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There are so many ways to treat your dog - training treats, soft chews, biscuits, you name it. The variety is vast and dogs are luckier than ever… but what about puppies? A question we get a lot at Smart Cookie is whether or not it is safe for puppies to enjoy the treats labeled for “dogs.” The short answer is yes, but here are some things to keep in mind:
In case their carnivorous nature wasn’t enough of a hint, protein from meat sources is the vital baseline for dog and puppy diets. Animal based proteins provide nutrients by feeding the “microbiome” - which feeds your dog! This gut bacteria, when fed properly, is responsible for producing digestive enzymes that break down nutrients as well as important vitamins such as B12 and thiamine. The term given to poor microbiome health is called “dysbiosis,” and it is known to be caused by processed foods, GMOs, and antibiotics. When a puppy spends its developing years ingesting these types of products, it gains a higher risk of developing dysbiosis in the future - regardless of diet. This is why it is more important than ever to only feed your dog foods with whole ingredients.
A great treat to start with are Smart Cookie Regional Bites. Each flavor (Rabbit, Wild Boar, Trout) is sourced regionally with antibiotic-free proteins and regionally sourced ingredients. These treat's soft texture and bite-friendly size makes them an excellent choice for training.
For both puppies and dogs alike, no more than 10% of their daily caloric intake should be from treats. That being said, it might be wise to be sparing on the high-calorie treats such as Milk Bones. On average, dogs need about 25-30 calories per pound per day, but big name brand biscuits can have over 100 calories per treat! Plus, much of the caloric intake from commercially produced biscuit style treats comes from simple carbohydrates that can contribute to weight gain.
A better option for a high-value reward treat would contain complex carbohydrates. Carbs and fibers like oats and quinoa provide long lasting energy that feeds the microbiome for hours, but still satisfy the high-value reward perception for your pup. For some puppies who love to chew, a crunchy cookie is a must. Check out these biscuit style treats made with beef and quinoa. They satisfy your puppy’s need for energy as well as their need for cookies.
Now for the real reason you’re wondering about puppy treats: the massive quantities of treats required for obedience lessons. Since treats are the ultimate motivator, they are needed very frequently to affirm training techniques, especially in the early stages. But how can you trick and treat without stuffing your pup up with calories? Bite-sized single ingredient whole foods! Carrots are a great option for drilling tricks all day with no caloric consequences. Not all dogs would roll-over for a carrot or sweet potato, however. But fear not, our Rabbit Jerky Training Treats are easy to digest, low calorie, hypoallergenic and a fantastic source of protein, not to mention that puppies (and dogs) go absolutely nuts for them.