It can be hard to resist those puppy dog eyes watching you when you’re cutting up a piece of chicken or cheese.
But sneaking morsels of meat at your pup may be doing more harm than good, one expert says.
Georgia Woods-Lee, a canine nutritionist at the University of Liverpool, says that vegetables are actually the best snack for your dog.
She says this is because dogs appreciate being given a treat by their loved one more than taste, so it’s best to prioritize nutritional value over taste.
“Food is fuel more than anything else,” he said at the 2023 British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Congress.
Georgia Woods-Lee, a canine nutritionist at the University of Liverpool, says that vegetables are actually the best snack for your dog (file image)
Dogs don’t spend a lot of time trying their food. It is normally swallowed very, very quickly.
BEST PRIZES FOR YOUR DOG
Ms Woods-Lee spoke about tackling obesity in pets at the BSAVA conference in Manchester last week, according to The Telegraph.
A 2021 study from the Royal Veterinary College found that one in 14 dogs in the UK, 7.1 per cent, is obese.
Research has shown that overweight dogs have a shorter life expectancy, a reduced quality of life, and a higher frequency of some major health conditions, including arthritis, respiratory problems, heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Therefore, Ms Woods-Lee said that the best treats on the market actually come from the produce section of the supermarket, rather than the pet food section.
The vet nurse said: ‘Zucchini are my favorite because they are very, very high in water and very, very low in calories.
“They are accepted by most dogs and can literally eat them right out of their ears. There are no harmful effects from eating zucchini.’
He adds that other “watery, green vegetables” should work as well, such as watermelon, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumber, and Brussels sprouts.
However, carrots are a big no-no, as they have around four times the amount of calories as zucchini.
“A small piece of carrot is fine, but owners want to bulk up, they want to give their pets lots of snacks, so I would go for green vegetables,” said Ms. Woods-Lee.
Dogs appreciate being given a treat by their loved one more than the taste, so it’s best to prioritize nutritional value over taste (stock image)
She also recommended not feeding dogs directly from their bowl or from the fridge, as it can cause them to beg every time you try to cook or eat a meal.
Meanwhile, a study from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna found that puppies don’t like their owner better if he gives them lots of treats.
This is because they cannot recall incidents of generosity and therefore have no concept of a gift-giving reputation.
So despite the aisles of ‘fancy’ dog treats available at pet stores, experts say that love and attention are what our pets cherish most.
But on the other hand, giving your dog a small snack is an effective way to reward him during training, encouraging him to repeat good behaviors.
Another way to help combat canine obesity is through the use of food puzzles, so that instead of devouring the contents of their bowl in one sitting, dogs are forced to eat more slowly.
Experts also say that playing some quiet classical music, which has been found to make dogs less stressed, can help prevent overeating.
Humans have specifically bred dogs to be as adorable as possible, so it can be all too easy to give in and feed them a tasty cookie.
But Ms. Woods-Lee says that overfeeding through treats and during meals are major contributors to canine obesity.
She recommends weighing the kibble with a scale rather than by eye or with a cup to ensure accuracy.
Ms Woods-Lee said: ‘I can understand from an owner’s point of view why they get their pet’s diet plan wrong because there is now a huge variety available in stores and often not much guidance.
“Of course, we want the owner to buy the best quality food they can afford, and ideally not cut or change.”
Changing a dog’s food regularly can cause vomiting and diarrhea, as his digestive system needs time to adjust to the new ingredients.
It can also lead them to reject new foods and make it difficult to introduce different types in the future when they may need them for health reasons.
“If owners want wet food or dry food, that’s absolutely fine, I don’t have any particular preference,” he added.
“Dry foods, of course, are much more cost-effective, so possibly a better recommendation in this day and age when money is a concern.”
A November study also found that wet dog food contributes almost seven times more carbon dioxide per year than dry kibble.
Why do dogs tilt their heads? Is it really a sign of confusion?
Dogs rarely look cuter than when they tilt their heads to the side and give you a curious look.
But while they may seem confused, a recent study suggests that the expression could actually be a sign of intelligence.
Researchers at Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary discovered that head-swapping is the canine’s way of processing word meaning and making connections.
The study analyzed the behavior of 40 dogs when their owners asked them to find a specific toy by saying its name.
About 33 of the pets couldn’t learn the names of the toys, but seven could, and they tilted their heads when they heard their owners say it.
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Researchers found that head-swapping is a canine way of processing word meaning and making connections.