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Pets Love Treats: Here’s How to Give Them Wisely

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If you’re like most pet parents, you likely want to offer your pet treats for a variety of reasons. Treats can solidify the bond with our pets, help reinforce specific behaviors, or be enjoyed as mid-day snacks. Because treats have so many different purposes, it can be helpful to have some guidelines on what, when, and how much to treat your pet.

Here are five tips to help you offer your pets the best treat options:

  1. Treats are great motivators, though it might take some trial and error to find out which treats your pet prefers.  Offer a variety of treats with different textures and flavors to see which your pet loves best.   

2. Use high-value treats as needed for stressful situations.  For example, if you typically feed your pet biscuit-type treats such as BLUE Health Bars for dogs or BLUE Wilderness Cat Treats for everyday training, when it comes to a more stressful situation, like nail-trim time, you might reach for a higher value treat such as BLUE Sizzlers for dogs or BLUE Bursts for cats. Lickable treats such as spray cheese, peanut butter, or canned dog or cat food are good high-value choices as well.

3. It’s tempting to want to give your treats often (who doesn’t love spoiling their loved ones?!), but it’s important to remember that treats should be restricted to less than 10 percent of your pets’ daily caloric intake. Because each type of treat varies in caloric density, make sure to read the nutrition label of the treats you are feeding to figure out how many extra calories your pet is taking in daily. Unsure about how many calories your pet needs? Ask your veterinarian for help in calculating your pet’s nutritional needs

4. Speaking of calories…If you want to reward your pet with treats, but are concerned about possible weight gain, then try highly palatable, smaller training treats, such as Blue Buffalo Bits for dogs. In low-distraction environments, you can also give pieces of your pet’s regular kibble as treats.

5. If you are using larger treats with your pets, try breaking them up to make their reward go further. For example, BLUE Health Bars are easy to break up into eight to 10 pieces. Give each small piece as a reward for a specific behavior instead of handing out the entire bar as one big “freebie” treat.

Many of us are spending more time at home with our pets than ever before, and it’s natural to want to treat them more as well.  Following these tips will keep your pets healthy, happy, and well “treat”-ed!

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.

Victoria Carmella, DVM, Fear Free Certified is director of veterinary scientific affairs for Blue Buffalo Company, Ltd.
This article is brought to you in collaboration with our friends at Blue Buffalo Pet Food.

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