Healthy treats for dogs

Dog sat in kitchen waiting for treat

Whether your dog is on a diet and you’re helping them lose weight, or you just want to keep them in good shape, these cheap homemade snacks are nutritious, low calorie and can help your dog maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Tips for healthy eating

Just because you’re trying to keep your dog healthy doesn’t mean that you need to stop giving them treats. However, it does mean that you should watch what you give them and how often.

  • If you do want to give treats, make sure that they are not high in fat, salt or sugar
  • When giving treats, make sure you include them in your dog’s total daily calorie intake to balance things out
  • Always ensure that any homemade snacks that you give your dog are cut up into small chunks. This can make them last longer and stop them from getting stuck in your dog’s throat
  • Try putting your dog’s snacks in a food puzzle. These toys slowly release food when they are moved around or played with and are a great form of mental stimulation

Find out more about creating and maintaining healthy feeding habits.

Protein – helping your dog ‘meat’ their weight loss goals

Treating your dog to lean meat is a guaranteed way to grab their attention and keep them feeling fuller for longer. Plain boiled chicken breast with no added seasoning or oils is a great healthy snack. It helps build muscle, is gentle on the stomach and the omega-6 fatty acids it contains help to keep their skin and coat healthy too.

You could also try giving your dog salmon  as this is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but it’s much higher in fat and ideally should be given occasionally and in small amounts.

Always avoid giving your dog processed meats that are high in fat and salt.

Kibble - for when they just want a nibble

If your dog is on a prescription diet, or a special low-fat diet, then giving them a small amount of their normal dry food can be a great way to give them a treat without risking their health. Even if they’re not on a special diet this is a good way to give them a snack that’s low in calories. Always ensure that the amount you give them is included in their daily allowance.

Peanut butter – your dog will go ‘nuts’ for it

Peanut butter is a great source of protein. Dogs love it, but you have to be careful which type you use. Always avoid feeding them peanut butter that is high in salt and sugar and should not contain artificial sweeteners. An artificial sweetener called xylitol is particularly dangerous and can be fatal to dogs and may be listed as birch sugar or E967. If you’re not sure it’s safe then it’s best to avoid it.

Pumpkin – helping you ‘carve’ out a healthy diet

Pumpkin and squash are packed full of fibre and vitamins that help keep your dog regular whilst also giving them a healthy-looking coat. You can cook the flesh of these fruits, but make sure you remove the seeds and rind too. You can also give your dog unsweetened tinned pumpkin.

Apple – a very ‘a-peel-ing’ snack

Apple slices are a tasty crunchy treat for your dog. They're full of fibre and nutrients and may even help to freshen your dog’s breath. Apples are higher in sugar, so should be fed in moderation. Always give apple slices, because a whole apple could be a choking hazard. The pips should always be removed as these could be poisonous in large amounts or if eaten regularly.

Vegetable snacks for dogs – keeping your dog ’full of beans’

There are several vegetables that you can give to your dog either cooked or raw, including:

  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans

Remember any fruits or vegetables should be cut into very small pieces, especially if your dog tends to swallow food whole rather than chew it. As with all foods, remember to give these snacks in moderation. Certain foods, particularly broccoli, can cause stomach problems if too much is eaten.

Where can I find healthy, homemade recipes for my dog?

We've put together a number of healthy recipes that you can give to your dog as an occasional treat:

Foods not to give your dog

Dogs are affected by certain foods in a different way to us and there are a number of human foods that can be very dangerous to them, including but not limited to:

Find out more about foods that are poisonous to dogs.

What’s the healthiest way to help my dog lose weight?

Although obesity is very serious and both diet and exercise are vital in helping your dog to lose weight, it is important to remember that weight loss should always be done in a gradual and gentle way. Always speak to your vet about the best ways to help your dog lose weight.

Find out more about how to manage your dog’s weight.

Important things to remember

  • The snacks we’ve listed above should only be given as treats and shouldn’t be used to completely replace your dog’s usual balanced diet
  • Even though these snacks are healthy always remember to give them in moderation
  • If possible try to give organic fruits and vegetables
  • If your dog is overweight, or requires special food, always speak to your vet about which snacks to give and any lifestyle changes that you may be considering

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