Frozen Dog Treats for summer, use all meat not vegetable to reduce obesity
We have all seen the click temping headlines like ” 5 Frozen Dog Treats to Make for Your Dog This Summer!” because they all make it sound like so much fun cooking for your dog. And summer should be fun, but there is a way of doing it that actually benefits your dog too.
Many websites like to brag about the best-frozen dog treats for your dog, but they almost all use fruit or veggies – a strange choice for carnivore dogs. We are here to give you the truth about why those summer frozen dog treats are not ideal for your dog.
It is true that if a dog is allergic to a fruit or vegetable, and the plant is poisonous to your dog, the fruit won’t immediately harm your dog. But there are VERY good reasons why giving frozen or regular meat dog treats to your dog are 100% better – not just from an emotive point of view (something they would always choose in the wild), but from a nutrition view. And the potential to reduce obesity.
Dog Treats – how much you can feed your dog
Frozen or regular, you need to adjust your dogs regular ‘dog food‘ amount down by the same amount of kilojoules you add to their diet by the inclusion of ANY dog treats.
If you regularly walk your dog off lead, and they run around, you can obviously add more treats to their diet. But we like to make a distinction clear between healthy dog treats and regular grain-based dog treats.
Domestic Dogs already typically get 70% of their energy from 70% of grains or vegetables in commercial dog food. The reason any meat is in there at all, from a commercial dog manufacturer angle, is that the affco dog food nutrient table requires a minimum level of essential amino acids in the food, that MEAT has the high amount of per gram.
If you substitute anything besides meat-based treats into your dog’s diet (to supplement your regular dog food), that has LESS than the meat proportion of your dog food, you are likely to not reach the bare minimum protein requirement.
MORE than that, meat is bioavailable, meaning that 100g of meat is likely to have the protein utilised by your dog almost twice as well as the protein from grains or vegetables. This is because dogs are evolved from carnivore wolves and extract and utilise the nutrients in MEAT much better than any other source. This means you have to add almost twice as many carbs as meat to achive the same amount of useable protein, and that means adding twice the amount of KJ, which will lead to obesity.
One reference book I use (ref 1) (although the authors are grain based biased authors) suggests, that you can use up to 25% MEAT replacement in grain commercial dog food without affecting the affco requirements. They base this replacement amount level so low, so you feel inclined not to replace too much dog food – hence keeping dog food consumption up. But also because affco tables over recommend extra minerals and vitamin requirements to ensure that no combination of natural food can actually be called dog food – it keeps the monopoly safe.
But if you were to add a chicken neck or wing to a medium-sized dogs diet, then you could replace up to 50% of the dog food with Meat dog treats. The small raw bone addition is to provide sufficient natural calcium in the right proportion with phosphorous.
Your DOG TREAT DAILY FEED CALCULATIONS
Dog food requirements are based on a dog’s age, exercise level and even breed and weather. However most people have found the right amount to feed their dog as the dog ages and they get their exercise routine sorted. The commercial dog food packs also give a guide. Here is one example:
inactive Dog (22.7 Kg) requires 988 (KCAL of ME/Day) / 3800 Energy density (KCAL/Kg) = 260g dry food. But the vast majority of dog food has a high proportion of non-bioavailable vegetable matter in it (for cheapness sake).
Consider feeding your dog 200g of popsicles (frozen dog treat) in a day, and it was just a 200g banana pureed in water. You would find that the banana is also 75% water. A 200g banana typically has 60g of solid food in it, which is equivalent to 60g of dry dog food that you are replacing. But all you are doing is overloading your dog with MORE carbs (SUGAR) that can lead to dog diabetes etc. 200g of raw banana has 46g of carbs and 24g of sugars! It only has 2g of vegetable Protein. And that 2g will be utilised half as well by your dog as a meat source protein would be.
So effectively by giving your dog a frozen dog treat made of banana, you have to replace 60g of dog food (which has usually 30% meat) with 60g of banana that is mostly sugars and virtually no protein. You are creating a protein deficit in your dog if you want to maintain their weight.
Now consider what would happen if you used beef jerky instead as a frozen or regular treat. Yes, it provides good chewing and teeth cleaning as well, but beef like roo jerky also provides MEAT Protein, the most useable kind.
Consider the nutrition of 100g ‘Beef, brisket, whole raw’ (ref 2) – it provides 649 KJ. It has ZERO CARBS and ZERO SUGARS. it also has 21g of quality protein and is 70% water. IF you remove 65% of the water (ie use a dried meat dog treat). the beef weight is equivalent to 35 g DRIED but it still has 21g of protein (60% of the dried meat is bio-available protein) – being able to be used at DOUBLE the level of any protein in the grains or vegetable group. RESULT – when you replace dog food with beef jerky or roo jerky you are actually adding no extra carbs, only useable protein!
If you play it ultra-conservative and only feed your dog 25% of its food as dried meat dog treats then for the 22Kg inactive dog in the given example you would replace 25% of 266g of kibble. This is equivalent to 66 grams of dry beef jerky or Roo jerky and for the beef jerky example, 66g contains 66 x 60% = 40g of meat protein.
Protein is the building block of your dog’s cells and organs and muscle tissue, brain tissue GROWTH AND MAINTENENACE. If they can’t get all of the protein need from their food they will have a protein deficient where either the body parts miss our or the body starts canalising itself consuming its own protein.
Why vegetable frozen dog treats are bad for your dog
It is true that dogs can learn to like vegetables. They want to imitate their master, and every animal on earth loves sugar, even if its not a natural or normal part of their diet. And a dog eating strawberries or blueberry popsicles is more about the owner than the dog. We caution people on projecting their own nutrient requirements or tastes on a carnivore dog. Yes, strawberries and blueberries are non-toxic to dogs and fine in trace amounts in their diet, but their value is in commercial dog food is purely for advertising sake, not the dog.
The reasons that these summer frozen snacks are bad for your dog are several-fold. In summer dogs are often less active because it is hot. Their metabolism slows down too, so they are naturally likely to gain more weight, given the same amount of food as they were in winter.
But the main issue is whenever you replace any dog food with a dog treat, it should have more meat in it to actually provide a health benefit not less. And every vegetable-based treat adds kilojoules of wasted opportunity. In basic terms, 100g of meat will have the same amount of kilojoules as 100g of high carb vegetables like sweet potato or pumpkin. BUT meat will always have up to double or greater the avaiabilti8y of that protein to be used by your dog (assuming that there is any protein in the fruit or vegetable you might choose for your frozen dog treat. Some fruits are all sugar and no protein-making things much worse.
Of course, you can feed your dog vegetable frozen dog treats this summer. Pumpkin, peanut butter, bananas or anything that those ‘crazy’ websites tell you are a great idea and fun to do.
OR you can look after your dog’s health and actually substitute the high proportion of grain or vegetables they get in their commercial dog food, for food their body actually needs meat. However feeding a dog raw meat or wet meat tends to make it much easier for dogs to swiftly eat, and doesn’t clean their teeth at all. That is why we suggest dry meat dog treats, not wet – at least for feeding as a treat.
For a 22 kg dog, if you want to replace 25% of their dog food, you can either feed them up to 66g of beef, chicken, roo or fish jerky a day which means adding around 40g of quality protein they can actually use for their body. Option two is to replace up to 50% of their grain-based dog food with 130 grams of dry meat jerkies and thrown in a chicken neck/chicken wing or two to ensure they get the required calcium/ phosphorus.
We have fed our dog chicken necks for his whole life. We buy quality necks, freeze up two days of portions in a bag and make sure we only defrost and use what is needed to reduce the risk of bacteria growth as we do on our human defrosted foods.
This summer work out if you are going to go the ‘fun’ and unnatural, unusable, fruit frozen dog treats OR meat-based jerkies that will give them a good chew, clean their teeth and top up their bioavailable protein.
1 Canine and Feline Nutrition (Case, Daristotle et al)