it is usually necessary to forego supplementary feed. Under certain circumstances, simply giving up treats is not enough and the ration must be completely adjusted.
As a reward for overweight dogs, only very low-energy supplementary food, for example carrot or apple pieces, is an option.
Another special case are dogs with food intolerance or allergies in which even small amounts of an incompatible component can trigger symptoms. With these dogs, care should be taken that the treats only contain the components from the main food.
When using food and leftovers as treats, it must be taken into account that not everything that tastes good to humans is also suitable for dogs. Because many foods can be toxic to dogs. For example, chocolate contains not only a lot of energy and sugar, but also a substance that is toxic to dogs, theobromine. Especially in smaller breeds, consuming a few grams of chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can lead to poisoning.