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Veggies and Fruits as Treats for Your Dog


(Knoxville, TN.  August 15, 2014) Gardeners are beginning to reap the bounty of their hard work, and they can share much of those fruits and vegetables with their entire familyincluding the family pet.

   Dr. Angela Witzel, board-certified veterinary nutritionist at the University of Tennessee college of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Angela Witzel, board-certified veterinary nutritionist at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, and was a recent guest on WBIR and talked about the options available to pet owners when it comes to treats. Click here to watch the video and learn about Mabel. Click here  to learn more about the UT Veterinary Medical Center's Nutrition Service.

Dr. Witzel answers a few more questions about treats.

We think about calories in people food but not necessarily in dog food.  How many calories a day should a dog eat? You should always talk to your veterinarian since dogs with different lifestyles have different needs, and use a dog food that says it is nutritionally complete for the life stage your dog is in (puppy, adult, or senior).  Mabel, for instance, needs about 400 calories a day to maintain her weight. One hotdog would totally blow it for her.

How many calories should be from treats? We typically don't want dogs to get more than 10% of their daily calories from treats. A 10 pound dog that eats 250 calories per day should not get more than 25 calories a day from treats.

Why is that? If they get too many treats, even healthy treats, it throws their diet out of balance. If half of your dogs calories come from green beans, then he may not be getting enough protein in his diet.  And remember a serving size for a human is not the same as a serving size for a dog.

Each of the treats listed below is 50 calories, the average daily amount that would be appropriate 20-30 pound dog.  One thing to keep in mind is you can give them to your dog throughout the day. For instance, give one or two green beans at a time several times a day.

   A sample of what 50 calories looks like in each of these foods

50 calorie portions

  • 3.5 oz. Apple
  • 5 oz. Baby carrots
  • 8 oz. Green beans
  • 5.5 oz. Watermelon
  • 0.45 oz. Cheddar cheese
  • ¼  Hotdog
  • 2.5 bones small Milkbone
  • 2 pieces Canine Carryouts beef flavor


Are there any fruits and vegetables that you should NOT feed your animals? It is not safe to feed your animal grapes, raisins, onions or garlic.

How big is the problem of obesity in dogs and cats?  It is estimated between 50% and 60% of dogs and cats are overweight or obese and joint disease and shortened life span are just two problems associated with it. Overweight dogs don't feel as good and aren't as active. They face a lot of the same complications as overweight people.

How can you tell if your dog is overweight? There are two quick ways. The hourglass test: look at your pet from above. If you don't see a nice hourglass shape tapering from the ribs to the waist, your pet is overweight.

The other way is to use your hand.

If your dog's ribs feel like the knuckles of an outstretched hand, your dog is not overweight

Run a finger along the knuckles of an outstretched hand: you can feel the bone, but it is not sticking out.  That's how your dog's ribs should feel as you rub your hands down his side.

If your dog's ribs feel like the knuckles on a clenched fist, he is too thin

Now make a fist and run a finger over the knuckles and note the prominent bones. If your dog's ribs feel like that he is too thin.

If your dog's ribs feel like the knuckles on the palm, he is overweight

Finally, turn your hand over and run a finger along the underside of the knuckles and notice you can't feel any bone. If your dog's ribs feel like that then he is overweight. Talk to your veterinarian about your dog's caloric needs.





Posted: 08-15-14 Viewed: 85502 times

Media Relations

Sandra Harbison
College of Veterinary Medicine
University of Tennessee
2407 River Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996

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