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Providing treats is one of the ways pack leaders enjoy rewarding their pups – whether for maintaining calm and submissive energy, learning a command, or for being a good companion. While a lot of pack leaders spend a lot of time in selecting the right food, there are just as many who are less choosy when it comes to selecting treats. Poor quality of treats leads to health issues like obesity, especially if the treats are fatty and full of empty calories. So what are the properties you need to look for when selecting a healthy treat?
- No added sugar – Sweetener may appear under different names, such as caramel, sucrose, or corn syrup, but whatever the name, they are unnecessary for your dog’s nutrition. Regular consumption can cause tooth decay, hypoglycemia, obesity, arthritis, cataracts, nervousness and allergies.
- No added salt – This ingredient is also listed as sodium chloride, sea salt or iodized salt. Salt is an essential nutrient, but just like in human beings, excess intake can lead to health issues, such as increased intake of water, hemoglobin concentration, and heart rate, as well as restlessness and dry mucous membranes.
- No soy – This is often added in treats as it is a cheap substitute for meat protein. Unfortunately, its health benefits are fewer and it is also a common allergen for dogs.
- Corn-free – Corn is also a cheap replacement for meat with much less nutritional value. It is not a complete protein source and has known to cause muscle loss when used exclusively.
- Grain-free – Ideally, you should look for a treat that is completely grain-free. Dogs are natural carnivores and they need their protein. Dogs that consume high amounts of grain suffer a number of ill effects over time, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
- No dairy – Dairy products are one of the most common sources of food sensitivities and allergies in dogs. If your dog is experiencing symptoms of allergy, you should consult the vet on whether or not it makes sense to eliminate dairy from the diet.
- Gluten-free – Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat. It is used as a binder, which means that it essentially binds the food together. But unfortunately, it also offers little nutritional value and should be avoided completely.
- Made in the United States – While this is not a deal breaker, it is something definitely worth considering when selecting dog food. With rigorous standards of quality control, you would be hard pressed to find better quality dog food from any other country.
Remember to go for healthy treats with no artificial ingredients. Of course, every dog is different; so make sure you consult with your vet, especially if your dog has any ongoing health concerns.