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How to Choose a Healthy Pet Treat

By Julia Williams

When I give my kitties their nightly snack of TidNips treats, I feel like the best Cat Mom in the world. It’s not because they love these treats (well, of course they do!) or that they all prance around the kitchen doing the feline version of Dancing with the Stars (it’s quite the lavish production!). It’s not because their exuberant meows and purrs let me know they think these things are the best invention since catnip. It’s because I know I’m giving them a treat that not only tastes good to them and makes them unabashedly happy, but they’re healthy for them too. June Cleaver would approve of TidNips, I’m sure of it!

As we all know, our pets –though most are highly intelligent creatures capable of doing amazing things – can’t as yet read nutrition labels. I wouldn’t put it past them to learn how to do that one day, but right now their only criteria for food and treats is that they taste good. Smart humans that we are, we know there are lots of things that taste good but aren’t necessarily good for us. Sure, sometimes we eat them anyway simply because we like the taste. And while I suppose you could do that with pet treats too, there is no reason to – because good, healthy treats exist, and your pet will love them just as much as any treat that has icky ingredients they shouldn’t be eating.

If a responsible pet owner goes to the trouble of feeding a high quality food because they want their four-legged friend to be in good health, why wouldn’t their standards be just as high for their pet’s treats? One reason is that while many pet owners will take the time to carefully research a particular brand of pet food before deciding to buy it, they don’t always do the same thing for treats. Pet treats are sometimes viewed as the potato chip or candy equivalent, i.e. a “treat” so it doesn’t have to be healthy. Personally, I view treats as an important part of a healthy diet, and I wouldn’t buy my cats “junk” treats even if they meowed for them by name.

Choosing Healthy Treats

The absolute best, easiest way to make sure you are choosing a healthy treat for your dog or cat is by reading the nutrition label. Most of us have learned how to decipher what’s on the labels of our people food packages, because it helps us make better choices and lead healthier lives. I don’t really have serious health issues where label reading would be mandatory – such as allergies or a disease like diabetes – yet I’ve made a habit of reading the label on everything I put into my cart. I don’t scrutinize every package down to the last tiny detail, but I read enough so that I can tell if it’s a good choice or a bad choice.

Many of the same label reading guidelines I follow for my food are applicable to pet treats. Such as, if the ingredient list is a mile long or contains all sorts of strange things that sound like a weird science experiment, it’s probably not a good choice. Just as it is with our ingredient labels, simpler and shorter is always better. I would steer clear of treats with chemical preservatives, byproducts, fillers, corn, wheat, gluten, and excess fat and sugar. 

Look for cat and dog treats with natural preservatives as well as antioxidants, essential vitamins and other ingredients specifically designed to improve your pet's health. The CANIDAE line of treats for dogs and cats all have Omega-3 fatty acids to help support a healthy skin and coat and a strong immune system, and Vitamin E, an antioxidant. Snap-Bits™ and Snap Biscuit® dog treats also have peppermint for fresh breath. These nutritionally complete treats are low in calories and fat, and high in protein.

I give my cats their TidNips every night as their before-bedtime ritual, and I factor this additional food into their daily allotment to keep them from becoming overweight. I’m no June Cleaver, but I do try to be a responsible pet owner, and that means giving my cats healthy treats that are good for them. If you’ve never tried the TidNips, now is a good time because CANIDAE has a Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupon for both the dog and cat formulas. I’m all stocked up, because I know there would be a feline riot here if I ever ran out! 

Photo by ehpien

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