"Treat" is a magic word where dogs are concerned.
The laziest, most disinterested dog gets a new lease of life at the first mention of the word. They turn into a different dog, and become the most loving, affectionate pup... until they're finally given their beloved treat, and soon revert back to their usual state. But, for those few seconds of happiness, we become the only person in their whole world that matters.
Much like we're all obsessed with healthy eating, we're becoming increasingly more concerned about feeding our dogs the right food. While we spent a long time choosing the main foods that we feed our dogs, we're usually happy to give them any old treat, because it's just that - a "treat".
However, in the same way that we know we shouldn't treat ourselves too much, it can be detrimental to your dog to treat them too often. Fortunately, most dogs will eat anything, including fruit and vegetables. They're the obvious pick - they're colourful, and come in a variety of textures and flavours.
Here are some of the best fruit and veg options for your dog:
Bananas make for a great low calorie treat for dogs. They're high in potassium, vitamins, and fibre, and low in cholesterol and sodium. However, as well as being packed with nutrients they're also high in sugar, meaning that you shouldn't give your dog too much at any one time.
Try feeding your small dog banana and watch them chew - it's so cute (and quite funny)!
Apples are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as fibre for your dog, and are a great snack for older dogs and puppies. Vitamin A has many benefits for dogs - it promotes a healthy skin and coat, as well as supporting liver, lung, and kidney health. Just make sure you remove the seeds and core first.
In the summer months, try freezing apple for your dog - it makes a great treat that'll help keep them cool too!
Carrot is renowned as being great for your dog's dental health. You can feed your dog sliced carrot as a healthy treat, or give them the whole thing and let them gnaw at it like a bone. For small dogs, however, we recommend slicing carrot into bite size chunks. This will help eliminate any choking hazard.
For the fussier dogs amongst us, tomato is a great starting point, due to it's sweet taste. Again, too much isn't a good thing - sugar levels, along it's acidic nature, mean that you should only feed your dog tomato in small quantities. Also, the green part of tomatoes can be harmful in large quantities, so be sure to remove that first. However, if you have a dog that will eat fruit but not vegetables, feeding your dog tomatoes can help bridge the gap between the two.
You can feed your dog regular chopped salad tomatoes, but we prefer cherry or plum tomatoes. Give it to them whole and watch them pop it with their teeth, but be sure to avoid light carpets and furnishings (don't say we didn't warn you...).
Cucumber is the ideal treat for dogs looking to lose weight. Due to their high water content, as well as little to no carbohydrates, fats, or oils, they're great for managing weight and helping boost energy levels. They're also loaded with vitamins K, C, and B1, as well as potassium, copper, magnesium, and biotin - the list is endless, really...
Not all fruit and veg is dog friendly, however, and it's important that you make sure your dog avoids certain foods. Throughout the summer especially, barbecue season is the time when food gets dropped and picked up by our furry friends.
Whilst most fruit and veg options are fine in small quantities, these are the ones you should be avoiding when treating your dog:
- Cherries: Cherries contain cyanide, which can disrupt cellular oxygen transport, meaning that blood cells can’t get enough oxygen. If your dog does eat cherries, keep a lookout for dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, and red gums, as these may be signs of cyanide poisoning.
- Grapes: Grapes should NEVER be fed to dogs. They are so toxic that they can lead to acute kidney failure - it's a definite no!
- Mushrooms: Although only 50 to 100 of the 50,000 mushroom species worldwide are toxic, the worst mushrooms can result in death. Therefore, we'd give them a miss altogether - it's better to be certain.
- Onion: Along with leeks and chives, no dogs should eat onions. They belong to a family of plants Allium, which are poisonous to most pets, especially cats. Eating onions can cause red blood cells to rupture, as well as vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, and nausea. Steer well clear!
- Raw Potato: Whilst cooked potato is ok for dogs in small quantities, raw potato shouldn't be red to dogs. Due to a high starch content, uncooked potato may upset your dog's stomach, and so is not advised.