The amount of dog treats that are on the market these days is staggering. Unfortunately, many of these options are not very healthy! So how do you know which ones to choose?
If you are asking yourself this question while walking up and down the dog treat isle in your local pet store, then you have come to the right place! In this post we are going to share with you the best treats for dogs, (in our opinion) and how to know if you are picking healthy treats for your best friend!
The Importance of treating your dog to HEALTHY snacks.
A lot of dog owners think it is OK to feed “non-healthy” treats to their pup because it is only an occasional snack. However, even if you are feeding high quality dog food, it is still very important to only give healthy and high quality treats as well.
Many dog treats on the market today are made with very poor ingredients, chemicals, and harmful additives. These ingredients can cause negative side effects such as: vomiting, digestive upset, high volume shedding, dry skin/coat, dull coat, eye irritation and watering, tear stains, allergic reactions, itchy skin, weight gain, and even diseases and cancers if used long term.
Nobody wants to see their dog suffer with any of the above ailments. Choosing a healthy treat for your dog can greatly reduce the risk of these issues, and negative health conditions in general.
How to choose healthy treats
When looking for high quality and healthy dog treats, you want to check the ingredients list. A good rule of thumb is if the ingredients list is long, or there are a lot of things that you are wondering what in the world they even are, it is probably a low quality, chemical filled product. Put the bag down, and RUN AWAY!
Look for natural ingredients that are easy to understand.
There are a few things that you should definitely AVOID when you are picking out treats for your dog.
Those things are:
- Artificial flavoring/sweeteners – Artificial sweeteners are not good for your dog, just as they are not good for you. Look for treats that have natural sweeteners like honey, molasses, or applesauce.
- Artificial colors – avoid any foods or treats that are brightly colored. This is not natural. Chemicals have been added to appeal to the human eye. That is literally the only reason why they are used. A simple tactic to try to trick humans into thinking they are somehow better because they are colorful. Do not be fooled! The same Dyes used in dog food and treats have been proven to cause allergies, behavioral issues, and even cancer in humans. It can definitely have the same negative effects on your dog as well. Stick to treats that are a neutral brown, tan, or cream color.
- Artificial preservatives – These will be listed as – BHA, BHT, calcium propionate, sodium nitrate, potassium sorbate, TBHQ, and ethoxyquin. Preservatives are used to make the food or treats last longer, but artificial preservatives are chemicals that cause trouble within your pup’s body. Some of these chemicals are even PESTICIDES. You want to make sure that the food and treats you pick out only use natural preservatives, which are usually made from Vitamin E or Vitamin C. These are typically listed as some form of tocopherol, ascorbate, or ascorbic acid.
- Chemical Humectants – This will be listed on the ingredients as propylene glycol. Avoid treats that contain this harmful chemical. This is to make the treat soft and chewy for the dog, but it has been known to cause a whole host of health issues including allergic reactions, stomach upset, watery eyes, dull coat, and more. Healthy and high quality treats will use a natural ingredient to keep the treats from drying out. These ingredients are usually something like molasses, or vegetable glycerin.
- Raw hides – Raw hides used to be considered safe and a great treat choice for your dog to chew and snack on, but more recently it has been discovered just how dangerous these bones can be, especially for toy breeds. There have been many cases of dogs choking on small bits of raw hide, and even more cases of them swallowing too large of a piece and that piece getting lodged in their stomach or intestines and causing a blockage. This can be life threatening for your pet.
- Treats manufactured overseas – There are a lot of treats that are made overseas, especially China, that have caused illnesses in dogs. It is best to stick with a treat that was manufactured in the USA, with the meat/ingredients used also coming from the USA. However, just because treats were made in the USA does not automatically mean that they do not contain the harmful ingredients listed above. Be sure to check the package over carefully, and avoid all of these things before you give the treats to your dog.
Our Top Recommendations
Now that we’ve discussed what to avoid, let’s talk about what treats you CAN give to your dog, and actually benefit their health while doing so!
All 8 of the treat options that I am about to mention do not contain:
- Artificial Colors
- Artificial Flavors
- Artificial Perservatives
- Propylene Glycol
This part is fun, because who doesn’t love the look on your pup’s face, and the whole body wiggling that occurs when they are about to receive a tasty morsel! With the following list of treats, you can also do a happy dance, knowing that what they are snacking on is also GOOD and BENEFICIAL for them! 🙂
So let’s get to it, shall we?!
1. Zuke’s Mini Naturals Treats – I could go on and on about how much I love these treats. My Yorkie LOVES these, which I am thrilled about because they are made with great ingredients, and they are only about 3 calories each, so you don’t have to worry about your dog packing on the pounds. These treats are perfect for training purposes as well. They are very small, and because they are low in calories, you can give a lot of them during training exercises, without feeling guilty or compromising your dog’s health. There are also even smaller sizes available for toy breeds and puppies!
– These treats come in several flavors such as: Chicken, Duck, Peanut butter, Rabbit, Pork and Salmon. You are sure to find a flavor that your dog loves!
– These do not contain Corn, Wheat, or Soy either which are unnecessary and can cause allergic reactions in some dogs.
2. Fruitables – Fruitables are another treat option that I totally LOVE. Much like Zuke’s treats, Fruitables are also small, low in calories, (about 9 calories per treat) and made with very healthy and natural ingredients. These treats, however, are made with fruits rather than proteins. With ingredients like apples, bananas, blueberries, molasses, and pumpkins… it almost makes you wonder if you can snack on them yourself! They are packed with fiber, and smell delicious. I am sure they taste delicious as well, although I cannot say from experience. Ha! But, my dog definitely gobbles them right up!
– Does not contain Corn, Wheat, or Soy.
3. Rocco & Roxie’s Jerky Treats – The top three treats on this list really all tie for our favorites because Gosh darn it, my pup and I are totally obsessed with these Jerky treats as well! I am being 100% honest when I tell you that when you open a bag of these treats, you will want to eat one yourself! They smell JUST LIKE beef jerky, and my Yorkie absolutely devours them. One thing that I love about these treats is that they come in long strips, but they are incredibly easy to break into small pieces and use for training, or if you just want to make the bag last longer. These treats are also made with all natural ingredients, and are super tasty and healthy for your pup!
– Does not contain Corn, Wheat, or Soy.
4. King Kanine – King Kalm Crunch Treats– These all natural and organic cookies are specially formulated by a Licensed Holistic Physician and Nutritionist. They are slowly baked at a low temperature and then dehydrated to maintain their nutritional value. These treats are a little different from the other treats I have mentioned because they are actually recommended to be used daily as a part of your dog’s health and wellness. Think of them more like a daily vitamin for your pup, but they taste delicious too! The cookie is Phytocannabinoid rich which is an ingredient that can help with health conditions in your pet such as: anxiety, inflammation, suppressed immune system and more!
– These crunchy cookies come in three awesome flavors: blueberry, honey oats, and apple cinnamon.
– Does not contain Corn, Wheat, or Soy.
– The King Kanine website also offers several other products including CBD (Cannabidiol) supplements. Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid compound found in the hemp plant. It is natural, plant based, non-toxic, and non-psychoactive…meaning it won’t cause a “high.” Continuous studies are being done on this compound and it’s ability to help with conditions such as: seizures, chronic pain, and cancer.
5. Wellness Core Pure Rewards – We love wellness core brand in general, so it makes sense that we also love their treats! These are made with all natural ingredients, derived from quality meat sources, and they are totally grain free. These bite sized, chewy, and delicious little morsels are only 5 calories per piece, so they make a great training treat as well.
– Comes in: Beef & Venison, Chicken & Lamb, Beef, and Turkey flavors.
– Does not contain Corn, Wheat, or Soy
6. Old Mother Hubbard – Old Mother Hubbard has been around since 1926 and is a trustworthy brand. They use all natural and premium ingredients for their bone shaped and crunchy treats. My pup does seem to prefer chewy treats, however she will eat these as well. If your dog likes crunchy treats best than these would be a great option for you!
– These treats come in many flavors, and sizes, to meet the needs of any pup!
7. Merrick Power Bites– These are awesome treats as well! They are also perfect size for training, and are made with high quality proteins, fruits and veggies. Merrick Power Bites are all-natural, grain free, and have a great taste. At least my pup thinks so. 😉 You can be sure that you are giving your dog a healthy yet delicious treat with these little Power Bites!
– Does not contain Corn, Wheat, or Soy
8. Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Treats – These treats have a limited ingredient list which can be great for dogs that suffer with food sensitivities. They have a crunchy texture, and are made from all natural ingredients. Natural Balance treats are specifically designed to support your dog’s digestive system too! I actually have not tried these with my pup yet, but I would like to, as she struggles with food allergies.
Healthy treats = Happy and Healthy Canine Friend.
All of these treats are tasty and healthy options for your dog. Chances are, he will never know that he is actually eating something that is GOOD for him!
Feeding your dog a well-balanced diet, and adding in some healthy treats is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your pet’s health. You’ve heard the phrase “You are what you eat?” Yes?
This applies to your canine friend as well. By investing in your dog’s nutrition, you are, in turn, investing into his well-being and quality of life.
Taking treats on the go!
Ok, so we’ve covered the importance of healthy treats, and our favorite ones…. but have you ever tried to bring treats on the go somewhere? Maybe to a park to do a training session, on a hike, or to the beach?
Typically you put them in a plastic baggy, or in your coat pocket right?
Then your pocket gets all gross and full of crumbs to the point where you feel like you might as well throw the coat away, or you are struggling trying to hold a baggy while working on a training session with your dog… this is what was happening to me!
But THEN I found THIS….. and my life was changed. Haha!
Introducing the Paw Lifestyles Dog Treat Training Pouch!
It seems so silly… It’s like a glorified fanny pack to store dog stuff… but people. It is so handy.
This convenient little storage bag can hold treats for your dog in the main drawstring pouch, toys for your dog to play with once you arrive at your super fun destination, and it can even hold your phone and keys in the zipper pouches, or little mesh section in the front!
You can choose to wear it, like I stated above, like an adorable fanny pack, or you can also use the shoulder strap, or sturdy belt clip that comes with it. The insides of this bag come completely inside out, which makes it crazy easy to clean as well.
It comes equipped with two D-rings on each side, so that you can easily clip on a training clicker when you are working on obedience training, or a collapsible water dish.
AND….. Wait for it….
You wanna guess what pops out of the front of the bag??? Guys. It’s poop bags…. This thing even stores POOP BAGS!
Maybe I am dumb for getting so excited over something like this, but it was seriously becoming a pain for me to carry all of this stuff separately, or some in a purse, and some in my pocket. This bag conveniently stores everything I need for my pup and myself in one simple place. They wanna’ play?… Your covered. They wanna’ treat?… Your covered! They gotta’ take a doggy dump??… You are TOTALLY COVERED!!
BOOM. I’m officially obsessed. If you can’t tell.
– I have listed, and included an Amazon link below for a few awesome extras that you may want to pick up if you decide to purchase one of these amazing bags!
Experiment and have fun!
All dogs have different personalities and prefer different flavors and textures. As I mentioned above, my Yorkie prefers chewy treats, but she is very food motivated, and will perform tricks for just about any treat that I put in front of her… I have yet to find one that she will not eat.
My parent’s Yorkie on the other hand, will only touch a few different kinds of treats, and will turn his nose up at anything other than those few that he loves!
Have fun with this process as you learn what kinds of healthy snacks are your pup’s favorites. Most dog’s will thoroughly enjoy trying out all kinds of different treats, and will do so with their whole body wagging. But, don’t be discouraged if your pup is a picky eater. Eventually you will find the perfect treat that your dog cannot resist!
– Willow and I love to hear from our readers! Do you have a different healthy treat option for your dog that you love? Let us know in the comments below!
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