What Treats Should I Be Feeding My Pet?

(Photo by Andrew Branch)

A Note From Dr. John:

To feed or not to feed, that is the question… if only treat choices were that easy.  Unfortunately, with so many treat options on the market and pet health issues increasing in prevalence, the decision on what and how much to feed can seem overwhelming.  The rate of diabetes, arthritis, dental disease, and other illnesses seems to be ever-increasing.  Many of these conditions, however, can be prevented with the right daily care- this includes the types of treats that your pet receives.  Here are some treat options based on different life stages and health statuses:

  • Dental disease.  Plaque and tartar inevitably accumulate on your pet’s teeth as they age.  Trying to brush your pet’s teeth may not fit into your busy schedule or it may not be something your pet particularly enjoys.  If this is the case, dental treats are a great way to reduce the speed of tartar accumulation.  Check out C.E.T. Hextra Chews, OraVet Dental Chews, or Greenies Dental Chews.  Select the right size based on your pet’s weight range and let your pet show off his or her pearly whites!
  • Obesity.  Obesity rates are estimated to be at a staggering 30-50% in dogs and 20-50% in cats.  Obesity predisposes pets to multiple ailments such as diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and pancreatitis.  Preventing obesity is all about calories in versus calories out.  One of the biggest sources of excessive calories for pets is treats.  For the couch potato pets, your best bet is a low calorie option such as Lean Treats or Lite Snackers.  
  • Arthritis.  Pets are just like people.  As their bodies age, the cumulative stress on joints leads to arthritis and the subsequent pain associated with it.  Unfortunately, there is no going back once arthritis sets in.  One of the best ways to prevent and manage it once it has arrived is to provide your pet with the right joint supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.  Dasuquin and Cosequin are packed with these supplements and are a great daily treat as well.

Remember that treats are just that- treats! They are intended to supplement your pet’s regular caloric intake from a balanced diet.  Don’t fixate on one problem (dental disease) only to replace it with another (obesity and diabetes).  And, as always, consult your veterinarian to help determine the best treat option for your pet.  

Our information is not intended to replace the advice of your veterinarian.  Do not use this information for diagnostic purposes. Always take your pet to your veterinarian to obtain a diagnosis and course of treatment.