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Natural Treats & Healthy Snack Alternatives for Dogs

Do you love how excited your furry friend gets when treats are offered to them? While it may make both of you happy, it can also lead to weight gain and serious issues like heart conditions. Here, our vets in Crystal Lake talk about healthy snack alternatives and share some of the best natural treats for dogs.

Choosing Healthy Treats & Snacks for Dogs

It's no secret that dogs love getting treats, but do you know about the impact that those little treats can have on their weight and overall health if not given in moderation?

What's the big deal with regular dog treats?

Standard treats can have a large number of calories, in some cases even rivaling the calories in a scoop of their kibble. This can quickly make weight management a struggle.

Along with being high in calories, these treats also often contain fillers and preservatives, depending on the brand. 

While these treats contain some level of nutrients, and the preservatives help to extend their shelf-life, you may want to limit them and consider some healthy alternatives.

What are the best treats for overweight dogs?

Here are some alternatives to regular treats if you are looking to watch your dog's weight, or just generally looking out for their health:


Once the core and seeds are removed, a couple of slices of apple are a great treat for your dog. They are full of nutrients like vitamin C and fiber. 

Green Peas

Most dogs love peas, and the vitamins and zinc in them are great for your pup. Fresh or frozen, they make a great treat to use while training or as a snack in their bowl.


Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene and other vitamins and make a good, healthy treat for dogs. Just be sure to cut them into small enough pieces for your dog, especially if they like to swallow snacks whole.

Green Beans

Green beans are a great fiber-filled snack. They contain vitamins A and K and can be eaten raw, cooked, steamed, or even canned, as long as there is no seasoning.


Watermelon makes a tasty, healthy, and hydrating treat for dogs, especially on a hot day. This juicy fruit not only has a high water content, but also an abundance of vitamins A and C. Just take the time to remove the rind and seeds before feeding it to them.

Cooked Sweet Potatoes

While sweet potatoes aren't the quickest to cook, they keep well in the fridge, making them a great treat throughout the week. For your dog's safety, you should always ensure that sweet potatoes are unseasoned and cooked. Never give your pup raw potatoes of any kind.


While bananas are a little higher in sugar, they also are full of nutrients like potassium and vitamin C, making them a great treat for your dog. Many dogs love the taste, and a small piece or two is sure to get them excited!


Cruciferous veggies like broccoli can have a great impact on your dog's health when cut into small pieces and given as a treat. They are full of fiber, vitamins C and K, iron, and potassium. Like many other vegetables, your dog can have them raw, steamed, or cooked as long as they have no seasoning. 

Cooked Squash

All different types of squashes, like butternut squash, pumpkin, or zucchini, make a delicious treat for your furry friend. These vegetables contain nutrients like vitamins B6 and C, magnesium, fiber, and potassium. Always remove the seeds and cut them into small pieces, and in the case of butternut squash, you should remove the rind as well.

Pumpkin also makes a great remedy for mild diarrhea in dogs. Diarrhea is an uncomfortable and potentially serious internal condition that can cause dehydration. Pumpkin can help remove the excess water in the digestive tract, relieving the symptoms.


Like bananas, strawberries can contain a larger amount of sugar, but these tiny treats are full of vitamin C! Your dog is bound to be wagging their tail when given the option of chomping on a few of these.


Blueberries are another great little fruit that is packed full of vitamins C and K, manganese and potassium. These make a great treat that your dog is likely to love but should be given in moderation as they contain sugars just like other fruits.

Things to Keep in Mind

Each dog's body will respond differently to new foods. When introducing new foods or treats into their diet, it's always a good idea to start with a little taste and work your way up to an appropriately sized treat from there. You should never put any type of seasoning on the foods your dog will be eating, and pay special attention to whether they need to be cooked or if any part of the food should be removed first.

Remember, all treats should be given in moderation, especially when weight is a concern. By only giving treats sparingly, you can avoid unnecessary weight gain and help keep your pup healthy.

Some foods are dangerous to dogs, like onions, avocados, and chocolate, so you should double-check before giving your precious pooch any human foods. If you think that your dog may have eaten a toxic food, please contact our emergency animal hospital in Crystal Lake for further instructions and care.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Did your dog eat potentially toxic food? Please contact our Crystal Lake emergency veterinarians to have your dog seen right away.

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Companion Animal Specialty and Emergency Hospital is accepting new patients! Our specialists and experienced emergency veterinarians are passionate about restoring good health to animal companions in Crystal Lake.

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