When it comes to treats for overweight dogs, it can be difficult to tell if you’re helping them to shed the excess fat, or are actually contributing to their weight issues. If you’ve read our post on how to tell if your dog’s overweight, you’ve possibly turned a critical eye on your dog, and your feeding practices, and may have even noticed your furry little pal is packing a few extra kilograms.
But what good dog owner can stand to withhold treats when they look up at you with those big, wet eyes? None, that’s how many. The good news is, you can still fit treats into a healthy doggie diet. There are a lot of options out there for healthy treats, but just like with our food, things aren’t always straightforward. One of the things you’re going to want to know is the difference between low fat treats and low calorie treats.
Pet food companies and pet owners often treat low fat and low calorie options interchangeably, even though the two are quite different. Both are marketed as “health food” for your dog, and it’s left at that. But just like healthy human snacks, healthy dog treats require a closer look before you buy in. The trick is knowing what to look for, and knowing what certain ingredients mean.
What are Low Fat Dog Treats
So your dog’s overweight. You might think the answer is simple: feed him low fat dog treats. Unfortunately, the answer is not that simple. If you take a close look at the ingredients in most low fat dog treats, you might be surprised to learn they are still quite high in calories and sugary carbohydrates.
By cutting down on meat and replacing it with sugar, it makes this treat not only unhealthy, but also defeats the purpose of helping your dog lose that extra baggage. It pays to pay attention to ingredient labels and to understand that low fat doesn’t necessarily mean healthy, and might not be the best option for your furry friend.
When should I give my dog low fat treats?
All this being said, there is still a purpose for giving your dog low fat treats. Many dogs have health issues and need certain parts of their systems taken into consideration. A dog with pancreas issues, for example, may need to switch to low fat treats that can be more easily broken down in their digestive tract, putting less stress on this organ.
Low fat treats can support specific areas of your dog’s body, and are usually recommended by a veterinarian or other dog health specialist. Because low fat treats consist of leaner cuts of meat or don’t have as much meat, fillers, etc., they make a great alternative to more complex treats that can cause problems to their already compromised state.
Keep in mind that for obese dogs, weight management needs to focus on not only high quality ingredients, but also balanced with increased activity. So bust out that doggie treadmill! On second thought, why not just head to the dog park?
What are Low Calorie Treats
Low calorie dog treats are the direction you want to go if you want to limit the amount of calories your dog is taking in. These dog treats are usually made with leaner cuts of meat, have fewer fillers, and can be given to your dog more often (was that a cheer from Fido?).
Calories from high quality animal protein, low glycemic whole grains, and fruits and vegetables are much easier for a dog’s body to appropriately process. Low calorie options also include a wider range of natural, limited, or single ingredient dog treats. These treats will help balance the calories in to calories out ratio. Just as for ourselves, you want your four legged friend to have a higher calorie output.
When should I give my dog low calorie treats?
Low calorie dog treats are excellent for training, as you can reward your pup without guilt about contributing to their weight issues. Even dogs without weight problems can benefit from low calorie treats, which can help prevent future weight problems. Of course, proper exercise is still a factor for your dog’s weight.
Depending on the dog, the balance of exercise and calorie intake will differ. A highly active puppy won’t need to worry about low calorie treats, as they’re usually burning off all the energy units they have consumed. Low calorie treats would certainly benefit an adult dog, as they’re not burning off as many calories and are a good option for maintaining your dog’s healthy weight.
Best Low Fat Treats
- Bully Sticks/Tendons - They’re low fat because your dog’s mostly chewing! They’re made from all natural protein sources that deliver a long-lasting, healthy chew. There is a wide variety available, some even coming from free range, grass-fed cattle.
- Spot farms Chicken Jerky - What dog doesn’t like some good old jerky? Homegrown in Kentucky, this chicken jerky comes in a variety of flavours, and will target unique features for your dog. From skin & coat to hip & joint, this is a great low fat dog treat with multiple benefits.
- Hagen Heritage Sweet Potato Chips - Mmm, sweet potato fries– Wait, those don’t sound low fat… but they are! Grown in Canada and the US, these slow baked slices are rich in vitamins, minerals, and beta carotene, and they have a similar texture to rawhide.
- Old Mother Hubbard Low Fat Treats - These little guys have real chicken, giving your dog essential amino acids and real veggies like sweet potato, carrots, and apple. The best part? They’re naturally low fat.
- Zukes Super Greens - Packed full of greens like broccoli, peas, asparagus, spinach, and green beans, this is a high energy, healthy treat. It boosts your dog’s immune system and has no fillers like wheat, soy, or corn.
Best Low Calorie Treats
- Zukes Skinny Bakes - And you thought cereal was just for humans! These delectable little treats are completely vegetarian and made with wholesome grains like brown rice and barley. They come in all kinds of flavours like peanut butter and banana, cherries and berries, and they’re only 2 calories per treat. Now that’s guilty eating without the guilt.
- Charlee Bear Turkey & Cranberry treats - With just 3 calories per treat, these tiny tastys are great for training, not only because they’re a good protein source, but also because they’re pocket-friendly. There’s no grease, no crumbs, and no smells to contend with.
- Fruitables Skinny Minis - What’s better than bison when it comes to dog treats? It’s not only delicious, but also a very lean cut of meat, slicing the calories to only 2.5 each. This makes Skinny Minis an excellent training treat.
- Zuke's Mini Naturals - Oh peanut butter… These moist and delicious dog treats take the cake. They’re a little higher on the calorie scale, at 3.13 per treat, but they’re also rich in antioxidants, with no artificial colours, flavours, and contain no byproducts.
- Crump’s Mini Trainers - Coming in at just 1.5 calories each, these miniature beefy bites are a high protein treat made in Canada. Their soft and moist texture make them a desired treat, and only FDA-approved chicken and beef go into the all natural flavoured ingredients.
What’s Right For My Dog?
Depending on what your dog needs, both low calorie and low fat treats are viable options. If your furry friend has health issues and requires a low fat diet, then the low fat treats are perfect for your dog.
However, if you’re looking for something to help maintain a healthy weight, low calorie treats are the better choice. With a fraction of the calories, these treats make it easier to balance the calories in, with the calories out, making them excellent for training/rewarding. You can feed your dog multiple treats without stacking those calories to epic proportions.
It seems like your dog’s been extra good as you’ve read this article. One might think she deserves a treat. What kind? Well, that’s up to you.