Treats and Toys with Purpose at The Barking Cat

Chewing for dogs is a natural behavior that exercises the jaw, cleans teeth and, most of all, helps alleviate boredom and improves mental status. There are many choices in the marketplace offering healthy, delicious and fun treats and toys.

There are treats with a purpose such as dental treats designed to fight plaque and tartar build-up while improving breath as well as joint treats and supplements that improve joint function and skincare. Age is also another consideration in choosing the appropriate treat. A puppy will benefit from small protein-packed treats while a senior dog may benefit from treats that are soft and gentle on teeth. Treats can also be used to increase positive behavior through a yummy reward. Training treats should be low in calories and small, as many treats may be offered over a short time period. As a general rule, treats should not be comprised of more than 10% of a dog’s daily calorie intake. If you choose “off the table” fare, stick to healthy fruits and veggies like carrots, green beans or berries. Be mindful to avoid grapes, raisins, chocolate, onions, garlic, tomatoes, avocado, fruit with pits, mushrooms and nuts as they are harmful.

In choosing treats and toys, it’s good to consider whether they are digestible. Safe and digestible treats are bully sticks, beef tracheas, dental chews as well as Himalayan chews made of yak and cow milk that creates a cheese flavor. Hard plastic and rawhide chews should be avoided, as plastic can potentially cause an obstruction and rawhide is often laced with chemicals. A great alternative to rawhide is the “no hide chews” as they are delicious, durable and digestible. For aggressive chewers, a food-filled Kong, bully stick or beef tracheas are excellent choices. For active dogs, fetch and interactive toys are ideal for creating fun and bonding with your best canine friend. “Chuckit” toys, those that avoid ball slime, are suitable for active dogs. And don’t forget the oldie but goodies, like Frisbees and rope toys. Of course, with any treat or toy it’s important to always provide proper supervision.

If you are in doubt about appropriate treats and toys best suited for your dog, most local pet stores have staff that are knowledgeable and can make recommendations.

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By Merridee Hansen Farr, Barking Cat, Owner