While furry lamb ears and dried turkey necks might turn your stomach a little, it’s easy to see why dogs love them. Delicious and nutritious, chewing natural treats is a great way for pooches to tap into their instincts – and leading raw food provider, Cotswold RAW, is an advocate for including them in dogs’ diets.
With natural treats helping with everything from anxiety to looking after pups’ pearly whites, SoGlos caught up with the experts at Cotswold RAW to pick up some top treat-feeding tips for dog owners.
About the expert – Cotswold RAW
Cotswold RAW is an independent, family-run company that produces nutritious raw food for dogs all over Gloucestershire and beyond. Its BARF-approved recipes are designed to replicate a dog’s natural diet, with a whole range of dried treats and raw meaty bones to get their teeth stuck into.
Why should owners feed their dogs natural chews alongside their normal diet?
People often think of chews as treats – and indeed, they are. They can be used for reward-based training very effectively and make a great snack. But they’re so much more than that.
One of the RSPCA’s ‘five freedoms’ for animal keepers is to provide their pets with the ‘freedom to display normal behaviour’ – which, in terms of feeding your dog, relates to meeting their instinctive need to rip, tear and chew. Natural chews are perfect for this!
Natural treats are also great for dogs’ overall health. They’re natural, minimally-processed and while the hairy ones might be a little off-putting for humans, they work wonders for your dog’s guts!
Are there any other health benefits of feeding your dog natural treats?
Keeping dogs’ teeth and gums healthy, for one. Over time, plaque caused by bacteria from food and saliva builds up on dogs’ teeth, which then hardens to become tartar. Similar to humans, if this is not treated, it can cause dental problems such as gum disease – which can then lead to things like tooth loss and even loss of jaw bone.
To keep their teeth and gums healthy in the wild, dogs would gnaw on the bones of their prey; a practice which chewing on natural chews and raw bones stimulates. So, while owners still have to get their dogs’ dental health checked, chews and dried treats can be really helpful for pups that are prone to gum disease.
Our complete meals at Cotswold RAW can also help to support your dog’s dental health, as raw food also contains naturally occurring enzymes, which help to protect teeth and gums.
You mentioned raw bones. How can owners keep their dogs safe when feeding them bones?
Bones are safe if they’re raw. Cooked bones are low in moisture and can easily split or cause choking; but raw bones are rich in natural moisture, softer, more flexible and easily digested in the low pH of a dog’s stomach.
Always supervise your dog when they’re eating a bone – and please choose a product that’s appropriate to their age, size and breed. Some bones may last longer than others and some may be too hard for young dogs or older dogs with weaker teeth.
A good way to gauge it is to choose a bone that’s about as big as your dog’s head – too big to swallow but small enough to handle. Then, simply give it to them at regular intervals for them to gnaw at and watch them enjoy it!
How can owners make sure that they’re not overfeeding their dog? Is there are limit to the number of treats dogs can have in a day?
You do need to be mindful of the number of treats you’re giving. They all add to your dog’s daily calorie count. However, maintaining your dog’s body condition is the key goal so don’t overthink it.
If you feed them a particularly large treat during the day, scale back on the portion size for their evening meal. Different proteins will have different calorie levels too. Lamb is a little fattier, so perhaps use more poultry or fish as a treat if they’re having that for dinner, for instance. Our sprats make a great topper or reward treat.
How can feeding treats help dogs with anxiety?
Chewing is a great exercise for dogs, both mentally and physically. It releases calming endorphins; this is why dogs who are distressed by being left alone will often tear at soft furnishings, as it makes them feel better.
Many dogs have anxious moments and adding natural chews into their diet is a relatively simple change that can make an enormous difference in helping them feel calm and safe.
Treats are commonly used for reward-based training – which products from your natural treat range would you recommend for this?
Our pure meat strips are the best for reward-based training or if you are out on walks. They break up nicely, they’re easy to handle and convenient to carry.
Finally, what would you say to someone who felt squeamish about giving their dog a furry rabbit’s ear or chicken heart?
Our natural treats at Cotswold RAW are all species-appropriate and the dogs love them! Feeding natural chews does help a ‘nose-to-tail’ approach too, making sure that nothing goes to waste – no parts of an animal should be wasted in this day and age.