You only want the best for your dog, just like you’d only want the best for your child, but you know that your dog’s nutritional needs aren’t the same as your own. Likewise, you know that your dog has certain favorite treats, and you’re probably wondering whether they’re good for your dog’s health or not. In this article, we’ll discuss healthy dog treats and suggest a few options which your dog will love.
What Are a Dog’s Nutritional Needs?
This is a question that’s often floated in the context of picking out a treat, but it’s a bit misplaced. Your dog shouldn’t be getting their primary nutrition from treats! Treats should be healthy and nutritious, but they should not make up a large percentage of your dog’s diet.
If you find yourself feeding your dog more than a small fraction of your dog’s daily calorie ration in treats, you should pare back a bit.
What Shouldn’t Be in a Dog Treat?
There is a very long list of items that your dog should not ever eat whether in a treat or elsewhere. In the context of most dog treats, the big demon that crops up all the time is added grains. Dogs don’t digest grains very well, but grains are often used as fillers in low-quality treats.
Your dog will happily chow down on treats with grains, but they may have indigestion later on as a result. Beware of dog treats which are extremely inexpensive, and be sure to check on the nutrition information.
Many people think that homemade treats are the best option for their dog, but healthy homemade dog treats may not always be the healthiest option if they’re packed with grains or use an unhealthy binder, even if your dog loves them. Many binders like xylitol are harmful to your dog, even if it binds healthy ingredients together conveniently.
How Do I Know if My Current Dog Treats are Healthy?
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Your dog treats should fall roughly within the guidelines of what a dog needs to consume to remain healthy. They should also have a very low grain content, or, preferably, have zero grains whatsoever.
Dog treats should probably not have much sugar or calcium, as both of these can interfere with excretion. Natural dog treats are not necessarily healthier than their synthetic counterparts; some natural dog treats have an abundance of animal by-products which are harmless in small quantities but unhealthy when eaten too frequently.
Likewise, puppy treats may have a slightly different and more caloric combination of ingredients than regular dog treats, which means that they may not be healthy dog treats for a grown dog.
Salt and butter are also unhealthy in large quantities, which prompts many people to ask can I feed my dog popcorn? Yes, so long as it’s not just any old popcorn. Unbuttered and unsalted popcorn is just fine.
Too much fat or salt are the most common causes of a given dog treat being unhealthy.
How to Choose the Right Treat
Picking the right healthy dog treats will depend in part on your dog’s preferred tastes and also on avoiding treats which may have ingredients that are detrimental to your dog’s health. Itemize the kinds of treats that your dog likes, and compare it with the information we provided regarding a dog’s nutritional needs and things that you shouldn’t be feeding your dog.
You should also have a few tiers of dog treat: one that is clearly your dog’s favorite, one that your dog likes a lot to use as a dog training treat, and one that is small and you can distribute frequently.
Dog training treats should be a different kind of treat than your everyday healthy dog treats; they need to be both extra healthy (because your dog will need a lot of them) and extra tasty. So really, you don’t need to choose just one dog treat—you need to choose several different dog treats, all of which must be healthy for your dog.
Dog Treat Reviews
Now that you’ve learned all about what dogs need and what dog treat traits are desirable, it’s time to review a few different dog treats so that you’ll have a few ideas for treating your dog right. Here are a few of the best dog treats that will also be healthy dog treats.
BLUE Wilderness Trail Treats Grain-Free Duck Biscuits Dog Treats
BLUE Wilderness Trail Treats Grain-Free Duck Biscuits Dog Treats are eminently affordable treats which cater to the dog with a more sophisticated palate who likes duck. If you know much about duck, you’ll know that it’s fattier than other poultry, which means that you need to be careful about how many of these treats you feed your dog.
The advantage of these treats is that they’re grain free and that they have a little bit of fiber to help your dog pass the relatively high crude fat content. These dog treats are a good treat to keep on hand for special occasions but are far too fatty to be a training treat or an everyday treat.
Interestingly, this brand of dog treats also includes omega fatty acids in small quantities, which, while not necessary for dog nutrition, is informally said to add sheen to a dog’s coat.
- Duck is an uncommon flavor which your dog will find novel
- Contains omega fatty acids to promote good coat health
- Contains zero grains
- Has a little bit of fiber
- Crunchy, which your dog may like
- Has a high percentage of fat
- Has a relatively high 41 calories per treat
- Crunchy, which your dog may dislike
- Your dog may dislike the flavor of duck if it is used to eating chicken treats
Hill’s Ideal Balance Soft-Baked Naturals With Chicken And Carrots Dog Treats
Hill’s Ideal Balance Soft-Baked Naturals With Chicken And Carrots Dog Treats are a lightweight dog treat that’s great for training or everyday use, provided that your dog likes carrots. As a lightweight treat, this treat doesn’t have much protein or much fat but does have some fiber, which is helpful.
This treat also has no grains or any gluten and should be easy on every dog’s stomach. Pickier dogs may not go wild for this treat due to its vegetable content, but you can distribute this treat relatively freely without much worry because its main ingredients are chicken and carrots.
These treats are also good for aging dogs or dogs who don’t like crunchy treats, but the flip side of this fact is that dogs craving a real meaty treat experience will be left unsatisfied.
- Lightweight treat that’s not going to get your dog fat
- Good for training
- Chewy, not crunchy, which your dog may prefer
- Great for dogs who love carrots
Cons, won’t satisfy dogs who:
- love meaty flavors
- dislike carrots
- like crunchy treats
- dislike chewy treats
Triumph Dog Turkey, Pea, And Grain Free Jerky
Triumph Dog Turkey, Pea, And Grain Free Jerky is an interesting treat in the sense that it’s a jerky, but contains pea as a filler, along with several other vegetables and even berries. It’s unclear what flavor profile this treat provides, but it’s high in protein and low in fat, so it’s healthy at a minimum.
Unlike many other dog treat brands, you know all the ingredients thanks to transparency on the part of the manufacturer, so it may be worth paying the slightly higher price for this treat. This treat is a special occasion treat, anyway.
Given that it’s a jerky, your dog will have to chew on this treat for a while before it’s fully consumed, which as we’ve discussed can be either a positive or a negative attribute of a treat. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, you may want to avoid this treat, however– it has a lot of different ingredients.
- Unique flavor profile
- Jerky provides chewability
- Good ratio of protein to fat
- Your dog may not like one of the many ingredients
- May be too sweet for some dogs
- Too heavy for use as an everyday treat
Wellness CORE Marrow Roasts Natural Grain Free Dog Treats, Turkey
Wellness CORE Marrow Roasts Natural Grain Free Dog Treats, Turkey is a chewy style treat that seems to be somewhere between a jerky and a normal chewy treat. There are also a few ingredients in these treats which your dog may love, or completely reject, such as rosemary extract, green tea extract, and spearmint extract.
This treat claims to be grain free, which is true, but it does contain a flour made of chickpea, which is healthy enough but only in moderation. If your dog enjoys the richness of turkey and a flourish of other novel flavors, this treat might be something they could enjoy on a daily basis.
- Contains herbal extracts to create novel flavor profile
- Chewy and meaty without being too dense in calories
- Contains omega fatty acids via its use of chickpea flour
- Uses many unnatural ingredients
- Your dog may not like the flavor profile of the extracts
Rocco And Roxie Gourmet Jerky Dog Treats
Rocco And Roxie Gourmet Jerky Dog Treats are a jerky style treat which will keep your dog busy gnawing for a while. While not the best value, there are a few human-friendly features and an abundance of dog-friendly features which make this treat a good choice.
Anti-odor features prevent this treat from rubbing off a foul odor onto your hands, which can be a huge plus for your sake. This is an important feature because the jerky is brittle enough to be breakable, so you don’t have to commit to giving your dog an entire stick of jerky when you want to deliver a reward.
Unfortunately, the information on the ingredients and nutrition of these treats are not disclosed by the manufacturer, so it’s impossible to know if these treats are grain free or exceptionally healthy.
- Has human-friendly features like anti-stink coating and breakable jerky
- Great for a special occasion treat
- Some chewiness with a bit of resistance
- Lack of information regarding ingredients makes it hard to say whether the treat is healthy
- Probably too dense to use as a training treat
That wraps up our reviews of the healthiest dog treats. In our opinion, the Hill’s Ideal Balance Soft-Baked Naturals with Chicken and Carrots Dog Treats are the healthiest of the bunch because of their sheer simplicity, good protein to fat ratio, and because they’re grain free.
The Hill’s Ideal Balance Soft-Baked Naturals with Chicken and Carrots Dog Treats aren’t going to get your dog fat, and they’re healthy and safe natural ingredients which the manufacturers are completely open about.
Hopefully, you have a few ideas about which treats are good for dogs, and which treats your dog should avoid. Remember, your dog likes to have several different types of treats, so you may be interested in looking for more dog treat options in the future.