What would life be without delicious food and tasty treats? Whether an emotional eater or health conscious occasional treater, everyone can relate to the joys of stepping outside of a strict diet. And boy do we want to share the pleasures with our pets, but before you go overdoing the pet treats, the Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFI) would like to share a few pointers on responsible treating:
- A complete and balanced diet is made up of every morsel that passes your pet’s lips. This includes their daily food ration given at meal time plus any and all treats that are given or used during training plus table scraps. To calculate your pet’s daily food intake one must consider it all and ensure that the total meets your pet’s individual energy requirements (which differ based on the foods fed, the age of the pet, the breed, life stage and lifestyle).
- Treats should never be given in place of a complete diet but should rather compliment full nutrition. To ensure you’re feeding the best that you can afford buy PFI member brands, as they have committed to international standards of quality & safety in pet nutrition and to always put the safety of your pet first. In this way you can be sure that your pet is getting the right combination of nutrients, vitamins and minerals on a daily basis. Treats should then make up no more than 10% of a pet’s diet and his normal food ration should be adjusted accordingly.
- Pet appropriate treats are recommended over table scraps and bones. There are numerous human foods that pets should not eat, that may pose a health risk if ingested.
- It’s important to note that, legally, only pet food treats that make a nutritional claim need to be registered with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The PFI does however request that its treat producing members do register, regardless of whether or not they make nutritional claims, so the safety of your pet is better taken care of when treating with a PFI member brand.
- A complete and balanced diet should always be accompanied by fresh, clean water daily and regular exercise to assist in maintaining a healthy weight.
Treats really do have their place in your pet’s daily life. Used as a snack or they can be great motivators for training new behaviours or dealing with unwanted behaviours and offer your pet moments of positive reinforcement throughout the day, strengthening the bond that you share. Just remember that you are responsible for your pet’s wellbeing, including assurance that their energy requirements are being met. Both over and under feeding a pet are harmful to their health.