OK, so your dog loves treats. Your cat practically begs for them. But do you know how many calories are in that treat? 


In case you ever wondered about it, you might be surprised to learn that many commercial pet treats contain as many calories as a whole cup of dog food or a half a can of cat food.


And when you’re concentrating on trying to get her weight down, those kinds of calorie counts are definitely killing her diet. 


As a veterinarian I see a lot of denial when it comes to fat pets. One of the most common lines I’m fed by way of explaining why pets are fat is this one: “But I only feed her this much.” (Hold your fingers an inch apart for emphasis.) And there’s the line in which the owner admits to two treats a day (or is it five?). 


In my estimation, even a couple of treats a day is too much if they’re anything like these:

  • Milk Bones: 20 for the tiny ones to 225 calories for the biggest ones
  • BusyBones (by Purina): 309 for the small ones to 618 for the big ones
  • DentaBones (by Pedigree): 105 for the small, 188 for the medium and 300 for the large ones
  • Pig ears are about 130 calories for the small ones
  • Rawhides? 100 to about 600 calories for the ones I sourced


For a reference point, consider that the average cup of dog food contains about 300 calories. Only then can you see how quickly just a couple of treats can add up.


So how do you handle a situation where your overweight pet wants treats (because you’ve essentially trained him to love them) but you don’t want to continue to contribute to the health threat represented by her rotund abdomen? 


Consider the healthful alternatives most anyone can train their pets to adore:

  • Frozen (or fresh) Green Beans (23 calories per half cup)
  • Frozen (or fresh) Broccoli (20 calories per half cup)
  • Baby Carrots (4 calories each)
  • Apple Slices (32 calories per one half apple)
  • Cantaloupe Slices (30 calories per one half cup)
  • Canned Pumpkin (40 calories per half cup)
  • Air Popped Popcorn (15 calories per half cup)


Not only are these kinds of treats generally enjoyed by pets and provide an excellent outlet for our human need to ply them with treats, they also fail to contain the undeniably nasty ingredients I’m sure you’d rather I not describe. But that’s another post altogether, isn’t it? 



Dr. Patty Khuly



Image: photka / Shutterstock



Last reviewed on September 16, 2015