Dog Treats

Should You Give Your Dog Treats?

Regardless of what anyone says, I think treats are a necessity for dogs.  Especially for young dogs who are in the process of being trained.   A treat is a reward for good behavior.  A treat can be our way of doing something nice for our dog to show them that we love them.    If you enroll your dog in a trainer class, most of the time the trainer will advise you to keep some small treats in your pocket to reward your dog with when he masters a good behavior.

Some people enjoy giving treats, while others believe it is up there with table scraps and contributes the weight gain.  I say as long as it is done in moderation and only given when called for, treats are great for your dog.

There are many kinds of treats.  There are the biscuits that are great to use for dog training and other situations.  Then there are rawhides, or pig ears for your dog.   You can make your own treats and there are even stores out there that specialize in pet treats.

I always make sure I keep my dogs treat box full of biscuits.  I usually will give him a treat after he does his business outside and on other occasions.  If we have company and he is good and does not get over excited, he gets a treat.  When we have, what I call our review time for things he learned at the trainer all those years ago,  he gets a treat.   I even keep some treats in my pocket for when we take walks and he knows to come to a full stop at a street corner.   I buy your basic treats.  I don’t get any of those treats that say they are going to cure bad breath, or fight tarter for my dogs teeth.

Some dog owners make their own treats.   Some of the loyal followers of the raw food diet will make their treats based on the diet.   Some recipes are easier to make than others and if I make mine treats as I do once in a while, I try to stick to basic easy to follow recipes.   A favorite of my dog has been peanut butter and yogurt.  I just melt the peanut butter and mix in the yogurt and then freeze it overnight.    A big benefit of homemade dog treats is that you know exactly what is going into your dogs mouth because you are the one making it for him.   It sort of follows the same point of following the raw food diet.  You can find books that contain dog treat recipes and there are even some on websites.  A few of my favorites are:

HOMEMADE DOG TREATS

1 cup warm water

1 ½ tablespoon canola oil

1 ¾ cup flour

1 ¼ cup oatmeal

¼ cup of all natural peanut butter

Mix oil and water together and add other ingredients.  Shape into a tube a child for one hour.  Slice into ¼ biscuits and cook at 300 degrees for 50 minutes on a greased cookie sheet.

FROSTY PAWS

1 32 oz container of vanilla yogurt

1 mashed banana

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons natural peanut butter.

Mix all ingredients together and fill a muffin tin.  Freeze for a few hours and then store in an airtight container.  Heat in microwave for a few seconds before serving.

Cheesy Dog Cookies

2 cups all purpose flour

1 ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

½ cup canola oil

4-5 tablespoons of water

Combine everything but the water you can mix in a food processor until it has the same consistency of cornmeal.  Then add in the water until a ball is form.  Roll into ½” thickness and cut into biscuits.  Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees on an ungreased cookie sheet.

There are countless more that you can find and even talk to your vet about.  I tend to stick to the easier recipes due to the time constraint but there are more gourmet recipes out there for you dog.

There are times when I have to step up the treats and give my dog a rawhide bone.  There are many conflicting opinions out there on rawhides.  Some feel that they are the best treat because they help fight plaque and tarter on your dogs teeth.  Some feel that they are great for puppies because they stimulate the growth of their adult teeth.  Even better, your puppy will chew on the bone instead of your shoes.

On the flip side, some feel that rawhides are dangerous for your dog.   For starters rawhides are not digestible by your dog and in some extreme cases can cause a blockage if a particular large piece or pieces was swallowed.  There can be a choking hazard associated with rawhides.  Large pieces can get wedged in a dogs throat.  Some people say that the rawhides treats will scratch your dogs throat when they are digested.

I have always given my dogs rawhides treats and have never had a problem.  There are instances where problems have arisen and there are many different circumstances around them.   Sometimes the dogs that are what I like to call chew hounds, tend to inhale the rawhides and are at the most risk for choking.  If you have a dog that is a chew hound, you might want to keep rawhides from him or at least give him the kind that are twisted or knotted.  These are a little harder to chew because they are thicker.  You also have to make sure you have the right size bone for your dog.  A large breed dog is not going to do well with a small rawhide.  That is why dogs choke, they chew on bones that are not meant for them.

How about pigs ears? Yes, they usually are real pig ears and they can smell awful but our dogs gobble them up.  This is another favorite subject debate amongst many dog owners and vets.   Some people refuse to give them to their dog because   there have been instances in the past where pig ears that came into the USA  had salomlenna poisoning.  Though steps have been taken to reassure that this does not happen again people are very hesitant to give their dog pig ears as treats.   Some people claim that pig ears are to fattening for their dogs.

On the other end of the fence,  pigs ears  are all natural pork which is a big selling point for some owners.  Another pro that has been said about pig ears is that they are tasty and tantalizing.   I’m not sure what pet owner tested them to see if this is true or not,  but I’ll take their word for it.   As for me,  pigs ears are going no where near my mouth.  Another pro is that they will not splinter or crack which is a big problem with some rawhides out there.   Some people also feel that the fat content in the pig ears is good because it promotes a healthy coat and healthy skin.   Pig ears are also 100% digestible so there is no need to worry about any sort of blockage.

I will admit, I hate the smell and touching pig ears,  but my golden absolutely loves them.   They are special treats that I reserve for every now and then.  He does not get one everyday.   A lot of people say that giving a pigs ear once a day is fine, but my dog gets one a few times a month and that is it.

Last year, in the winter of 06, there was a big uproar about a brand of treats called “Greenies” allegedly killed nearly 13 dogs.    Greenies are a brand of dog treats that are designed to help clean teeth.   They come highly recommended by vets and my vet swore by them when I complained about my dogs breath.    What happened with these Greenies nearly 2 years so is that the treat became lodged the dog’s esophagus and intestine and do not break down.   Greenies were always marketed as being 100% digestible, but at that point, there was doubt about how digestible these treats really were.  There were also instances where the dogs were choking on the Greenies.   The company that makes Greenies states that the treat is 100% safe as long as people are giving their dog the correct size.  Add to the fact that they save dogs lives by preventing periodontal disease which can lead to death in dogs.   Greenies come in at least 5 to 7 different sizes for different size dogs.   It was a tough time and it still is a tough decision to call if you should give your dog Greenies.

As for me personally,  I gave my Golden Greenies a few times and I never noticed a difference in his teeth.  Then again I’m no vet, so I do not know what to look for, but I can tell you that his breath still stunk even after the Greenies.   To me, they are no big deal.  My dog loved them.   He devoured it in about 7 minutes flat.     Even though I know if helps with their teeth, I watch I give my dog to eat now to prevent any sort of teeth problems.    Occasionally if I’m feeling really daring, I will brush his teeth

Treats are a very important part of dogs nutrients I think.  Almost all  pet owners gives their dogs treats.   It is our way of showing our dogs they are special and that we love them.   It is a way to show them that we love them.  Have you ever really watched a dog when he gets a treat or just before he gets one.   Their tails are usually wagging triple time and you can see the anticipation on their faces.   It is a great sight.    Why deny your dog treats?  As long as you are not overdoing the treats, there is no reason for your dog to gain any extra weight from them which can put your mind at rest when you are giving your dog treats.

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