Caitlin UltimoFood & Treats / Nutrition

Every Dog Deserves a Treat—Especially on National Dog Biscuit Day

You adore your dog, so of course you want to spoil him at every turn. Giving dog treats like biscuits and chews is a great way to show your pooch love as well as offer him a present for a job well done. “If you’re working on the sit command and your dog is motivated by food, giving a treat is smart because it’s easy to deliver this fast reward,” explains Stephanie Liff, DVM, medical director of Pure Paws Vet Care in New York City. And when you do offer a little bite, make sure it’s a healthy one. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Trail Treats are a healthy option, and they contain natural ingredients like duck, salmon, turkey and flaxseed.

In honor of National Dog Biscuit Day, here’s what you need to know about giving treats to the furry members of your family:

When to Give Treats:

Did your new puppy finally go on the pee-pee pad? That deserves a treat! You can also use treats to train your dog to stay off the couch, stop chewing your shoes and signal you when he needs to go outside. “Dogs are highly motivated by food—especially little tidbits,” says Jeffrey Levy, DVM, a veterinarian in New York City. If your dog goes for sweet potato and venison flavors, Natural Balance L.I.T. Limited Ingredient Treats are a good pick.

Why Treats Work:

Dogs are pretty smart—but they’re also animals who tend to focus on food. Because of this, once your dog learns the word “treat,” you’ll be able to control over how to train your dog. Trust and understanding can also be achieved during training sessions that include treats. Your pup will come to count on a yummy bite if he listens and does the dog behavior you’ve asked of him.

What to Look For:

When selecting a training aid, consider nutritional value and be sure there’s a reasonable amount of calories, advises Levy. “And of course you should always avoid substances harmful to the canine metabolism, like chocolate,” he adds. Shop for treats without artificial preservatives or colors, and try to focus on those that have a short ingredient list.

How Many to Give:

It’s common for excessive treats to cause obesity, notes Liff. “Not only can too many treats lead to extra pounds, but giving them in a short period of time can cause gastrointestinal upset,” she says. Offer just a few each day or break larger ones into smaller pieces when you’re conducting a training session. Nutro Ultra Wild Blueberry & Pomegranate Biscuits Antioxidant Blend is a great choice. These are full of superfoods plus salmon, farm-raised chicken and pasture-fed lamb, which are great for dog nutrition.

Which Dogs Shouldn’t Have Treats:

As with any dietary change, check with your veterinarian before offering new treats. You can also contact your pet doc if you’re not sure which ones are best for your particular pooch. And while certain pet health conditions warrant careful consideration, nearly every dog is worthy of a little treat now and then. “I think every dog deserves to be loved, and treats are part of delivering that feeling,” says Liff. We like Old Mother Hubbard Gourmet Goodies Soft Bakes with Applesauce & Oatmeal because they’re made from high-quality ingredients and they look just like homemade cookies!

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