Sharing a treat with your dog or cat can be a rewarding experience. Special treats and chews for pets can be useful to help reinforce good behavior, keep pets occupied, aid in training, or just to show cats or dogs some love. However, it can also be easy to spoil pets with extra treats while home more often during the national COVID-19 pandemic and our “new normal,” and sharing too many treats or overfeeding your pet can lead to a range of negative health issues. To help support your pet’s long and healthy life, we provide some do’s and don’ts of pet treating while home this summer:
Do: Feed Treats in Moderation
Just as you may avoid eating extra sweets and snacks while at home, treat your pet’s diet similarly. Treats and chews should be fed to pets in moderation and should account for no more than 10 percent of a pet’s caloric intake. To help guide healthy treating, check the feeding guidelines on the treat package.
Don’t: Substitute Treats for a Meal
Pet food is formulated to provide more than 40 essential nutrients that support your pet’s health. A pet food package labeled as “complete and balanced” will contain the vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, proteins and amino acids in the proper amounts for a pet’s specific life stage. These nutrients help your pet’s body functions and systems, such as vision, immune system or metabolism, operate properly and the food provides the energy dogs and cats need. Treats should not be used as a substitute for dog or cat food.
Do: Avoid Feeding Pets Table Scraps
Puppy dog eyes are hard to resist but, even if your pet wants you to slip him or her some human food, it’s important to be careful with sharing your leftovers with a pet. Know which foods are especially harmful to pets, too, like xylitol, a sweetener commonly found in toothpaste, gum, candy, or baked goods, which can cause a dramatic decrease in blood sugar, or liver failure. Other foods that you should avoid feeding your pets include onions, garlic, avocado, grapes, and fatty foods such as trimmings from meat.
Do: Enjoy the Extra Time with Your Pet!
Pets can bring many benefits to our lives, such as helping to reduce feelings of stress and loneliness. While social distancing at home with pets, show them love by taking extra walks, giving them extra cuddles and playtime, and then providing the occasional treat, to help keep them happy and healthy.