How do I know if my dog treats are low fat? A Step-by-Step Guide

Which Low-Fat Food Should You Choose?

While shopping for low-fat food for your dog, take a look at the ingredients. Foods that have simple, easy-to-pronounce ingredients are better for your pup. You also want to make sure that the food is free of anything that your dog is allergic to.

When selecting low-fat food for your dog, it’s important to first consult your veterinarian. They might already have a brand in mind. They also might actually prescribe your pup a diet specific to their health needs. These foods you can’t purchase without a vet’s permission. Here are some of our favorite low-fat dog foods:

Again, only switch to a low-fat dog food with your veterinarian’s permission. Low-fat foods are formulated to treat specific conditions, such as obesity and pancreatitis, and are not for all dogs.

Feeding InstructionsThe feeding instructions for dog treats are typically limited to statements like “feed as a treat” or “for supplemental or intermittent feeding only”. These statements will not provide you with any information about the quality of the dog treat itself.

The product label will also tell you if a company actually makes the dog treats themselves, or if the treats are made by a third party for them. If the information on the label reads “manufactured for”, the treats are not manufactured by the company selling the product. This is not per se a sign of poor quality, but in case the company is otherwise talking about that they make the treats themselves, caution might be advised.

In case a treat is made in the USA, you would typically find “made in the USA” printed on the label. This, however, does not necessarily mean that the ingredients used are also coming from the United States. Should a treat be made from US sourced ingredients and manufactured in the United States, you would typically find “sourced and made in the USA” printed on the label. In case you can’t find the information on the label, reach out to the manufacturer and ask for further information.

It’s important to avoid dog treats made in China or low-cost countries with questionable quality standards. Between August 2007, and December 2015, more than 6,200 dogs, 26 cats and three people became severely ill in what is now known as the “melamine scandal”. More than 1,140 of those dogs died. Even though the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never been able to fully identify the exact root-cause of the illnesses, it was highly associated with the consumption of pet jerky treats imported from China.²

General tips for giving treats:

Make sure that all treats are cut into sizes that are easy for your pet to chew and swallow. Chunks of hard fruits and vegetables can pose a choking risk, especially carrots. Tossing the treat increases the risk for choking.

If you notice any digestive upset as a result of adding new foods, be sure to discontinue giving foods that are causing trouble.

What seems like a little bite of our dinner or snack is not just a “little bite” of food to your pet!

  • 1 oz. of cheddar cheese for a cat = 3.5 hamburgers for a person
  • 1 oz. of cheddar cheese for a 20 lb. dog = 1.5 hamburgers for a person
  • 1 cup of milk for a cat = 4.5 hamburgers for a person
  • Love liver treats but hate the expense? Make liver treats last longer. Make a trail mix for your dog by mixing dry treats such as unsalted popcorn, broken no-salt rice cakes, and low salt pretzels, and store in a tight container. The liver treats will add extra flavor to the other treats. For cats, make a trail mix of dry treats and add catnip to the container. Homemade trail mixes are great gifts too!

    Make part of your pets meals into treats. Measure out the daily amount of food. Put a portion of the food in the same area as the treats and use throughout the day as a treat or reward. Many cats and dogs are happy with just getting something from the “special” treat area. By using part of your pet’s regular meal in this way, your pet is not getting additional calories but still getting the reward, and it makes us feel better that we are able to give them a treat.

    Alternative Treats: Instead of giving a food reward, play a game, go for a walk or even just give some extra attention as a great way to bond and reward your cat or dog.

    Teach a trick for a treat or introduce puzzle toys that requires the cat or dog to work for the treat. This is a great way to increase your pets exercise level, stimulate the mind, and give rewards at the same time. In particular, cats in the wild are accustomed to stalking and hunting their food and eating small amounts at a time. Puzzle toys help simulate this hunting activity, reducing stress in indoor cats.

    Small changes to a diet or lifestyle can go a long way towards improved health for your pet. Thinking twice about what extra calories we give to our pets in treat form can have lasting effects. Visit our website ( to compare the calories in cat and dog treats. Use high calorie treats in moderation on special occasions. In this season of giving, give your pet the gift of healthy living and healthy treats!

    Staff Education Note: As part of AHNAs continuing support of nutritional education, three of the members of our Patient Care Team, Lorraine, Jodi and Dorothy, attended an all-day Nutrition Conference (sponsored by Hills) held at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Asheville. Topics ranging from basic nutrition, understanding food labels, and important roles nutrition plays in life stages of the pet were covered. Watch for many exciting upcoming nutritional events in 2013. Animal Hospital of North Asheville supports continuing education for all levels of staff.

    Healthy Dog Treats: top 5 low fat treats for dogs