Choosing the best treats to give to your dog
When it comes to where dogs get their daily calories, CARE recommends following the 90/10 rule. That means 90% of calories should come from complete and balanced food, and 10% from treats! But there are a lot of healthy, low-calorie options your dog will still consider a treat. Most of the time, just giving the treat to your dog is more important than what you give them!
Treats are typically given as a sign of affection or when training to reward certain behavior. To most dogs, the number of treats is more important than the taste! There are some instances when high value (i.e. high-calorie or extra tasty) treats are needed, but more often, low-calorie treats can be given with the same result—a happy dog!
Are treats allowed when my dog is on a diet?
Treats are often the culprit when dogs are overweight or having trouble losing weight. We have compiled a list of common human foods that can be used as treats, comparing the good (nutritious and low calorie) with the bad (deliciously high calorie).
You may be surprised to learn where a lot of extra calories are coming from! If you are giving store-bought treats, make sure that you know how many calories are in each treat—the bag should clearly indicate this.
Click here to find the calorie content in virtually any human food.
Foods listed in the tables below are fresh, uncooked, and without any oil, butter, or other toppings. Giving your dog leftovers is not necessarily bad, but the calories will add up if you used anything to cook with and season the dish.
|Treat/Food||Size||Calories||Notes & Tips|
|Snap peas||1 cup (8 oz)||26||About 25 medium sized snap peas|
|Green beans||1 cup (8 oz)||33|
|Celery||8-inch stalk||6||This is the clear winner of bang for your buck!
|Broccoli||1 cup (8 oz)||33||About 9 medium heads of broccoli|
|Baby carrot (fresh, uncooked)||“Large”, 15 g||5||Chop or slice the carrot into smaller pieces rather than giving the entire carrot to make this treat go even further!
|Asparagus||1 cup (8 oz)||27||About 10 medium spears|
|Blueberries||1 cup (8 oz)||85||About 135 small to medium blueberries|
|Canned pumpkin||1 tbsp||5||NOT pumpkin pie filling, plain canned pumpkin. This is a winner and great substitute for peanut butter or cream cheese- but be careful—too much pumpkin can cause diarrhea or constipation.
|Peanut Butter||1 tbsp||96||Yikes! Compare this to canned pumpkin!|
|Cream cheese (full calorie)||1 tbsp||50||Better than peanut butter|
|Cream cheese (low fat)||1 tbsp||31||An even better option|
|Cheddar cheese cubes||1 cube||25||1 cube, not so bad. More than one, probably too many calories. Break one cube into multiple pieces if needed
|Pill pocket||1 pocket, capsule size||23||This is the same for peanut butter and hickory smoked flavors, capsule and tablet size
|Pill Pocket – Duck and Pea||1 pocket, tablet size||8||This belongs on the low-calorie list! Unless you have a good reason otherwise, choose this flavor!|
|String cheese||1 stick, 28 g||90||This will vary based on brand|
|Bully stick||6-inch stick||90||You know what these are, right? Click here to read the truth about Bully sticks|
|Marrow bone||100 g|
|Yikes! This should only be given as a special treat! Or, once the marrow has been eaten, replace with canned pumpkin and freeze for a low-calorie option.