According to the Kennel Club somewhere between 30% and 60% of dogs in the UK are overweight. Combined with lack of exercise, a major factor and cause of this problem is the feeding habits the British public have with their canines.
The desire for dog owners to see their pooch happy can so often lead to an overzealous approach when it comes to dishing out treats.
And while, treats aren’t bad in moderation, it is both the regularity of distribution and the contents of said snacks that pose a problem.
According to Mike Deane, one of the founders of health treat company, Huxley Hound, recently stated in an appearance on the BBC’s Dragon’s Den:
“Every year in the UK 100,000 tonnes of dog treats are sold in the UK and Ireland and around 70% of those are some sort of processed meat or a biscuit.”
Knowing exactly what type of treats are better for your dogs and which ones to avoid can play a huge part in ensuring your pet retains a healthy weight.
An increasing number of treat companies focused on providing healthier alternatives to what is already on the market are emerging.
Many of these take standard nutritional advice that could be applied to human diets and transfer that to their treat production.
This includes focusing on ingredients that are rich in fibre and protein but low in fat. This could mean swapping out processed meat-based products for vegetable-rich or fish-focused goodies.
Treats including ‘Dried Cod Skins’, ‘Sensitive Salmon’ and ‘Poultry and Potato’ replace gravy bones and pig’s ears when it comes a dog treats with these new companies. Although these types of treats may cost slightly more than the more traditional and mainstream alternatives, ensuring the nation’s pets are healthier and living longer free of simply has to be worth spending a few pennies more each month.
While there are more and more health-focused companies emerging, choosing between them can be tough. The bigger decision to make for most dog owners is what things to avoid when buying treats.
Look at the ingredients and nutritional value of the treats you buy – values are more commonly being shown on pet products just like they are on human food in the supermarket.
There are a number of things that you should consider when shopping for your doggy treats.
There is no ‘best’ place treats can come from (though obviously buying British is good for the economy), but it is more about the production points to avoid.
Jerky treats from China have previously been placed under the spotlight when over 5,000 pet food products were recalled when thousands of pets died of kidney failure and suffered other illnesses in 2007.
Some were found to contain Melamine, a manufactured additive that artificially boosts the apparent level of proteins in food.
In 2016 the Animal Health Trust issued a warning that a large number of treats coming from the Far East could be highly toxic to dog. It is probably best to avoid treats coming from China for now at least.
Just like the food we eat, focusing on products containing plenty of natural ingredients with as little unnecessary additives as possible.
Some will be needed to ensure treats can be preserved for a longer shelf-life but consider what the point of food colourings are in dog treats.
Your dog isn’t interested in the colour of their treats. The addition of colouring to ensure their gravy bones are ‘gravy coloured’ is purely for consumers and their decision making.
Just because a treat has some additives it doesn’t mean you have to avoid it completely. Extra care should be paid, if possible, to the type of additive in the treats.
Many will include glycol. This additive acts as a glue to bond the components of your dog’s treats together, all without losing any of the qualities that make them appealing to dogs.
Propylene glycol is a chemical by-product of the of petroleum production and is used at a potentially alarming level in pet foods. The FDA in America has actually banned it’s use in cat food due to the potential to cause some serious blood diseases.
Small doses are reported to be fine in dog treats, but there’s always room for better alternatives when it comes to shopping around. Look for treats that use vegetable glycerine as the agent that retains all the moisture in your dogs treats and a much healthier alternative will have been found.
The number of dog treats on the market now is massive, and there is never a definitive answer as to which ones you should buy. Just follow these tips, learn to be disciplined when it comes to distributing these nutritional extras it will stand you in good stead.