Treats are an amazing way to build a bond between you and your animal. Whether you’re in the training process or just want to give a little extra love at the end of a long day, a treat can really show your animal you care. But with so many options and vendors on the market, it can be hard to know which treats are safe and healthy for our animals. Our full-time veterinarian, Dr. Mary Manspeaker, shared several tips to help you decide which treats to choose the next time you go shopping.
Stick with trusted food brands.
The food brands that you know and trust – often those found at a veterinarian’s office or a well-established specialty pet store – are usually a safe bet when you’re shopping for treats. These companies have been around for a long time because their products are high quality and are created with your animal’s nutritional needs in mind. You don’t necessarily have to purchase separate treats, either. A few pieces of your animal’s regular kibble can be a great treat option for rewarding or training your animal, especially if they have a sensitive stomach and you’ve found a food that agrees with them. While there are great treats on the market that aren’t produced by those brands, if you’re looking for a quick option that doesn’t require much research, stick with the brands you know and trust. Generally, we recommend you avoid small brands or new products until they are better tested in the market.
Simple proteins are best.
There are many dog and cat foods that contain new protein sources – from goat to bison and kangaroo. Unless there is a specific reason your veterinarian recommended one of these novel proteins, Dr. Manspeaker recommends you stick with one of the basics. Chicken treats are a great option, especially if your animal’s food contains chicken as the protein.
Remember your animal is an animal – and their dietary needs are different than yours.
Animals have dietary needs that are different from humans. While you may ascribe to a certain diet or lifestyle, it is unfair and potentially dangerous to make your pet follow your same diet. Dogs and cats are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and other animals. They need grains, meat-based proteins and other essential ingredients to survive. Finding treats that meet their nutritional needs, not your dietary preferences, is important.
If you’re still unsure, talk to your veterinarian.
Your veterinarian knows your animal best and will likely have plenty of treat recommendations for you. If your animal has allergies or a sensitive gut, it is important to follow the recommendations of a professional that is aware of your animal’s unique situation. You don’t have to buy the brand that they sell within their office, but you can ask for options that fit your needs and are within your budget.