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Too Many or Too Few: How Many Treats Per Day for a Dog?

 A tabletop with dog biscuits and a basket full of dog treats

Giving your dog treats is like giving a child candy, a little is fine, but too much isn’t going to have good results. Basically, as a doggy parent, you use treats to reward your dog, for good behaviour, help to train them, and to improve the bond between you and your forever friend. Like people, all dogs are different, so there is no universal answer to how many treats to give your dog, so just follow some basic guidelines, and you and your dog will be fine.

Four rules you should follow when it comes to daily dog treats

Luckily, there are some simple rules to follow when it comes to your doggo’s caloric intake, treat ingredients, and more.

Rule 1

One question we often get asked is, “Do too many treats make my dog sick?” There are things that you should never give your dog–either as part of their regular diet or as a treat. Avoid giving your dog the following:

      • Chocolate
      • Garlic
      • Grapes
      • Onions
      • Raisins [1]

You also need to look at the ingredients of your treat for Xylitol (an artificial sweetener). It can cause problems with your dog’s blood pressure and damage their kidneys.

While some dogs might tolerate some of these, they won’t improve their health, so why take a chance.

Rule 2

A large percent of pets are overweight. They get too little exercise and take in too many calories. Excess weight is not good for your dog, so you need to be careful about giving them too many calories each day.

Rule 3

Treats aren’t supposed to be your dog’s main food, so they aren’t made to provide your dog with the proper nutrients. Giving your dog too many treats might mean your dog is missing important parts of their diet. Their main food contains all the building blocks for their body, and treats are designed to be tasty tempting morsels.

Rule 4

Treats shouldn’t be more than 10% of your dog’s diet.[1] If you find that your dog is getting too many calories from treats, give them smaller treats or break larger treats into smaller bits. Don’t worry, dogs are not like people, your dog won’t even notice that their delicious treats are smaller.

Can I give my dog too many treats?

A dog getting rewarded with too many dog treats at once

Yup! You sure can, and many people do. Use treats sparingly so that you don’t feed your best friend too many calories. If you give them too many treats, the treats become ordinary and mundane–they won’t be something special anymore, and they will lose their effectiveness.

When Treats = Training

An occasional treat as a reward is fine, and they are great as you teach your furry friend various tricks and modify their behaviour. But don’t forget that you can use a clicker when you train your dog instead which will help keep their waistline thin and trim, or you can use smaller treats or cut larger treats into smaller pieces.

Just remember to keep it under 10% of their total diet–your vet can help you determine how many calories your dog needs, and how many calories they can have as treats each day.

Will too many treats make my dog sick?

Again, the answer is yes. Too many treats mean too many calories, and too many calories lead to many health problems as your dog gets older, such as:

      • Arthritis
      • Diabetes
      • Cardiovascular problems
      • Joint disease
      • Pancreatitis

And make sure that you don’t give your dog chocolate, garlic, grapes, onions and raisins.

How many treats per day for a big, medium and small dog?

How many treats per day for a small dog is normal? What about a medium-sized doggo? Keep the 10% rule in mind–so the smaller the dog, the less they eat, so the fewer treats they should receive. And don’t forget that active dogs require more calories than dogs that are sedentary. Generally, multiply their body weight in kilograms by 30, then add 70. That is roughly what their caloric intake should be. So the calories from treats should be 10% of that [2].

Things that you need to consider though, are:

      • Activity level
      • Age
      • Medical condition
      • Reproductive status
      • Weight status (overweight, normal, underweight)

If you have any questions, please consult your veterinarian. They can help you with your dog’s diet and assist you in determining the number of treats you should be able to give them without damaging your dog’s health.

How many treats per day for a puppy?

Puppies need more nutrients because they have a growing body, so they will need additional calories. Since they need more than an adult dog of similar weight, they can have more treats as well. Just stick to the 10% rule.

What are some healthy dog treats?

So what kind of treats should you give to your four-legged friend? Read the ingredients and do your best to avoid treats that have preservatives and artificial flavours. There is no reason that you should risk your dog’s health by feeding them chemicals that don’t enhance their health. Also, you might want to avoid treats that contain wheat and soy because they are common allergens.

Try a variety and see which your dog likes best. You need to remember that tastes change, so what your doggo likes today might not be the same that they like next week.

Homemade dog treat ideas

Homemade treats might be easier to prepare than you think. There are a number of recipes online, many just have 2 or 3 ingredients. By making your own, you can control what your dog is eating, making sure that it is all healthy and they won’t contain anything that your dog is allergic to.

It is easy to cut pieces of cooked meat into smaller pieces that you can use to reward your forever friend. You might also want to try giving them a kibble or two for a treat, especially a kibble that they find irresistible. For some dogs, you can try bits of boiled veggies like peas, green beans or sweet potatoes or small pieces of raw apple or blueberries.

Some low-sugar breakfast cereals like Cheerios make good treats, and don’t forget to try rewarding your doggo with a few pieces of popped popcorn. But whenever you can, give your dog treats that improve their health as well as tickle their taste buds.

Treat your dog to a healthy life

A woman treating her dog to a healthy dog treat

If you want your dog to have its best and longest life, you need to control what they eat, and that means that you should give them the healthiest treats possible. Don’t overdo the treats because an overweight dog will not be a happy dog. With a little work and creativity on your part, you will find the best treats for your doggo and help to keep them happy and healthy.


[1] How Many Pet Treats for Cats and Dogs? (

[2] How Many Treats You Can Give Your Dog During Training (