The word “treat” is not generally synonymous with “healthy”. Most treats for pets, and for people, come in packages and are laden with fat, salt, and sugar. All pets love prepackaged treats, but did you know that most enjoy fruits and vegetables too?
Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, certain properly prepared fruits, veggies, and other pantry staples make wonderful alternative treats for dogs and cats. When deciding which of the many healthy treats to offer your pet, it is absolutely vital to keep in mind that some people food is toxic to pets and therefore strictly off-limits, such as grapes, onions, chocolate, and macadamia nuts to name a few.
The following is a list of our favorite, vitamin-packed, low calorie, and pet-friendly fruits and veggies:
- Apple (seeds and core removed)
- Sweet potato
- Popcorn (plain)
- Catnip/cat grass
- Spinach/ leafy greens
- Cooked beans
- Plain rice cakes
The Best Way To Serve Healthy Treats To Pets
Most of these foods are best served cooked, plain, and cut up into small pieces to prevent choking. Only offer small amounts to your pet at a time to avoid overeating.
Have fun experimenting with different preparation methods such as steaming, roasting, or freezing. You may discover that, much like people, pets have taste preferences, and some can even be downright finicky when it comes to healthy treats (maybe Fido will only eat cooked apples or frozen bananas, but prefers his carrots raw).
A Treat Is Just A Treat
While the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants found in fruits and veggies are good for your pet, these items are still treats and should only be offered occasionally. Treats, even healthy ones, shouldn’t make a significant contribution to your pet’s daily nutrient intake, nor should they dilute or imbalance your pet’s regular diet of high quality, species-specific pet food.
Kitchen-loving pet parents can take healthy treats a step further by combining ingredients to come up with their own pet-friendly goodies. Oats, carrots, banana, pumpkin, and peanut butter (Xylitol-free, of course!) are just a few of the healthy and delicious ingredients that can become the backbone of a homemade pet treat.
Alternatives To Edible Treats
Treats need not be limited to food items! Any activity your pet enjoys can be considered a treat, whether that is attention, grooming, playtime, learning a new trick, or offering warm words or praise. Non-food treats create positive feelings and support bonding between you and your pet, not to mention they are calorie-free and cost nothing!
If you have any questions or concerns regarding healthy treats for your pet, don’t hesitate to give us a call!