Treat rewards often serve as a bonding mechanism for many pet owners and their pets. As early as puppy and kittenhood, treats are typically incorporated into a pet's daily lifestyle for positive reinforcement and training purposes. But too much positive reinforcement from treats can have negative consequences.
In the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention's most recent clinical survey, 56% of dogs and 60% of cats were diagnosed as overweight or obese. This is of significant concern because obese pets are at a greater risk of developing chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis, and a decreased lifespan.
Many well-intentioned pet owners are unaware of the excessive amounts of calories that some snacks provide. For example, two tablespoons of smooth peanut butter contain 190 calories approximately equal to the number of calories that a 5lb dog should consume in an entire day.
Other health concerns associated with treats have been identified:
How then can we safely reward our pets without compromising their health and safety? Here are a few tips.
Positive interactions with our pets can come in many forms. We will enjoy their company longer when our interactions promote a healthy lifestyle. Talk to your veterinary team for more helpful tips and ideas when providing treats to your pet.
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