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Can Puppies Have Treats?

Dr. Karie Johnson, DVM
By Dr. Karie Johnson, DVM
Updated: 5/9/20242-4 minutes
brown lab puppy on a leash

Your puppy looks up at you with the face of a furry angel… and your heart melts. You’d give anything to make them happy, but you also want to be a responsible pet parent.

So one thing you probably want to know is whether puppies should have treats.

You and your puppy will both be happy to know that yes, puppies CAN have treats. (Your puppy would undoubtedly be jumping for joy if they could read this.) The key is to choose quality treats that are made for puppies, and to use them appropriately.

Are Dog Treats Good for Puppies?

There are many quality treats available for dogs. In fact, companies like Purina® offer a variety of dog treat choices for dogs of all sizes, in forms such as: 

Many of these types of treats can be good choices for your puppy, especially if you can offer them in the right serving size. If you have a specific type of adult treat in mind, or if you already have an adult dog in your family and are adding a puppy to the pack, ask your veterinarian before giving your puppy a treat formulated for adult dogs.

Why Some Adult Dog Treats May Not Be Safe for Puppies

Some adult dog treats can be broken into puppy-size pieces, to make them safe for puppies to chew and swallow without choking. However, when trying to find the right option for your puppy you may find that some treats made for adult dogs are simply too large for a puppy’s tiny mouth, or too hard for their little teeth to chew properly.

What Are Some Good Treats for Puppies?

To make sure your puppy gets a treat that they can eat and swallow safely, look for one made specifically for puppies, such as Purina® Puppy Chow® Training Treats. Bite-sized and tender for a puppy’s petite mouth and teeth, with nutrition including protein and DHA to support growth, these treats are a perfect reward for your puppy. 

How to Give Treats to Your Puppy

Treats can of course create moments of joy for your puppy. They can also serve some very practical purposes, especially when it comes to training your puppy or redirecting their need to chew (on things you don’t want them to) while teething.

Puppy Training With Treats

When it comes to training your puppy, treats are a powerful motivator. If you’re teaching your puppy basic commands or proper behavior, initially treats can be as effective a reinforcement as earning praise from you.

When considering treats for training puppies, the experts at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University recommend bite-sized morsels that your puppy can eat quickly and easily, so they don’t get distracted by consuming the treat and lose track of the training lesson. A good guide is to make sure the treat is no bigger than your smallest fingernail.

Be consistent about using treats as a reward for a job well done (and not as a consolation prize). Once your puppy has learned the command or desired behavior, you can gradually phase out the treats in favor of praise alone. For more puppy training tips, visit the myPurina app.

Puppy Teething Treats

As you may be experiencing (or will soon), puppies, much like human babies, go through a teething period. Chewing is a natural behavior for them, and one they need to do during teething. If you don’t provide them with appropriate things to chew on during this time, they may seek out things they shouldn’t chew on.

For their safety (and the safety of your furniture, shoes and other things), try treating your puppy to a Kong-style toy stuffed with something nutritious such as peanut butter or some canned puppy food. An additional way to add chewing enjoyment time is to freeze the stuffed toy, so your puppy has to gnaw and lick longer to extract the yummy treat inside.

How Many Treats Are Too Many?

While it might be hard to resist giving your puppy a treat every time they look at you with those soulful eyes, there is a guideline on how many treats a day for a puppy. For your puppy’s future health, you’ll want to make sure you stick to it. 

Experts advise that no more than 10% of a puppy’s daily calories should come from treats. If treats become more than 10% of daily calories, your puppy’s diet might become less balanced and less supportive of healthy development.

Treating Your Puppy With Care

Copy: Treats can make moments with your puppy even more special. They can help make training more successful and can even help keep your puppy safely occupied. By being thoughtful and responsible about how you use them, from the start, you can make treats one of the joys you and your puppy share, throughout their lives.   

For more expert tips on feeding your puppy, explore our other puppy feeding articles. 

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