Rewarding your dog with a treat is a great way to reinforce good behavior. Many dog owners like to purchase treats to use during training, or just as an extra special surprise for their dog. However, not all dog food treats are created equal. Some treats may be filled with ingredients that could actually damage your dog’s health! Here’s some information about dog food treats, as well as a list of some of the dog food treat ingredients that you should avoid.

Avoiding Obesity

It’s important to regulate your dog’s intake of treat-based products, since too many treats may contribute to canine obesity. If you have established a feeding schedule that provides the amount of food required for your dog’s weight class, your dog may be already receiving their proper caloric intake. This means that treats are “extra” calories, and too many treats may eventually contribute to weight gain. Since canine obesity can contribute to a large number of serious health conditions, try to severely limit the amount of treats that your dog eats per day.

Natural Dog Treats

Many dog owners opt to purchase healthy dog food treats as a reward for their dogs. Buying natural dog food treats can be a great way to avoid causing health problems in your dog. Natural dog food treats should be free of simple carbohydrates, artificial preservatives, artificial colors, chemical flavorings and animal by-products. To find natural dog food treats, you can either search online, or check at your local pet food store. Some health food stores that carry human food may sometimes also offer organic or natural dog treats for customers to purchase.

Treats for Positive Reinforcement Training

The foundation of positive reinforcement dog training involves rewarding your dog for good behavior, which is usually done with edible dog treats. However, be careful about the treats you use! Since you will most likely be giving your dog a large number of treats, stay away from any treats that have a high fat content. In most cases, the treats used for positive reinforcement dog training should be about the size of a pea. Many trainers use very tiny bits of meat or cheese as dog treats for this type of dog training. If you are using commercial treats, try to break them down into small pieces.

Treat Ingredients to Avoid

There are many types of dog food treats that you should avoid feeding your dog. In general, you should use the same standards for dog food treats as you would for your dog’s regular food formula. Here are a few of the ingredients that you should avoid in dog food treats.

Corn is not an easily digestible ingredient for most dogs. Dogs that eat a high amount of corn-based products are more likely to develop allergies, and may experience allergic symptoms. Symptoms of an allergy could include vomiting, diarrhea, fur loss, lethargy and weight gain. Corn is generally seen as a cheap filler ingredient by many pet nutritional experts.

Wheat is a grain that has a mixed reputation. Though wheat is one of the foundation grains for a human diet, it may not be good for your dog. Wheat is often used as a cheap filler ingredient, and most pet nutritional experts agree that you should not feed a high amount of wheat products to your dog. Wheat is also a common allergen, as many dogs can develop allergies to wheat products.

Soy is another of the most common allergens which may cause allergic symptoms in some dogs. Soy can be in many different forms, and is often included in inexpensive dog treats. While a small amount of soy may not cause immediate health problems, it’s still highly recommended that you avoid any dog treats that contain soy.

Artificial Preservatives
Since many pet food companies have low standards for their dog treat products, there may be chemical preservatives in some dog treat formulas. Two of the most common chemical preservatives in some dog treats are BHA and BHT.

Artificial Colors
The multicolored treats in a package may look appealing to you, but color doesn’t matter to your dog! Many treats contain artificial colors simply to appeal to a dog’s owner, and to help increase sales. Check the ingredients list of your dog’s treat formula, and try to avoid any formulas that contain artificial colors (Yellow 5, Red 40, etc).

Though by-products may not necessarily cause immediate health problems, it’s still best if you don’t feed treats with by-products to your dog. You may see ingredients such as “animal digest”, “poultry by-product meal” and “animal by-products” listed on your dog’s treat bag. Stay away! These by-products may contain waste and indigestible portions of the animal they come from.