Everyone loves a good treat, including our pets. And, if used correctly, treats can be one integral in raising a happy, healthy dog or cat. Reward a pet with a treat for good behavior and that pet is, pretty much, guaranteed to remember and repeat that behavior. Treats are also an effective way to show your pet you are pleased with his, or her, companionship.
But, before giving your dog or cat a treat, there are certain things to consider. Here is our Top Ten list of things you should know:
- Proper selection – know which treat makes your pet the happiest and save this treat for his or her times of recognition.
- Right kind – talk with your vet before giving treats, so he, or she, can guide you in terms of what nutritious snack is best for your particular breed of dog or cat.
- Correct timing – make sure your treats are given to your pet immediately following a good behavior as reinforcement for that behavior. If not, your pet will quickly lose any association between the good behavior and the treat.
- Highest quality – treats come in various forms, such as crunchy or chewy, and can also be made at home by following some of the great recipes found online. Only treats with the highest quality and most easily digestible ingredients should be considered. Some of the best ingredients to look for are: meat, milk, eggs, apples, peanut butter, and canola oil.
- Low in salt – appropriate salt intake is very important to a pet. If too much salt is given, pets will drink too much water. If your pet is constantly thirsty, this may be a reason why.
- Right amount – typically ten percent of a pet’s food intake consists of treats. Treats are known to have a lot of calories and too many can make a pet gain weight, so make sure to give the right kind and the right amount.
- Easy on teeth –if you can press your fingers into a treat, it won’t crack teeth, if you can’t, be careful.
- Safe – some bones splinter into pieces that can be very dangerous to a pet. If your pet is given a bone for a treat, make sure it is a safe one. Look for the VOHC seal (Veterinary Oral Health Council).
- Avoid bribery – giving your pet a treat following a good behavior is a reward. Offering your pet a treat to get them to do a good behavior is bribery. Know the difference, so your pet does not become confused.
- Consider non-edible treats – as a reward for being a good companion, consider taking your dog for a walk, playing a game or just spending quality time together.
For more information on what type of treat is right for you pet, and how to reward your particular breed, contact Nor Cal Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital at (415) 413-7363.