Monday, November 12, 2018

Treating Toby: Tips for Feeding Healthy Treats to Reward Your Chihuahua Without Causing Weight Gain!

Ah treats...they're wonderful things!  They can be used by us humans to make our doggies do just about anything.  The manufacturers make some of them smell good enough that we consider tasting them ourselves sometimes.  Oh and many of them come in resealable packages or tubs with lids so they don't become stale.  Indeed, dog treats are a most helpful and convenient invention.  BUT.......they must be used in moderation for most dogs.  Many treats are very high in calories and can very often put unnecessary weight on your dog.  We see too many overweight Chihuahuas (and other small breeds) whose owners are having no luck getting the weight off and they ask us why?  Our first question is...what do you feed your dog?  Very often, the owner will tell us that when it comes to treats, they are small and the owner considers them to be insignificant, so they will give them 10, 12 or more a day.  That's WAY too many treats for any dog, especially a small breed. 

Small breed dogs are more prone to become overweight than larger breeds are anyway, and adding those extra calories with unnecessary treats does not help that.  Your dog should not receive more than 4 to 5 treats a day, and treating should be reserved for training, or perhaps just to give your dog something special during the course of his day.  If your dog does not have a tendency to become overweight, you're probably alright to continue with whatever treats you prefer to give him, although there are healthier alternatives.  But if your dog has a weight problem, we have some recommendations for treats which are tasty and much healthier for your beloved pet. 

The first one is our favorite, and you can buy it at our favorite place...that's right, Wal-Mart...is PupCorn.  They are little doggie shaped, popcorn looking treats.  They are very low in calories, which makes them less likely to put weight on your dog, and dogs LOVE the taste.  Our dogs adore them! 

However, if your dog enjoys the soft, meaty treats, we have several recommendations for that as well.  Sniffers treats, which you can buy at PetSmart and other pet supply places and online, are very small, training size treats, and dogs really enjoy them.  In fact, many manufacturers make tiny meaty treats now.  Bil-Jac, Blue, Science Diet and many others are beginning to understand the weight issues that our dogs face and the necessity for pet owners to treat their dogs without sacrificing their health. Bil-Jac makes a tiny liver treat and a variety of other small meaty treats that you can purchase at most pet supply places, and our dogs love them.  For a more holistic type of treat, Blue also makes a line of tiny meaty training treats that dogs respond to very well.  The Train Me treat line (from pet supply places) which are training size, meaty treats are excellent too.  Basically, for the meaty treats, the smaller the better, as these are often the ones that do the most damage to a dog's waistline! 

Biscuit treats can also put weight on your dog.  It is rarely necessary to give a dog, especially a small breed, a large biscuit treat.  TreatCo (which can be purchased at www.jefferspets.com) has a line of small biscuit treats.  These treats are so small that actually the small size that they sell is a training size, bone shaped biscuit.  The medium size biscuits will also make a good size treat, even for overweight dogs.  Old Mother Hubbard also has a line of very small biscuit treats that are all natural.  Charlie Bear is another good biscuit type small training treat. 

Another wonderful treat for dogs is yogurt treats.  These tend to be somewhat lower in calories, but pack an enticing flavor that most dogs cannot resist.  Pooch Passions and Vitrakraft both have a line of these that are a decent size treat, but for the overweight dog, only one of these per day!  Other manufacturers are beginning to make smaller versions, but we have yet to try any of those.  All of the above mentioned treats can be found at either www.carealotpets.com or www.jefferspets.com.

Then there is a variety of "health foods" for dogs, including treats.  The dog food company, Nutro, makes a line of foods and treats called Ultra which are supposed to be a healthy alternative to regular treats.  We can't speak for them though as we have not tried them.  Also, there is a line called Wellness, and one called One Earth Natural Dog Biscuits, which you can find at www.carealotpets.com  All of these are supposed to be all natural and wholistic to promote your dog's health. 

Finally, perhaps the best treat that you can give your dog is whole, fresh fruits and veggies.  Many dogs LOVE apples, carrots, cucumbers, bananas and other types of fresh fruits and veggies.  Even a tiny bit of raw chicken or turkey makes an excellent treat now and then.  Just remember, make sure that fruits and veggies are fresh (never canned or frozen, unless frozen with no sugar added), and thoroughly washed to remove pesticides.  Also, make sure that when feeding raw meat, you clean up after your dog with bleach to prevent salmonella poisoning in the humans in your home. 


Whatever the treat you choose for your dog, we recommend that you do not discount the effect that the treats can have on your dog's weight.  You'd be surprised how quickly overweight dogs can drop those pounds when their treats are cut back and/or changed.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Chihuahuas and Cold Weather. Remember, They are NOT Winter Dogs!

In general, most dogs don't mix too well with cold weather.  There are, of course, a few exceptions....some dogs who enjoy cold climates, but on average, dogs don't like the cold, especially Chihuahuas.  Chihuahuas are very much warm weather dogs, and very much dislike the cold.

At this time of year, it's important to remember your dogs when you're trying to keep warm.  A no brainer....if temperatures are approaching freezing, your dog should not be left outside.  At the very least, he should have access to shelter out of the elements, preferably with a blanket or something to curl up with, where he can more efficiently use his own body heat to keep warm.  Ideally, he should be indoors in a heated environment.  If your dog is in a structure which does not have central heat, be careful using space heaters.  Please be sure that you keep them on a non-combustible surface, such as cement, and that you keep them away from any fabric, paper, etc., to prevent fires.  Also, be careful that your dog cannot come into contact with the heaters, as they can be very badly burned should they brush against them. 

Cold weather can have many effects on your dog's health.  As with humans, exposure to cold temperatures, especially for prolonged periods of time, degrades the immune system and opens your dog up to illness.  Cold weather also stiffens joints, leaving your dog more likely to develop arthritis.  It slows the digestive process and reduces your dog's energy level, which leads to weight gain.  Tiny paws can freeze very quickly, resulting in frostbite that may not end well for your or your dog.  Taking your dog out side for a short time to get some exercise is fine....necessary in fact.  But please don't leave him out.  Let him exercise and then bring him back inside to keep warm. 

Note: Chihuahuas and other small breeds should NEVER be left outside for longer than a few minutes during the winter months.  They are much more susceptible to the cold than larger dogs are, and excessive shivering, coupled with exposure to the elements, can make tiny dogs sick very quickly.  These small dogs need a heated environment.  Simply keeping them out of the elements is not enough for them.  Please be sure that you house your small dogs inside your home during the winter!