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South Florida Fido: Nix Holiday Indulgence

Dog treats are not a substitute for a well-rounded dog diet
Dog treats are not a substitute for a well-rounded dog diet
Flickr Creative Commons: majorvols

What did Santa bring your best friend? Stockings full of treats? Boxes of chewables? Edible Ornaments?

Distributed in moderation, most commercial dog treats won't hurt your dog, and many have real benefits. For example, Flossies, a popular treat made from twisted dry beef tendon, encourages friction-generating chewing which cleans a dog's teeth. Another popular treat, Greenies, are good for dental hygiene. Snacks made from dehydrated fruit and vegetables add vitamins and minerals to your dog's diet. My dog loves sweet potato-flavor bits and blueberry-infused crunchies.

Flossies, like many other natural, dog treats, are a good source of protein and fiber, and are low fat. Check the labels of presents left for your dog; those that do not contain artificial ingredients, preservatives, or additives are the best choice. Look for 100 percent American sourced treats, to avoid foreign processing and unregulated ingredients. Dried treats are preferable to smoked treats. Sort through what is left from the holidays: keep the treats that meet your criteria; ditch any that are questionable.

It's important to maintain good dietary balance, paying attention that treats do not become too large a percentage of daily food intake. Treats should not replace a nutritionally well-rounded dog food. If cool Miami days are keeping you indoors, try a baking project your dog will love, and whip up some natural dog treats.