If you haven’t checked out the first part of this blog post, click here. It includes an unmissable super adorable shot of my dog, so I must insist you go. If you’ve just come from there, carry on scrolling, there’s plenty more to talk about…
Yummy Scrummy Treats?
Okay, so you’re already avoiding all those known poisons (mentioned in part 1) but you think Fido’s really earned his big chew of the year? That’s fine! Don’t think we won’t be giving delicious and fatty treats to our animals, it’s nice to treat them. All we ask is that it’s done in moderation and balance.
The first thing to think about is your animal’s Daily Food Allowance. This is on the back of all packaged food, dry or wet, and often displayed as a table like the one below;
In this example the weight of your animal is at the top, followed by the amount of dry food in grams they should have in a day. It also has an additional section at the bottom that shows you how much to feed if giving a mix of wet and dry food (of the same make). Not all manufacturer’s will include the last section but if you are feeding half and half it’s easy; Half the daily amount of both types of food and mix. This is the amount calculated to give your animal ALL of their required nutritional needs. Therefore anything snuck on top of that is extra calories, and all goes on as extra weight.
We don’t have to be a Scrooge
Keeping this in mind, if you do want to give them something on top of their food, take a decent sized handful/spoonful out of their normal food, to try and offset the extra calories they would otherwise gain. Had a Christmas Jumbone? No problem, just skip the wet food on the evening’s meal. They won’t need it.
If your animal is more of a grazer you can still limit their daily amount. I found that with my dog, weighing the food and putting them in individual sandwich bags for the week took me all of 10 minutes on a Sunday afternoon, and made it much easier to stick to feeding him the right amount. You could do this for grazers and only top up their bowl with the contents of their sandwich bag for that day.
By visualising and being aware of their food intake, it’s easier to manage all the tidbits that happen to fall their way (I’m looking at you grandma). Also be aware of your dog’s size and the size of their treat – a Custard Cream sized treat to us is a Cheeseburger sized bonus for them (please don’t give your dog custard creams, or cheeseburgers).
Some Healthy Snack Alternatives?
How about we come up with some treats that the animal can get super excited about? One top dieting treat most of us recommend is using some vegetable treats like discs or cubes of carrot. Whole carrots tailored to your pet’s size make an excellent diet version of dental sticks. If they’re not fond on the flavour, you could even boil the cubes of carrot until soft, then leave them to cool in a jar with a cooked frankfurter sausage (or something equally smelly). The carrots will begin to smell like the sausage and become a lot more appetising.
Cats, being carnivores, will probably snuff at carrot cubes. Instead you can always try some ‘high-reward’ treats like a small prawn, the idea here being you give them the one super tasty treat and that’s it. What you have to remember is one is plenty for them, and not to give in to the Puss-In-Boots eyes…
From a behaviour point of view, your pet will also become more and more excited about having these treats if they keep coming from the same container kept in the same place. To them, the anticipation of having something extra from the ‘magical jar of tasty stuff’ will often be the most exciting part. Put a small handful of their daily allowance of food in this mystical jar for even more wonderment!
Stay strong, think about the importance of keeping your animal nice and healthy, treat in moderation and enjoy your holiday season with all creatures great and small!
Have you got any healthy and tasty treat recipes for dogs and cats that you can share with us? If so make sure to catch us on our Facebook page, or tweet us, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.