If dental treats will be a part of a pet’s diet, how should they be fed?

Answer:

  • It is important to assess the impact of treats on the dietary needs of each individual dog or cat.
  • At least 90% of the pet’s maintenance energy requirement (MER) should  come from the pet’s complete and balanced pet food and no more than 10% should come from treats. If treats exceed 10% of the pet’s daily food intake, this may lead to:1
    •  A nutrient imbalance in the pet’s overall food intake
    • Consumption of too many calories, leading to obesity and associated disease conditions
  • Three factors should be considered when planning a pet’s diet that will include daily treats:2
    1. The nutrient profile of the treat
    2. The number of treats fed daily
    3. The nutrient composition of the pet’s regular food2
  • From an oral health standpoint, dental treats and non-food items should be evaluated with an evidence-based medicine approach to determine their benefits and efficacy.3 These treats and non-food items should be included in the assessment of the pet’s daily nutrient food intake.1 When using dental treats as directed, consider the caloric density of the amount of treats necessary to use them as directed for oral health. Treats should not exceed more than 10% of a pet’s daily caloric intake.
  • The safety of the dental products should also be evaluated.
  • For treats which may help in oral health, the VOHC provides a current list at vohc.org/accepted_products.htm.4
The Science Behind our Recommendations
1. Cave N. Nutritional Management of Gastrointestinal Disease. In: Fascetti AJ, Delaney SJ eds. Applied Veterinary Clinical Nutrition 1st ed. Ames, IA: Wiley-Blackwell; 2012: 80. 2. Logan EI, Wiggs RB, Scherl D, Cleland P. Periodontal Disease. In: Hand MS, Thatcher CD, Remillard RL, Roudebush P, Novotny BJ, eds. Small Animal Clinical Nutrition 5th ed. Topeka, KS: Mark Morris Institute; 2010: 992. 3. Roudebush P, Logan E, Hale FA. Evidence-based veterinary dentistry: a systematic review of homecare for prevention of periodontal disease in dogs and cats. J Vet Dent. 2005 Mar;22(1):6-15. 4. Products currently awarded the VOHC seal. Veterinary Oral Health Council Web site. http://www.vohc.org/accepted_products.htm. Accessed July 24, 2013.