Losing weight doesn’t have to mean giving up treats
When it comes to where dog’s get their daily calories, we recommend following the 90/10 rule: 90% of calories from a complete and balanced diet, 10% from treats!
Treats can be considered the splurge, but more often, the actual act of giving a treat means more to the dog than the actual treat itself. Treats are typically given as a sign of affection or when training or rewarding.
To most dogs, the number of treats is more important than the taste of the treat. There are some instances when high-value (ie high-calorie/ tasty) treats are needed, but more often, low-calorie treats can be given with the same end result—a happy dog!
How treats can interfere with weight loss plans
Treats are often the culprit when dogs are overweight or having trouble losing weight.
We have compiled a list of common human foods used as treats, comparing the good (nutritious and low-calorie) with the bad (deliciously high-calorie). You may be surprised where a lot of extra calories are coming from! If dogs get store-bought treats, be sure you know how many calories are in each treat—the bag should clearly indicate this.
Use this link to find the calorie content in virtually any human food.
Foods listed here are fresh, uncooked, without any oil, butter or other toppings. Giving a dog some leftovers is not necessarily bad, but will likely add up to more calories, depending on how the dish was cooked and seasoned.
|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.
High Calorie Treats
|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.
NOTE: We are not even including the following treats because we just don’t recommend them – ever:
- Pig ears
- Cooked bones
These “treats” carry excessive risks of causing esophageal or intestinal blockage, and many are processed in China.