But It’s Just a Cookie

by Angelia Oliverei, LVT

Let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy a special treat from time to time? We can sit and absent mindlessly eat potato chip and cookies.  Afterwards, we peek on the back of the cookie packaging and are shocked to see how many calories we just ate. The same concept goes for treating our furry friends.

Whether you are giving them that special cookie because they performed a trick, obeyed a command, or just because they are cute, giving our pets a treat is a pleasurable experience.  However, many people don’t realize how many calories are in just that one treat.

Dogs are happy with the reward in itself.  The size of the cookie they are receiving doesn’t really matter.  Typically, caloric intake should only be 1/10 of the total calories consumed in a day. For example, a 20-lb. dog should receive a total of 334 Kcal/day including treats and other “extras”.  The maximum treat calories should be 33 Kcal/day, leaving 301 Kcal for food allowance.

Using the example above, we can look at small size dry cookies available at most pet stores.  One small bone is 20 calories, so for our 20-lb dog, they would only be able to eat 1 ½ bones total in a day!  In the picture to the left, each hand holds 75 calories worth of dog treats, demonstrating not all cookies are made equally.

Replacing those calorie dense treats with healthier options is an easy task when you know your options. So here are some ideas.

  • Replace treats with different types of frozen or steamed veggies like green beans, peapods, carrots, squash, and pumpkin.
  • Use the pet’s dry food as treats through the day.
  • Use treat puzzles for mental simulation.

Remember with our furry friends it’s not always about how big the treat is.  The fact that they are getting a treat is rewarding. Keeping track of calories and the number of treats given can go a long way to keep weight down, our pets healthier, and help them love longer.  Healthy options are out there to help reach or maintain our goals for our friends.