Most dog owners are familiar with the god-like power of carrying a pocket full of treats - when to dispense them, however, is more of a personal choice.
Whether you hide treats around the house to keep your dog occupied, use them as positive reinforcement during puppy training, or just can’t help but sneak your dog a treat whenever they’re looking extra cute, those treats can certainly tally up throughout the day if you don’t pay attention.
Do you know how many treats you should feed your dog to keep them happy but also lean and healthy? Read on to learn more about the recommended treat allowances for specific ages and sizes of dog.
The key thing to remember is in the name - ‘treats’ - meaning something that should be offered on occasion and usually in reward for good behaviour. On the whole, most vets recommend 10% of a dog’s daily calorie intake can come from treats.
The number of treats depends on the recommended calorie intake of your dog, based on their breed, age and condition. This means it can change if your dog is suffering from illness, is underweight, overweight or particularly inactive, for example - so be sure to calculate based on your dog’s specific needs.
This can be tricky to work out in practice, as most dog treat packaging doesn’t specify how many calories per treat - at Pooch & Mutt we make that easier for you by providing a recommended number of daily treats on the side of the pack.
See below for how that breaks down by dog size.
As a general rule, a small dog eats small meals! So it’s important not to overload your pint-sized pooch with too many treats. A small dog weighs up to 10kg on average, and includes breeds such as Yorkshire Terriers, Shih Tzus and Chihuahuas.
Small dogs have a recommended calorie intake of around 200-275 calories - so around 20-30 calories can come from treats. Using Pooch & Mutt Calming Probiotic Meaty Treats as an example, that’s up to 10 treats a day.
A medium dog weighs in at around 11-25kg and includes breeds such as Border Collies, British Bulldogs and Basset Hounds. With a recommended calorie intake of around 275-500 calories a day, and using the 90:10 basis for food vs treats, that amounts to about 20 treats per day.
A pooch is considered a large dog when it weighs anything over 25kg, and includes breeds such as Newfoundlands, Great Danes or Bullmastiffs. Naturally, the big pooches have a larger recommended calorie intake of 700-1000 calories per day (depending on size) which equates to around 20-30 treats per day.
If your dog is giant - a particularly large Burmese Mountain Dog, for example, we still recommend not going beyond 30 treats per day.
You may be using treats to train your adorable new puppy, and when it comes to pups the 10% rule still applies, based on their recommended calorie intake. For example, if your puppy weighs 4kg, you’ll be looking at an intake of around 200 calories a day, 20 of which should come from treats.
By feeding a puppy the healthiest treats possible, such as our organic grain-free dog treats, you can be sure they’re getting an added boost of nutrients (as well as tastiness) alongside their normal food.
Again, the word ‘treat’ is a big clue that they’re not something that should be fed as often as normal food, but in moderation. Though the occasional treat is a great way to reward your dog and provide some interest in their diet alongside regular meals, it’s important not to spoil them.
Just as a human would suffer, health-wise, if they replaced most of their food with crisps and sweets, a dog won’t get the amount of nutrition they need, and will probably gain weight, if they’re being sneaked a strong stream of treats throughout the day.
Give dogs treats in moderation, and usually for positive reinforcement. This means they should be calm and well behaved at the time, as using a treat as a distraction when they’re hyper or misbehaving is a mixed message that will encourage negative behaviour.
It’s also advised to never give your pooch a treat during mealtimes - the treat will make normal food seem boring to your dog in comparison, and they’ll come to expect them for every meal!
You don’t have to feel guilty for spoiling your dog now and then - they deserve it! However, looking after their health by feeding them well is an even bigger demonstration of love for your perfect pooch.
Treats for dogs can be delicious yet still contain high-quality ingredients with added nutritional goodness. Our Pooch & Mutt range of natural dog treats are packed with probiotics and healthy ingredients to encourage calmness, dental health and improved skin and coat condition.