Dr. Al Townshend
It seems that we are all spending more time with our pets these days, and it has enhanced the appreciation we have for our relationship and the benefits for both pet and Guardian.
Many Guardians have experienced the improved health that comes with more time with pets. More exercise walking and playing with a pet can help control weight, reduce blood pressure, and lower cholesterol. Spending time with an animal that never questions you and always wants to please you can significantly benefit a Guardian’s mental well-being.
Caring for a pet improves self-esteem and self-image. It can help overcome the effects of isolation, loneliness, anxiety, and depression.
For pets, the happiest times are when they are with their Guardians. Whether it’s meal-time, play-time, or just sitting together while the Guardian reads a book, time together provides the pet with many of the same benefits their Guardians receive from a closer relationship.
Spending more time at home with pets has increased the interest in treats as a way to interact and pamper their beloved pets.
It’s been estimated that 83% of canine Guardians and 57% of those who care for cats and seek veterinary care also provide treats for their beloved pets. In 2021 pet treat sales in the US grew to almost 10 billion dollars in sales, due in no small part to the more significant amount of time we have all spent at home with our pets.
Finding the Right Treat for Your Pet
There are an unlimited number of treats available today, so finding the right treat is as important as choosing the right food.
- Treats should be made from the same high-quality ingredients as the food a pet is eating.
- Treats have calories too. Great tasting, low calorie treats better control weight and lower the risk of obesity.
- Treats don’t need to be large. Smaller treats and pieces of a treat can provide the same benefits as a large treat with far fewer calories.
- They should be void of artificial flavors, colors, and chemical preservatives.
- It is never a good idea to treat a pet with human leftovers that can stimulate digestive issues. It’s best to stick with treats designed for pets.
Treats should have a purpose. Many Guardians offer different treats to provide specific benefits. There are four basic types of treats based on their purpose.
The Correct Treat for the Right Purpose
There are times when the Guardian just wants to pamper a pet and provide something special. Something out of the ordinary that recognizes and enhances their special bond.
- Enhancing the regular food with a topper of canned food or raw food.
- Low-calorie, specialty baked treats designed for pets that resemble a human cupcakes, muffins, and donuts feel good and enhance the bond between the pet and Guardian.
- Treats can be an effective tool in training puppies and establishing good habits.
- Repetitive reinforcing a positive response to a command with a treat assures the pet they are doing what the Guardian is asking
- Pets need to be social and interact with humans and other pets.
- They need to understand and react to simple commands.
Rewarding positive behavior with frequent small treats is more likely to be effective than offering your dog a single large treat.
- Dogs establish habits through cause-and-effect learning, and for this reason, it’s imperative to pay attention to when and why your dog is being rewarded.
- Recognizing a job well done when retrieving or solving a puzzle reinforces desired behavior.
Treats can also have the added benefit of performing a function.
- Treats are often used as a way to add nutritional supplements to the total daily diet.
- Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM for joint support,
- Treats containing Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Digestive Enzymes can enhance digestion and support the immune system.
- Omega 3 fat treats high in fish oils, hemp seed oil, and phytoplankton reduce inflammation, support the immune system, are heart and kidney healthy and essential for healthy skin and hair.
- Low-calorie fresh vegetables such as broccoli, string beans, and celery can help fill the stomach, satisfy the appetite, and provide a natural source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- Dental treats are designed to clean plaque and tartar off the teeth, stimulate the gums and reduce the need for professional dental cleaning.
- Chew treats and toys are designed to encourage the natural chewing behavior of both dogs and cats. Chewing can reduce the risk of boredom and destructive behavior and, at the same time, support oral health and hygiene. Check out chew toys at your favorite Pet Planet store.
Treats are as important to the overall health and well-being of a pet as their food. Providing the best treats for your pet improves their quality of life and enhances the bond between pets and their Guardians.