Treats- or How To Choose Better Treats

Lead Reporter, Zeppelin, just got back from the vet. 81 pounds.

Now, a greyhound is a big dog. To be fair, they are narrow in appearance when you stand in front of them head-to-head, but they are well muscled, tall, and come with a pointy snout with pointy teeth which small children tend to get intimidated by. I'm surprised how many people (myself included, honestly) are baffled by the size of these prime racers. Males can range from 65-80 pounds; females are generally smaller ranging from 55-65 pounds. On TV, they just look tiny and skinny.

Zep, though in the normal limits for some of the larger Greys, has a few extra ticks on the scale than we'd prefer to see. Some of the extra baggage is due to our walking schedule (or lack thereof since it's winter in New England), the extra treats he's been getting as a result of Sadie having to have treats for her pills (see Lyme Disease Post), and the treats we've been giving them. Pupperoni & Beggin'Strips, though tasty, are basically Twinkies for dogs - and since he has a sensitive tummy, it's been a messy winter, if you catch my drift.

So we decided on a different route. Around this time, Dog Time Media contacted me to see if I would be willing to review some treats from Vitalife. I figured, at this point, it couldn't hurt, and I've been wanting to do a post on treats for awhile. Zep has a sensitive stomach, so he can't have too many of the rich treats anyway. I tried some products from Vitalife to see if there would be a difference. Let's take them one by one:

Chicken Tenders (Strips)
These chicken strips are exactly what they say they are. There are no by-products, fillers, preservatives - nothing. Just chicken, chondritin and glucosamine. These are great for Sadie's hips and Joints, and they are low fat. No one got sick, everyone loved them .... and by everyone, I meant the dogs. The cats even wanted in on the action, so they got a tiny nibble each and loved it.

As a dog trainer, I like these as training treats. They do break apart easily, are crunchy, healthy, and easy to dispense. I also like to give the big strips to the dogs as I'm leaving the house to give them something to work on as I close the door behind me. Versatile treats and healthy.

Duck and Sweet Potato Twists
Now these were well worth the price of admission. If I hold up two bags of treats, both dogs will nose and dig at the one with the duck / potato treats. Each treat is about 1/2" in length, has a piece of sweet potato wrapped in a duck strip. Zep LITERALLY had drool pouring out of his mouth, and onto the poor cat sitting obliviously below. Again, no colors, artificial flavors - just duck and sweet potato. Again, no post-treat mess, easily digested, crunchy (better for their teeth) and a short list of ingredients: duck, sweet potato.

Not so good for training sessions in a class or private session as they don't break apart, but they are relatively small - so you can give a couple for managed good behavior or to put in a Kong to keep your pup occupied. They are great for teeth (most crunchy things are generally good for teeth) and they have a veggie snuck in the middle of the duck. Brilliant!

Chicken and Banana
I have TRIED countless times to sneak banana into their food. The potassium is good for them, but like the Boyfriend doesn't like mushrooms due to texture, I suspect the same is true for the dogs and banana.

However, if you wrap a dried banana chunk in a chicken strip, they will do flips and tricks they didn't know they could do. Interesting. Why didn't I think of this before?!? I don't think this was their favorite treat - they seem to prefer the duck, then the chicken strips, but they will take these treats and eat them if the other two are not presented, will work for them, and will come back for seconds. I'll take that as a good sign. It's a good way to sneak in potassium.

These ones are a bit smaller than the Sweet Potato, so you could conceivably use them for training a new trick. They are perfectly fine as a reward for a known behavior, to put in a Kong, or just because you can.

So that's that. I like that all three are low in fat - no digestive issues from our Lead Reporter, and our Editor in Chief has been able to stay between 41-43 pounds with limited exercise and her extra treats to take meds. All in all, I think these treats are a huge success and I would gladly recommend them to anyone who is looking for a healthy alternative to more commercial treats.

If you are looking for better options in treats, there are a few things to look for:
-Is the list of ingredients more than 5 ingredients? The more ingredients, the more likely these treats are Twinkies for Dogs. Fun for an occasional treat, but likely of very little nutritional value.
- Are there artificial colors, preservatives, flavors?
- Why are you needing treats? Training? Goodies for good behavior? Kong Filling? Look to what you are trying to do with the treats, and pick one based on your needs.
- Does your pet have digestive issues? Talk with your vet about Protein/Fat requirements for your specific pet. Try lower fat treats and see if there is a difference!

Zep just got weighted one week after his visit, and he's down a pound. We've upped his exercise and switched the treats, and everything is working out just fine.