Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
Treats are fun to give and are useful for training. But in large enough quantities, treats and table food can contribute to weight gain and throw off the nutritional balance of a pet’s diet.
Keep these points in mind:
If you live with other people, you probably aren’t the only person giving your pet treats. Talk to your veterinarian about a realistic nutrition plan that will work for your household, especially if your pet is overweight or has special nutritional needs.
The calories in treats and table food can add up quickly for a small animal that needs only a fraction of the calories that a person eats. To find out how much your pet should eat in a day, start with your pet food manufacturer’s feeding guide or use a calorie calculator. Your pet’s individual requirement might be higher or lower than the estimate from a feeding guide or calorie calculator, so keep an eye on your pet’s body condition and adjust the amount fed as needed.
Here’s how to find your pet’s daily calorie requirement:
A balanced diet has the right proportions of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fat for an animal’s species and life stage. For example, cats need a higher percentage of dietary protein than dogs do, and growing animals need more calcium than adults do.
Pet foods sold as complete and balanced diets must meet nutrient requirements set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The packaging will include a statement that the product meets AAFCO standards for a certain species and life stage.
Products sold as treats don’t have to meet these nutrient requirements. As long as the treats make up less than 10% of the daily calorie intake, their nutrient content isn’t that important. But if treats account for more than 10% of the daily calories, they can unbalance the diet.
These treats don’t contain many calories and are safe for healthy dogs and cats. If your pet has a food allergy or a medical condition, ask your veterinarian about appropriate treats.
Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/hjzs2nA4y-k
Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
The contents of this blog are for information only and should not substitute for advice from a veterinarian who has examined the animal. All blog content is copyrighted by Mallard Creek Animal Hospital and may not be copied, reproduced, transmitted, or distributed without permission.