Kibble and Treats

Kibble and treats are making both dogs and people unhealthy and overweight. That, combined with eating the same highly-processed  flavored starch, will make both you and your dog suffer. When you have the habit of snacking or nibbling, your dog will eventually copy the habits. Here is a real life story which will explain exactly what I mean.

A few weeks ago, I was having coffee with a friend from high school, when she started complaining about her fat pug. It was true. Bo, whose full name was Bonanza, had a spread like the Ponderosa. Bo was a pug but he looked like a pig, a fat pig.

Kibble, treats make both dogs and people unhealthy and overweight

“I don’t understand, I don’t understand” she said, “ I feed him just one cup of some (don’t remember the name but horribly expensive designer diet dog food) a day. I don’t know why he is so fat. Do you think it could be his thyroid. You’re a doctor. What do you think?”

I have to tell you I was speechless. And, as you can probably tell from this book, that doesn’t happen often. I closed my gaping mouth and stared at her. She is my friend. She aced her SATs and graduated at the top of her class. I would never hesitate to go her for legal advice. I stared at her and I could see the truth. She didn’t have a clue.

“I think it might be the treats,” I explained to her gently.

“What treats?” She asked me blinking her eyes innocently.

At this point, I decided to switch tactics. I am after all a surgeon, not a psychiatrist. I cut right to the heart of the matter or, in this case, the brain.

“That dog eats all day long – between you and the kids he never stops.

“Well, we might give him a bite now and then.” She admitted. “But never when he begs. He used to beg for treats all the time and then we took him to the dog trainer and cured him of all that.”

I shook my head. Liz is so smart but sometimes she can be dumber than a dog. Literally. Pugs are smart and Bo is probably smarter than most. He was playing that family like a violin. He might not know how many calories are in his diet kibble but he knows another dog brain when he sees one.

See, your dog brain, your emotional brain, just wants the food. The dog brain will try something and if that doesn’t work, it will often try something else. It doesn’t have a very advanced repertoire but it doesn’t need one. When the dog brain finds a strategy that works, it will just keep using that one.

Dog brains don’t ever get into thought loops. Dog brains are in the here and now. They react to situations. They react to opportunities. If the dog brain knows how to get you to feed it a cookie, it will. It doesn’t matter if the dog brain is your head or that of your “too smart for his own good pug.”

“Look” I said patiently. After all, don’t I recognize the behavior because I have done myself? “Bo doesn’t beg anymore because that doesn’t get him a treat.” Bo sits quietly and patiently at your feet because he has learned THAT’s what gets him a treat.” “You and the kids feed him all day long.”

“I still find that hard to believe” she said. “Are you sure I shouldn’t have his thyroid checked?”

Liz knows I love her. She also knows that I respect her. But enough was enough.

“Liz” I said. “You know I love you and respect you but I’m telling you as a doctor it ain’t the thyroid, it’s the treats.”

She shook her head doubtfully. I decided to approach her on her own turf.

“Liz” I said. “You do realize that you just fed Bo your toast. He follows you guys around like a Roomba on a crumb mission. Eating up all the food you guys drop and dribble all over the place.”

“But I never see any food laying around,” she protested.

I quickly retorted “Obviously that’s because he quickly and quietly destroys all the evidence.”

There, I thought to myself, refute that!

She looked at me sternly and said “You coulda been a lawyer.”

“Thanks!” I replied. “I learned from the best you know, my debate partner from high school actually.

I heard she went on to become quite a sharp lawyer.”

We both burst out laughing. Under the table, Bo looked up at the sound, licked his chops and sniffed around for more crumbs.

Learn more about how to avoid snacking and nibbling on