Functional Pet Treats
WHAT THEY ARE: Some pet treats are made with ingredients specifically meant to address health concerns—these are called “functional” treats. They are important because their function is to give pets some supplemental nutrition rather than the empty calories found in many other treats. Most functional treats are formulated for dogs, but some companies offer varieties for cats or even ferrets. You can find functional treats in forms such as biscuits, bones, freeze-dried, jerky, and chews.
WHAT THEY DO: When given to your pet on a regular basis, these treats are formulated to provide some additional health benefit. From weight management to bad breath, you can choose the right functional treat to target your pet’s specific needs. Also, many treats work double- or even triple-duty: Check the label to see how many health issues your treat targets.
Reward your dog with better nutrition. When searching for the best treat for your pooch, consider both present health problems and those you wish to prevent.
WEIGHT MANAGEMENT: Treats low in fat and calories but high in fiber are your best bet for weight management. Added ingredients such as L-carnitine—which promotes a healthy metabolism and has been shown to increase fat loss in dogs—can be helpful for reducing weight.
JOINT CARE: Look for products enhanced with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, as well as special ingredients for joint care (e.g., glucosamine and chondroitin). Vitamin E may also help reduce inflammation and soothe joint pain.
DENTAL CARE/BAD BREATH: Treats fortified with calcium help promote strong teeth—and most contain ingredients meant to break down plaque and tartar, reduce the amount of bacteria in your dog’s mouth, and reduce smelly odors. Some treats may contain chlorophyll, mint, or parsley to help neutralize bad odors, and although those ingredients are no substitute for regular teeth cleanings, they may increase the time between professional cleanings if given regularly.
DIGESTIVE HEALTH: Extra fiber, probiotics, or prebiotics may help balance a stressed digestive tract. Ingredients you might see in these treats include yogurt, chicory root, Brewer’s yeast, and beet pulp.
SKIN/HAIR HEALTH: Additional omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can help pets with dry, flaky skin and rough, brittle hair. These fatty acids can come from flaxseed, fish oil, or other natural sources—they work in combination with vitamins such as A, E, and D to help soothe skin and shine hair. If you’ve got a kitty, look for treats formulated with fiber and probiotics to help improve digestion and the passage of fur balls.
WHOLE-BODY HEALTH: Treats enhanced with vitamins and minerals, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and/or superfruit and veggie blends provide an excellent source of antioxidants to promote good overall health and wellness for your pet. Some treats may be fortified with DHA, which promotes brain development. Other types of functional treats include ingredients for heart health (flaxseed, taurine, and tumeric), urinary health (cranberries and taurine), and behavioral issues (chamomile and lavender).
Source: NPIC, Pet360
Published in Natural Solutions, September 2014