Dogs are a lot like kids – they always want a good snack to munch on, and most of them aren’t too picky; if it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for them. But we can all admit that dogs are a lot less picky than kids, because most canine companions will pretty much take any scrap you throw at them. Unfortunately, not all foods are good for dogs, and indiscriminately feeding table scraps can lead to obesity and dental problems. To give your four-legged friend plenty of snacking options without compromising their health and longevity, consider the following tips.

Healthy Snacks for Dogs

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1. Limits Snacks to 10% of the Diet

First, before you start stockpiling the treats and skipping doggy meals, it’s important to remember the golden rule: snacks should never comprise more than 10% of a dog’s diet. So if you find yourself giving scraps and treats more often than regular dog foods and real meats, be sure to cut back and keep track of the ratio of snacks to real food.

2. Try Giving Your Dog Fruits and Veggies

Although dogs are typically seen as carnivores, they are rather indiscriminate in their eating habits, and most will gladly take whatever fruits or vegetables you’re willing to share. A lot of dogs like berries, leafy greens, baby carrots, broccoli, apples, and other fruits that you might not think a dog would like. Canines can benefit from fruits and vegetables making up a small part of their diet, as the fibre helps flush out toxins and clear the digestive system.

3. Dogs like Meat, Protein, and Bacon

Sometimes the healthiest snack a dog can have is just plain old meat. This can be in the form of steak chunks or dried meat jerky treats. Dogs love bacon, but don’t go overboard with it because the sodium and fats aren’t good in excess. Chicken tenders, steak cubes, and fish sticks are some examples of delicious yet healthy snacks that your dog can enjoy from time to time. Specialist pet stores like ZPETS have plenty of good examples of healthy snacks that dogs actually love.

4. Know Which Snacks to Avoid

While fruits and vegetables can be a beneficial addition to a dog’s diet, it is important to note that dogs can be allergic to certain plants or foods. Here’s a list of foods you should avoid giving your dog:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Raisins
  • Caffeine
  • Cooked Bones
  • Apple seeds
  • Alcohol
  • Avocado pits
  • Cherry pits

All of the above foods can be either toxic or hazardous to dogs, even in seemingly small amounts. Contrary to popular misconception, cooked bones are worse than raw bones because they can easily splinter and cause choking or scratching in the dog’s throat. The Humane Society has put together a more comprehensive list of foods dogs should avoid.

5. Protect your Dog’s Teeth from Harsh Snacks

Another common mistake many dog owners make is giving their dogs excessively rough rawhides, bones, and chewy toys that are really just deleterious to the dog’s teeth in the long-term. Naturally, dogs do better with softer treats that are flexible yet firm enough to provide exercise for the jaw muscles. Kongs filled with peanut butter are good examples of toys that are made to sharpen and strengthen doggy teeth and gums.

In closing, we should remind you that dogs lead relatively short lives anyway, and that a small deviation from the healthy snack regimen here and there won’t do much harm or make much of a difference. So, as long as it isn’t on the foods to avoid list above, don’t be afraid to give your dog a bit of just about anything. Just be sure to practice moderation and remember the 10% rule.

Filed under: Dog Treats and Dog Food

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