Dr. Khuly’s Top Nine Healthy Treat Alternatives for Overweight Pets

Dr. Patty Khuly

Okay, so your dog loves treats. Your cat practically begs for them. But do you know how many calories are in that little sliver, slice, snausage, or snackable?

In case you ever wondered about it, you might be surprised to learn that many commercial pet treats contain as many calories as a whole cup of dog food or a half a can of cat food. And when you’re concentrating on trying to get her weight down, those kinds of calorie counts are killing her diet.

You know there must be a better way. I mean, just look at the calorie counts on some of the most common treats:

  • Milk Bones are 20 cals for the tiniest to over 200 for the bigger ones
  • BusyBones (by Purina) are around 300 for the small ones to more than 600 for the big ones
  • DentaBones (by Pedigree) are about 100 for the small, 200 for the medium, and 300 for the large
  • Small pig ears come in circa 150 calories
  • Rawhides range from 50 for the little strips to 500 or more for the big ones

I know what some of you are thinking: “It’s just 100 calories! That’s no big deal!” But if your ideal weight were only eighteen pounds, you’d probably want to re-think eating something that amounts to more than 40% of your total recommended intake. Especially if it arrives in the form of a one-bite wonder whose nutritional value is decidedly suspect.

For a reference point, consider that the average cup of dog food contains about 300 calories. Only then can you see how quickly just a couple of treats can add up.

So how do you handle a situation where your overweight pet wants treats (because you’ve essentially trained him to love them), but you don’t want to continue to contribute to the health threat represented by her rotund abdomen?

Here’s where I offer you the list I promised. Consider that all of these healthful alternatives are treats almost anyone can train their pets to adore:

  1. Green beans are only 23 calories per half cup!
  2. Broccoli florets are 20 calories per half cup. And they’re especially beloved by dogs who are trained to love them early on.
  3. Baby carrots (also called carrot nibblers) are usually 4 calories per piece. How easy!
  4. Apple slices (now available pre-cut in most supermarkets) are 32 calories for half an apple’s worth.
  5. Cantaloupe cubes are 30 calories per one half cup. You’d be shocked to know how much some cats love cantaloupe!
  6. Canned pumpkin is a marvelous source of fiber and, at only 40 calories per half cup, it’s a treat worth celebrating!
  7. Air-popped popcorn is the best. At only 15 calories per half cup, how can you go wrong?
  8. Peas are awesome. At about a cal a pop, they’re amazing. Fresh or frozen, they’re adored by dogs and cats alike.
  9. Cheerios are for kids, but they’re also great training treats. Cats love ‘em too. And, at only 14 calories per eighth of a cup, who can refuse?

Not only are these treats generally enjoyed by pets, they also provide an excellent outlet for our human need to ply them with yummies. What’s more, they’re all about healthy ingredients. I mean, why would you give your kitty or pooch a highly processed treat when you can offer them a simple delectable instead?

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