How Many Treats Can Your Dog Actually Eat?

How Many Treats Can Your Dog Actually Eat?

Author WDF Staff


Treats are very useful for dogs and their owners. Not only will your dog be thrilled with them, but they will also help you teach your dog manners and train them. However, many dog owners are not entirely sure what the correct answer is to the question, “How many treats can your dog actually eat?” Well, the correct answer will depend on several factors, and a Great Dane can undoubtedly eat more treats than a Chihuahua. Here’s how you can be sure your dog is eating a safe amount of treats.

The golden rule regarding dog food

The first thing you should know is that dogs don’t require treats. They are an addition to their diet that can be very helpful for rewarding and positive reinforcement. The “golden rule” for dog treats says, and your vet will most likely agree, they should not make more than 10% of your dog’s total daily calorie intake. Think of it this way - if your dog eats one cup of food and treats in a day, 1/10 of that cup will be filled with treats. However, you can actually calculate the exact number of calories and do the math yourself.

bone dog treats

Calorie counting

The golden rule can only be applied if dog treats and dog food contain the same amount of calories. However, if that’s not the case, you will have to calculate the calories yourself and make sure you’re not overfeeding your dog. Keep in mind that dog food and treats usually contain different calorie percentages, and 1 ounce of dog food and 1 ounce of dog treats can have a vastly different number of calories.

The good news is that most dog food bags and manufacturers include extensive feeding guides and recommendations. You can find that information on the dog food packaging or the manufacturer’s website. If you’re worried about your dog’s weight, check out this article - How heavy should my dog be? Your dog’s food packaging should include the number of calories per cup. So if your dog eats 3 cups in a day, multiply the number of calories per cup by the number of cups your dog consumes in a day. That will give you the total number of calories your dog consumes in a day. Here is an example;

3 cups a day   X   364 calories/cup   =   1092 calories/day.

Naturally, large dogs will need more calories. The good news is that the food packaging will include a guide that will tell you exactly how many cups to feed your dog based on the dog’s weight and age. If you know that information, you will easily get a total number of calories.

dog treats and rawhide

Dog treat calories

Dog treats come in different sizes, tastes, and calories. There are training treats that usually contain fewer calories because you will have to use more of them, and regular” treats, which will have more calories and a fuller taste. All dog treats should have clearly stated how many calories they contain. Some might say how many calories they contain per 100g, and some might simply state how many calories they contain per serving.

Make sure you don’t read the label wrong and overfeed your dog. Keep in mind that some manufacturers purposely provide information in a confusing way, so you don’t reduce your dog’s portions and keep buying their product.

Calculating the 10% calorie intake

We are not that good with numbers, and math always confuses us. If you know what we’re talking about, you know that calculating 10% can be difficult. Luckily, there is an easy way to calculate it - Divide the total number of calories your dog consumes in a day by 10. Here’s how that actually looks;

1092 calories/day   /   10   =   109.2 calories

That means that if your dog consumes 1092 calories a day, it can safely eat 109.2 calories of dog treats. If you pick dog treats that will tell you how many calories a single treat contains, you can very quickly calculate how many treats you can give to your dog in a day. Here’s how;

109.2 calories   /   30 calories/treat   =   3.64 treats

That means that you can give your dog 3.64 (three and a half, approximately) treats in a single day.

dog treats bone in container

Why is that important?

You might wonder why all this math is essential. We completely understand. As soon as we have to calculate something, we want to run away and do literally anything else. However, calculating how many treats you can give your dog is very important. If you end up overfeeding your dog on treats, the dog will inevitably start gaining weight. If that happens, health complications will follow; do not doubt that for a second.

The main issue you should be worried about is obesity. Dogs can quickly gain weight, especially adult dogs that are not that active. Dogs that rarely run and only go for short walks will consume more calories than they’ll spend, and if that happens, they can become obese. If they’re obese, they will develop cardiovascular issues, joint issues, and their movement will be significantly impacted. You will have to switch your dog to dog food to help them lose weight and start exercising them regularly. In the end, you will have to cut down on treats or switch to treats that have fewer calories.

In conclusion

Dog treats will be a significant part of your dog’s life. Your dog will absolutely love them. However, it is up to you to keep the dog under control. Keep in mind that treat consumption should not make for more than 10% of your dog’s overall calorie intake. The good news is that calculating the exact number of treats your dog can take is not that difficult. Plus, if you have any doubts, you can always call your vet and see what they have to say about your dog’s eating habits.

World Dog Finder team

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