Who doesn’t love treats? Just as we love dessert or savory snacks, our dogs enjoy novelty foods every once in a while. We can use these novel foods as a training treat or simply as something nice for our dogs to dig into. Unfortunately, our dogs are also like us in that they can get too many calories from these treats. The best way to navigate the fine balance between treating our dogs and watching their weight is to find dog treats that are also healthy. What kinds of healthy dog treats can we feed our dogs?
Healthy Dog Treats: Expand Your Horizons
When you think of dog treats, chances are what comes to mind are small brown unidentifiable morsels. Healthy dog treats don’t have to look like that, though. We can expand what we think of as a dog treat.
Healthy Vegetable Dog Treats
Vegetables lack the high fat, sugar, and preservative levels of many commercially-prepared dog treats. Here are several vegetables you can feed your dog as treats.
Many of the benefits we obtain from eating carrots our dogs can achieve as well. The beta-carotene in carrots improves our dog’s vision. The vitamin A in carrots can also help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. Carrots have antioxidants that reduce the effects of aging. These vegetables can reduce the risk of lung and colon cancer, lower cholesterol, and reduce heart disease risks. On top of all the internal benefits, carrots also protect your dog’s coat, keeping it shiny and healthy-looking.
Green beans are high in iron, potassium, Vitamins A, C, and K, folic acid, and fiber, to name a few. These veggies are quite low in calories, making them an ideal healthy dog treat. Green beans promote bone health, heart health, vision, immune system support, and blood pressure regulation.
Broccoli has an immense amount of vitamin K. Vitamin K improves bone density, allowing your dogs more agility from stronger bones. The vitamin C in broccoli can help our dogs battle diseases and cancers. Broccoli also has a lot of potassium, which promotes heart health. Broccoli also reduces cholesterol and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Beets contain many ingredients that benefit our dog’s bodies. Folic acid, for example, helps to replace damaged cells in the body. The fiber content can improve digestive health, vitamin C strengthens the immune system, and phosphorus strengthens bones.
Many other vegetables make healthy dog treats, like corn and potatoes. One vegetable you should never feed your dog is onions.
Healthy Fruit Dog Treats
Fruits are another potential healthy dog treat that lacks the high-fat content and preservatives of manufactured dog treats. Here are several fruits your dog will love.
It’s common knowledge that bananas are high in potassium, but did you know they are rife with other beneficial compounds? Bananas have fiber, magnesium, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. This fruit promotes bone growth, helps the body produce protein, helps absorb vitamins, and improves digestion. Though bananas are great for dogs, the banana peel is not; do not feed banana peels to your dog.
Strawberries are rife with beneficial nutrients for your canine companion. Studies have linked strawberries to a decreased risk of developing heart disease and certain cancers. This fruit is a fantastic source of vitamin C to boost your pet’s immune system. They are high in fiber to boost digestive health and have a high water content to help hydrate your dog. Strawberries also help naturally whiten teeth.
Watermelon (and watermelon rinds) are great treats for dogs. They’re full of water to keep your pooch from getting parched, but they’re also full of vitamins and other nutrients. Studies have connected eating watermelon with lower blood pressure, reduced muscle soreness, and reduced insulin resistance. Beta-carotene in watermelon improves eye health and function. The magnesium in watermelon is critical for bone growth and absorbing vitamins.
Apples are another dog favorite but feed only in slices with the seeds removed. Do not feed grapes, raisins, or avocados to your dog. Read more about foods that are toxic to dogs.
Healthy Dog Treat Chews
Chews are an excellent dog treat for several reasons. Their hardness and density mean your dog must take their time eating it, meaning they consume fewer calories. It keeps their minds busy while also abrading their teeth, leading to better mental and dental health simultaneously!
The 10% Rule
Remember that no matter what kind of treat you feed your dog, treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s diet. You can always give your dog treats, give them in small amounts and sparingly.
Treats Aren’t Just Food
Remember, food items aren’t the only treats we can give our dogs. We can “treat” our dogs with anything that brings them joy. Longer walks, sniffing adventures, trips to the park, massages, anything outside their ordinary routine is a treat!
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