what treats are best and worst for dogs? how much and many treats to give a dog a day? simple tips about dog diet from canine nutritionist / perfect cocker spaniel (C) english cocker spaniel dog blog, puppy tips, health, grooming, nutrition and healthy eating advice

Treats: the best, the worst, and the know how

I cannot imagine a pup parent who would not give their dog a treat. Unless it is absolutely forbidden due to medical reasons or spartan lifestyle (which, let’s be honest, is not really common among cocker spaniel families), all dogs get a little something special every day to express love, improve training, bribe them (again, I am simply keeping it real) or simply because they absolutely nailed the sad look.

To treat or not to treat? That is the question. And if you do choose to indulge your pooch, the list of questions turns into a puzzle…

What treats to give? Which ones to avoid? How many? How often? When? What if? And suddenly a simple moment of pleasure becomes a nightmare… So today we are going to talk about making this experience a joy for both you and your spaniel, just to make life easier…

The good news is that treats can be definitely on a menu for most dogs, and you should not feel guilty about including them in your spaniel’s diet. I personally think my boys would become depressed if I suddenly stopped making dog biscuits, or refused a little bit of yoghurt that they love to the point of ecstasy.

On the other hand I am fully aware of what I can and cannot do when it comes to treats to keep things in balance and avoid potential problems. And here are a few important pointers…

… keep the quantities of all treats under 10% of your dog’s daily calorie amount. You can count the calories yourself, but it is easier and more precise to contact customer care of the pet food company you buy the main food from. They will give you calories per 100g of dog food, so you can then calculate your daily total and what the 10% number would be.

… remember that just because your dog can have 10% of calories in treats does not meat you must meet this amount or put it all into a single type of treat. For example, an average raw carrot or massive cucumber can generously fit into 10% but feeding so much carrot or cucumber in addition to main diet may cause fermentation in the gut, bloating and upset tummy. Feeding almost 100g of natural yoghurt (which is also about 10%) may either tip over the balance of fat or lactose, and cause either weight gain (in first instance) or tummy problems (with the latter). So it is best to create a range of treats to include a variety of food groups – a handful of regular kibble, a couple of biscuits, 1-2 tsp of natural yoghurt, a slice of cucumber or carrot and a slice of fruit or a few blueberries, for example.

… if you feed over 10% you are likely to face a few issues from excess weight, changes in appetite, skeletal problems due to faster development or bloating or diarrhoea because of the higher volume of food, specific ingredients or excess of certain nutrients.

… be very cautious when giving treats to a growing puppy. This is such a crucial stage that reducing main food can lead to imbalance of vital vitamins and minerals, and imbalance of proteins, fats and carbs can affect his weight, bones, cause runny tummy or make your pup gassy, or may even alter his behaviour. It is always best to use main food as food and training or stuffing treats with a couple of extra special high value rewards (think puppy biscuits or carrot slice etc) thrown in when/if needed.

… if you choose to give raw or dehydrated treats, you potentially put your dog at risk of serious, very serious health problems.

know your ingredients by checking the label on every treat you get for your cocker, and checking every company to ensure they are PFMA-registered.

… store the treats correctly. Biscuits would normally last for a week or so in a beautiful pet treat jar, and any chopped raw veg, eggs, chicken pieces or occasional desserts should be refrigerated and eaten within 2-3 days.


Image credit: photo taken by me

Beyond the doughnut, ultimate cookbook for healthy gluten-free treats and meals for happy dogs by Natalia Ashton is featured in Town & Country

Beyond the doughnut is featured in Town & Country

I am so happy today. Just received the news that Beyond the doughnut is featured in Town & Country! A moment of absolute joy that I will treasure forever. It’s good to see my “Doughnut” going places and getting the love it deserves.

Food photos are by me, and the portrait is by wonderful Elizabeth Clarke / I am family photography  

beyond the doughnut cookbook of gluten free healthy home made dog treats and meals by qualified nutritionist / Perfect cocker spaniel blog / dog blog, nutrition advice, nutrition diet tips for dogs, healthy eating for dogs, English cocker spaniel breed advice, treats, grooming and diet

Beyond the Doughnut

Well, this was unexpected… Almost too good to believe, to be honest. A feast in time of pandemic. A project to create something positive using flour in a manner of magic dust. The long-term and well-nurtured “what if” became an instant “why not” and my happy project named “Beyond the Doughnut“, the cookbook of dog treats.

Writing it felt very different to Perfect cocker spaniel. The puppy guide was conceived and written in memory of Oscar, a tribute to him. Back then this loss felt like a deep wound, still open and painful. By the time I finished the book, the wound healed somewhat… It has been sore for a long time… The book helped to face it. Right now it’s more like a scar, very visible scar that will remain with me for the rest of my life.

Needless to say, everything about Perfect cocker spaniel was deeply emotional. Every positive review and comment brightened up my day, any dose of negativity felt as if somebody insulted the memory of my boy (often without even reading the book or knew the subject well enough, but because they felt like it…)

Beyond the Doughnut had to be different. It needed to be sweet, beautiful and full of goodness.

I rolled up my sleeves and got cooking, pups in tow.

The initial plan was to create the recipes, write them up and then hire a professional photographer to do the imagery.

Half-way through the book I realised that styling and shooting 30 completely different recipes in a day would either kill or bankrupt me. Plus, the virus was having a ball and I refused to be invited.

Two sleepless nights later I decided to DIY everything. From cover to cover and in between.

gluten free recipe for home made easy simple gluten free dog treats by Perfect cocker spaniel from Beyond the Doughnut cookbook of dog treats and meals (C) copyrighted image

I spent hours on eBay looking for vintage props, styled and photographed the results, designed the cover, edited every page, letter and image and made it into a book.

I even created two editions…

Beyond the Doughnut, the big book of dog treats is almost as big as Perfect cocker spaniel. It comes with 30 recipe ideas for meals and treats plus scientifically-backed evidence-based information about nutrition and every ingredients I used throughout the tome.

Beyond the Doughnut: Best Bites is an adorable  book of 10 recipes taken from the main title, and comes without nutrition articles. It’s like a tester for those unsure about the big edition, or a collection of the most simple, gorgeous and very do-able treats that need very little effort. Also these 10 treats are what my pups love the most, so I know it could be used all year and please every pooch under the sun.

And it is most definitely a happy book… For the happy dogs and families who love to hug and dance in the kitchen.

Give it a go. I hope it will add a little sunshine to your day.

 

Photo credit: Beyond the Doughnut book cover designed by me, photo of the Bunny biscuits is style and photographed by me, taken from the Beyond the Doughnut: Best Bites little cookbook of dog treats