Treats: a way to good health


Treats become a way for owners to interact with their pets beyond their main meal. Dr. Pradeep Rana answeres Faqs on treats from a vet’s perspective
The benefits of treats towards a dog’s health are immense. Treats not only form a means for interaction but many dogs who suffer from debilitation are recommended treats that consist a lot of vitamins and proteins. The basic source of treats varies but they mostly contain nutrition and flavour or are raw hides. Problems like suffering from weakness and calcium deficiency in pups can be resolved by giving the correct amount of supplements in form of treats. Dogs normally do not like the taste of medicine and many owners have to resort to force-feeding their pets. Here, treats play a very vital role.
Q : What are the benefits of treats?
Dr. Rana : Treats benefit in more ways than one. Mostly treats help in building antioxidant, chondroprotective and oral/dental efficacy.
Antioxidants come in treats, which contain Vitamins C and E. They help to build immune system which is very important to fight diseases in dogs and help in better reaction to canine medicines. They also help build high level of energy.
Chondroprotective is beneficial for joints since they have high level of glucosamine and chondroitin. This is found naturally in chicken, beef and eggs. Joint and bones requirements are different. Joint treats are made to lubricate joints in old dogs who suffer from joint pain. Glucosamine and chondroitin helps to make the cartilage in the joint whereas bones treats are rich in calcium, which is an important requirement in growing pups for forming healthy strong bones and teeth. On an average, a dog loses glycogen, electrolytes and antioxidants like humans, which lead to fatigue and exhaustions especially during summers. Carbohydrates, electrolytes and Vitamin E and C found in treats can optimise stamina by replacing the added nutrition in his body.
A normal Indian household have dogs on home-cooked diet which are soft food giving rise to many dental/oral problems, which give rise to gingivitis, foul smell which then lead to digestive problems. Hence dental bones and chews is a ‘must’ recommended for dogs.
Q : What are the nutritional benefits of treats?
Dr. Rana : The nutritional benefits go like this. For bones, calcium and vitamins are important. For eyes, treats must contain Vitamin A while for a healthy coat, the treat should be rich in oil and fats containment. Dental tartar leads to many liver problems, hence dental treats and treats that are low in carbs should be given till the problem is solved.
Q : What kind of treats are good for dogs?
Dr. Rana : Treats should not be changed often, unless the requirement of the dog changes. If the pet is suited to a certain treat or likes it, much variation or experiment should never be done. Treats are present in a large variation but what the owner should look at in terms of treating for health benefits should be as per the requirements of the dog. If you have a pup, give him treats for protein, if he’s a debilities old dog, give him soft treats for joints. Similarly, dogs suffering from bad oral hygiene should be given dental treats.
Q : What ingredients are mostly found in treats?
Dr. Rana : Chicken, cr de protein, crude fat, crude fibre, grounded rice, soyabean
meal, grounded oats, barley, corn syrup, glycerine,
gelatin, edible fatty acids,
dry cheese, molasses,
artificial flavours, minerals, vitamins, supplements, biotin supplements, sodium, etc.
Q : What indigents should an owner look at before buying treats?
Dr. Rana : Calcium, minerals and other requirements in a healthy canine are made more palatable with chicken and other flavours are added to make dogs like and have them. A treat should always be given in certain fix amount or else
it will definitely lead to overweight or obese pets since treats are rich in proteins and fats. A treat containing high carbohydrates tends to make a dog put on weight. You should always look for a treat that is easy to digest. Pets react to total calorie consumption so that should always be kept in mind. Totally calorie consumption given to the pet works as : Daily diet = Food + treat + supplements.
If the nutritional requirements of the dogs are kept in mind, then this cycle shall never give rise to overweight pets.
Q : What ingredients in form of treats could be harmful to pets?
Dr. Rana : Chocolates are a big mistake. Treats in small quantity are good. A biscuit is better than “roti” since they might start replacing it with their normal diet. Natural vegetables treats like veggies or fruits can be given in very small amount like half a piece of apple. Some dogs can be allergic to certain food like milk or meat, hence all owners should read carefully before giving a new treat to the pet. Look out for the content chart to avoid any unnecessary casualties. Allergy information are also given on the packet of the treat most of the time.
Q : What are the feeding recommendations?
Dr. Rana : Depends on the treat, instructions are given on the packet itself. Small treats can be given 2-3 per 10-lbs. of body weight per day.
Treats were earlier based solely on hard baked biscuits. But as more and more variety are available, a responsible owner should understand the connection between nutrition and health. Benefit of treat on nutrition is to add the missing ‘factor’.
(Dr. Pradeep Rana is a well- renowned vet in Delhi. He has
his veterinary degree from College of Vet Sciences, Hebbal, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore. He is an expert in solving queries and curing pets.)