Supplements and Treats for Your Dog
Options for additions to your dog's regular diet
Neither supplements nor treats are required items in your dog's food pyramid. Sure, feeding or using them might make us feel like better pet owners, but the price Duke pays for ingesting all of those extra goodies can actually be quite high. How's that you wonder. The best-case scenario is a slightly expanding waistline; the worst-case scenario could involve an overdose of a supplement that he or she didn't really need in the first place.
What do we recommend? As always, caution and moderation. When it comes to supplements, check with your veterinarian first. He or she should be able to help you accurately identify what supplements are needed if any. They might also suggest ways to monitor their use and the actual effects they're having on your dog's system.
Popular canine supplements include those for arthritis relief, digestive assistance, dietary supplementation, immune-system stimulation, mental calming, reproductive support, and skin and coat enhancement. Such supplements are often fed in the form of pills or pastes. Many can simply be added directly to your dog's food via gravies, herbal powders, homeopathic pills, and oils. A word of caution though - glucosamine and omega-3 oil supplements should be used with extreme caution in diabetic dogs as they can respectively cause insulin resistance and increase the level of cholesterol in such dogs.
While your dog will potentially benefit physically from the use of a supplement, such is not often the case when recklessly doling out treats to a pretty pair of batting puppy eyelashes. Of course, your dog would argue that such treats are good for their mental state of well-being. This might very well be the case, but wise choices are still necessary. As we need to balance our intake of candy bars with a little granola every now and then, so should you offer your dog a few vegetable-based "cookies" for every cheese doodle you toss to him or her while engrossed in the latest episode of "Animal Cops."
Treats come in an almost endless array of shapes, sizes, textures, aromas, flavors, and forms. Choose only those your dog can easily consume without choking on or injuring him or herself in some other manner. If you feed rawhide-type treats in any form (which many people do NOT recommend), whether flavored ropes of basted beef or a bleached white pig's snout, closely observe your pet whenever they're actually chewing the treat.
It's possible to find dog treats that are made from 100% natural ingredients, as well as those that are free of additives, binders, chemicals, colorings, corn, dairy, eggs, salt, soy, sugar, and/or wheat. Low-fat options exist, as do sterilized, "all-USA-made and processed" bones. Treats such as nub-textured toothbrush-shaped nylon bones can entertain your dog while also serving as a functional tool to improve dental health.
For those who like to spend time in the kitchen with their dog, you can purchase biscuit-making kits that include recipes, dough cutters, and mixes containing most, if not all, of the ingredients. Bone-shaped ice trays allow you to make flavored watery treats while a durable plastic refillable ice mold provides a slowly melting self-contained bone-shaped treasure for old Duke to chew on.
If you want Duke to get a little mental and physical stimulation while noshing on his treats, invest in one of the interactive treat dispensers. Examples include a doggy gumball machine that has a bone-shaped depressor arm for your dog to push down on and a rolling ball with a "level-of-difficulty-adjuster" that dispenses your pre-recorded messages along with the treats hidden inside. You could also buy a treat tote to attach to your waistband and use small freeze-dried treats to teach your old dog some new tricks.
Maybe your dog relishes the postman-shaped butter-flavored semi-moist snacks. Perhaps pooch's preference leans towards doggy ice cream bars. Whether your cupboards are stocked with carob meringue cookies, potato-based chew bones, or energy bars made of green tea and fruits for your active dog, use restraint and don't let Duke convince you that one more raid of the canine cookie jar won't hurt anything. Instead, treat your dog to a loving hug and a good belly rub.
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