Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pibbles and Treats

For some reason, we humans tend to associate showing our love for our dogs by giving them treats. We are probably doing them one of the worst disservices possible. They love them, yes, but if given too many, it can lead to obesity and other health problems.

It is good to show your dog love and affection - and what better way than to give him/her your time? Play with them, snuggle with them, pet them, and so on. A great way to keep them interested in toys (without hurting your budget) is to only keep so many out at a time. Every few weeks, gather up a few of the toys you've noticed they aren't playing with as much and put them away. Bring out a few toys to replace them from your toy box, and they'll act like the toys are new all over again! Now, I know that, like me, you'll still want to give your dogs treats, if for no other reason than that little bit of peace and quiet. Let's talk about some good treats for your dog, particularly pit bulls and other heavy chewers.

Pit bull jaws don't lock, but they do have very strong jaw muscles. This means that just any toy or treat won't do.

Bones - Hard, weight-bearing bones like femurs are great for teething pit bull puppies, but I don't recommend them for full grown dogs. They can crack a tooth and the bones will splinter.

Chews - One of my favorite chews is Nylabone Healthy Edibles. They are all natural (gluten-free and no preservatives) and long-lasting. They are also made in the USA. Nylabone (and Kong) also make great toys and chews for all life stages of your dog. Do NOT give your dog anything meant for a puppy - puppy products are softer for teething puppies and can harm your adult dog's teeth. Adult dogs can also destroy puppy items quickly and choke on the small pieces. Bully sticks and antlers are also great chews for your dogs. Make sure you buy the bigger bully sticks because they can easily choke on the little ones. Ears contain too much fat and rawhide is definitely a no no! Many dogs, including pit bulls, aren't prone to chewing up things they want to eat, and rawhide is easy for them to choke on. It can also cause digestion problems that could lead to surgical intervention!

Training Treats - Look for natural ingredients. If you wouldn't feel safe eating it, don't give it to your dog. The grossest thing my pibble eats is Snausages. I've posted the ingredients below. It's not horrible, but it's not good, either. I use them in moderation because it's the only thing (short of cheese) that I have found that he will accept as a training reward on difficult commands.

Nutro Natural Choice Crunchy Treats - They come in carrot, apple and blueberry with no wheat, wheat gluten or corn. I used the blueberry with my deaf dog because the smell was so strong! Always check the ingredients of the treats you are thinking of using. The packaging can look great, but the ingredients may be horrible!

Toys - Back to the toys...almost any toy is okay for your dog as long as it is not small enough for them to choke on and doesn't have lots of tiny pieces that can come off for them to swallow. Make sure you supervise them with any and all toys, and take away toys that have been damaged.

Number 1 Rule - Moderation. Treats are just that - treats. They aren't a substitute for play time and/or training time, and they aren't to be used to "make up for" not spending enough time with your dog. Too much of even a good thing is a bad thing!

Another Number 1 Rule - Avoid China like the plague. I know it's hard, but don't buy your dog any treats or toys from China. Haven't you heard about the Waggin' Train problem? Waggin' Train makes their treats in China, and there have been many reports of dogs getting sick, even dying, from eating these treats. Guaranteed, anything made in China is substandard and shouldn't be given to your pet.

Do you have a great treat or toy that you've discovered? Share it below!

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