How to Choose Dog Treats for Small Breed Dogs
Selecting the Right Dog Treat for Small Breed Dogs is Daunting
When I got my Jack Russell Terrier, there were so many things I had to adapt to. Besides having five times as much energy as my previous dog, a Lab/Golden mix, she was 60 lbs lighter. This meant rethinking dog treats.
When it comes to food, small dogs have different needs than big dogs. They, also, have some limitations that need to be considered. It's important to find treats which are satisfying for your dog, but are good for them as well. It can be confusing with the sheer variety of treats on the market. Stand in the any dog treat aisle at the pet store and it's enough to cause a panic attack. If you keep a couple of things in mind, you'll be able to make the best selection.
How Big is That Treat?
Many dog treats are heralded as hearty, chewy, and long lasting. But, they are meant for big dogs like German Shepherds not Chihuahuas. While my dog would love to eat a huge biscuit, it can be dangerous for her. Not only is it too much food at once, it can break off in big chunks that can choke her.
Yes, I'm speaking from experience. Misha is terrified of our gardener. She barks the whole time he is working. To get past this, he decided to befriend her with bribes. The problem was what his dog bones were too big for Misha to chew. One week she swallowed too large a chunk and promptly threw it up. The next week she took too big a piece which got it stuck in the back of her mouth. I had to reach in and pry it out. After that, we keep a supply of appropriate sized bribes and hand them to the gardener when he arrives.
Select small treats that are made specific for small dogs. Many companies make treats specially designed for toy breeds. These are perfect for smaller non-toy breeds as well.
Pick Up Some Treats Your Small Dog Will Love
Misha tells me the Peanut Butter flavor is the best. But, she's open to all varieties. She loves these because they are small enough that sometimes she gets two at the same time. They are the perfect reward for my Jack Russell Terrier.
Can Your Dog Chew It?
Even if the treats are small, they may be too hard for your Yorkie to chew through. Tiny teeth take tiny bites. You have to consider whether those teeth can break up food that is hard and thick.
This doesn't mean you have to buy soft chews, though I'm sure your pup would love them. There are hard biscuit type treats that are thin enough that smaller jaws can get through them. There are some advantages to hard treats. They can help keep tartar at bay and add to overall oral health.
Select hard treats that are crunchy but not too thick. The thickness is really the kicker. If it's too difficult to break with your hands, your pup won't be able to break it up either.
Old Mother Hubbard makes dog bones in a mini size that are perfect for my 10 lb. dog. They break up in small enough sizes that I don't have to worry about choking. Also, I like the fact that they are easy to break by hand. I can make one treat seem like several.
Choosey owners have a heck of a time choosing treats
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How Fattening is It?
We all love to give our pups little snacks and rewards during the day no matter what their size. However, it can be very easy to treat a small dog too much. The difference between 7 lbs and 10 lbs doesn't seem like much, but it can be for a small breed. Two regular sized dog bones might be more than a 10 lb dog gets in an entire meal. Nobody wants to hear the words "your dog needs to lose weight" from the veterinarian. Trust me on that.
In 2015, dog food manufacturers will have to include calorie counts on dog food bags, but they don't have to supply the information on dog treats. Without that basic information, how do you know what a serving size is or how many calories are in a bone? You don't.
In this case, the smaller the better. For this reason, I like Buddy Biscuits, the Itty Bitty Size. They are only about an inch long and they're very thin. You can break them in half easily. I do this so my dog thinks she's getting more. Plus, they fit right in her treat ball.
A Good Quality, Hard and Crunchy Dog Treat
Old Mother Hubbard treats come in just the right size for dogs under 10 lbs. They are hard, but easy to break up and they come in a variety of flavors.
Who Regulates Dog Food?
I wasn't sure myself, so I did some snooping. It turns out that the FDA regulates dog food and treats just as it does people food.
The FDA regulates what each manufacturer puts on its labels. Prior to 2007, this information was fairly basic. They had to identify the name of business making or distributing the product and list the ingredients in each product. According to the FDA Amendments Act of 2007, the regulations extended to defining standards for the ingredients used in dog food that are listed on the label and setting standards for processing. They also check into health claims much like they do our food. If a product says that it protects teeth against tartar, they have to follow specific guidelines that allow that type of labeling.
As humans treat their pets more like family members, I suspect you will see dog food regulation coming more in line with people food. We spend a lot of money protecting our dogs' health. We want to make sure the food we buy serves that need.
As a side note, not all regulation falls on the FDA. Some states have their own regulations. For more information on this topic, see the FDA's article titled “Pet Food”.
Ask Yourself Three Questions When Buying Dog Treats for Small Breed Dogs
If you buy treats that fit those guidelines, you'll be able to reward your dog without worrying about choking hazards or weight gain. And, you'll have one very happy dog.
- Is it too big for my dog's mouth?
- Can my dog chew through it?
- Will it upset my dog's diet?
© 2014 Melody Lassalle