The smellier the treat, the faster Magic came running. His favorites were shaped like miniature t-bone steaks and stunk up the whole kitchen. Every time he heard the bag crinkle, he suddenly appeared before me out of thin air, sitting on his hind legs like a bunny and staring me down with perseverance in his eyes. This ritual was all very cute and fun until one day I noticed the calorie count on the back of the bag. My jaw dropped in shock– there was no way there could possibly be that many calories in one little treat!
My family worked to keep Magic in shape by taking him on brisk walks and paying close attention to his dog food intake. We couldn’t let all of that slip over a little bit of junk food, so Magic’s veterinarian recommended some safe low calorie snacks. She also reminded us that while dogs love certain fruits and vegetables, others are toxic (for example, while grapes and onions are suitable human snacks, they are toxic to dogs).
First we tried the zucchini, but Magic detested zucchini just as much as I do. The broccoli wasn’t much better, he just pushed it around on the kitchen floor with his nose and wouldn’t even give it so much as a little lick. So we tried some options that he might find tastier— he loved the apple slice with the xylitol-free peanut butter.
But Magic’s all time favorite lower calorie treat was popcorn. He would’ve eaten all the popcorn in the world if we let him. He didn’t seem to even remember his stinky dog treats now that he had such a satisfying replacement. Whenever I plopped down on the couch to watch a movie, he was right there beside me praying I would feel sorry enough for him to hand the whole bowl over.
If Magic continued to eat the high calorie dog treats, he could have become obese. Dog obesity can lead to several health issues such as joint problems, unwillingness to exercise, diabetes, and a shortened life expectancy. Even though Magic loved to eat the higher calorie dog treats and would go crazy for them, he was much better off with his healthier snacks or receiving toys and play as a reward instead.
Make sure store bought treats are not too high in calories or fat and limit the amount of treats given. Some lower-calorie treat options include: cucumbers, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, carrots, canned pumpkin, popcorn, apple slices, rice, and a bit of xylitol-free peanut butter. Make sure any snacks are dog friendly before offering them.