Food treats over the Festive Season

For some reason we all love a treat during the Festive Season; there seems to be something in the air that allows us to cheat a little more. And because we love our pets so much, we want to spoil them with an extra treat as well. There is nothing wrong with treating your dog, as long as it is in moderation and keeps his health in mind.

There are various kinds of treats that we can give our dogs, and it doesn’t have to be edible treats. We feel guilty when we don’t share our indulgences with our dogs, but a daily walk, extra love and a special toy are all treats that your dog will love.

Occasional treats

While some human foods are poisonous to dogs, others should only be given in small amounts, especially food with a high sodium content, such as biltong. Other foods that should be given in small quantities at your discretion include:

  • Cheese
  • Dry wors
  • Processed sausage like viennas or franks
  • Only soft, uncooked bones. Because there is so much controversy over the subject, it is best to refrain from bones completely unless you know for sure how to give them.

Good treats

There is a variety of healthy treats that you can offer your dog. Dominique Kuhlmann, General Manager of the Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa, shares a few guidelines on healthy treats. She says that we should first consider that every morsel that passes our pets’ lips adds to their daily nutritional intake.

“To calculate your pet’s daily food intake, you must consider it all and ensure that the total meets your pet’s individual energy requirements, which differ based on the foods fed, the age of the pet, the breed, life stage and lifestyle.”

She adds that pets’ food intake shouldn’t only consist of treats, but should be part of a healthy diet.

“Just as in people, an increase in food intake will result in an overweight pet and this includes treats, chews and titbits,” says Dr Patricia Mills, a small animal veterinarian in private practice.

“A medium-size dog having an extra chew as a treat during the course of a day is equivalent to a person eating a chocolate bar. Or the same dog eating a small portion of cheese as a titbit is the same as a person eating a whole hamburger as an extra snack during their day.”

Ideal treats

Ideally, treats can be included as part of training, but not when your dog begs with puppy eyes or jumps up and down. Ask him to sit, and then offer him a treat. Treats low in kilojoules, sodium, phosphorus and fats are preferable, and examples include:

  • Semi-moist and bite-size treats
  • Bite-size bits of strawberries
  • Watermelon pieces without the pips and rindless
  • Small chunks of carrots and apples
  • Low-fat biscuits and ovals

Ilze Fourie, owner of Rogue’s Pawsome Bakery, says that she is very wary about what she feeds her dogs. “Due to Rogue having recurring pancreatitis and Drago’s skin flaring up from certain foods, I have certain rules when it comes to what they eat.”

To treat her dogs, she offers them:

  • Banana: frozen pieces in summer for a nice cold snack
  • Carrots: cooked or raw
  • Spinach
  • Cucumber
  • Blueberries and strawberries
  • Cranberries
  • Pumpkin: small, frozen bits for summer time
  • Popcorn: no salt and microwave popped (remove any unpopped kernels)

Treat your dog this Festive Season with healthy options that won’t upset his tummy or the scale. If your dog is adventurous, he might like to explore new treats. Play around with a few ideas and see if he likes frozen fruit bits.

Gluten-free butternut treats

In true festive spirit, Ilze also shares a favourite treat recipe from her bakery.


  • 6 cups gluten-free multipurpose flour
  • 1 cup steamed, mashed butternut
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Water
  • Tapioca flour for rolling the dough


  1. Mix the flour, butternut and egg together.
  2. Add the cinnamon.
  3. Add water to the mix slowly (the amount of water will vary due to the butternut and flour).
  4. The dough should be firm and not sticky.
  5. Sprinkle tapioca flour on the surface before rolling out the dough.
  6. Roll the dough to ±2cm.
  7. Use a cookie cutter to cut the dough shapes.
  8. Place on a baking tin and bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.
  9. Reduce the heat of the oven to 90°C and leave the oven door slightly ajar for another 20 minutes.


  • Remember that gluten-free flour is very fine and thus the texture of the treats will be different than that of normal flour treats.
  • If the dough is too sticky, gradually add more gluten-free or tapioca flour (you won’t be able to roll the dough if it is too sticky).


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