Posted on July 12 2020
For a dog owner, there’s nothing better than seeing your fur baby’s tail wag vigorously, and his face light up in anticipation of a yummy treat! But choosing healthy treats is every bit as important as choosing a healthy dog food. When it comes to picking the right treats for your dog, it’s all about reading the label and knowing what to look for. Here’s what dog parents need to know!
General Guidelines for Picking Healthy Dog Treats
Much like choosing healthy snacks for yourself, it’s best to start by reading the ingredients list. Ingredients that are highest on the list make up the bulk of the product, so they’re the most crucial. You want minimally processed, high-quality, whole food-ingredients to be at the top of the list.
Each ingredient on the label, especially those near the top, should be easily recognizable. For example, meat meal or animal fat could come from almost any source, but chicken or chicken fat can only come from chicken. Knowing what’s in your dog’s treats is essential, so avoid labels with vague ingredients.
Organic ingredients are less likely to be contaminated with chemicals, so the more organic ingredients the product contains, the better. Since this is a treat, a little bit of natural sweetener is fine. Honey and apple sauce are great choices.
If the treat you’re considering contains preservatives, make sure they’re natural, such as vitamins C or E. If the treat doesn’t contain any preservatives, be sure to pay attention to proper storage instructions and use-by dates.
Avoid any treat that contains artificial colors, dyes, or flavors. Artificial ingredients can often trigger allergy symptoms in dogs, and they’re sometimes linked to other health issues as well. If you’re unsure about any ingredient in a product, play it safe and ask an online veterinarian for help.
Types of Dog Treats and What to Look For
- Meaty Treats
Meaty treats that are made from animal muscle and organ meat are a great choice. Not only are they a favorite of most dogs, but they’re also high in healthy protein. When choosing meaty treats, look for products that contain only animal protein; no fillers like wheat, corn, or soy.
Meat-based treats can be a bit more expensive, but they don’t contain the unnecessary carbs that lead to weight gain and obesity in dogs. The best meaty treats are minimally processed and are often freeze-dried or dehydrated. Choose products with only a few ingredients and avoid any that contain fillers or artificial dyes or flavors.
- Biscuit/Cookie Style Treats
Dogs love a crunch treat, but it’s important to choose biscuit and cookie style treats with care. Many are corn or wheat-based, which can be fattening and lead to allergy-related itching and scratching. Wheat, corn, and soy-free biscuit-style treats are becoming much easier to find, and those are the ones you want.
If possible, choose a biscuit-style treat that contains mostly animal proteins, such as real meat, eggs, or dairy ingredients. Fruits and veggies are fine, too. Once again, choose minimally processed treats with as few ingredients as possible.
- CBD Treats
CBD treats for dogs offer a variety of health benefits for pets with anxiety, arthritis, allergies, and more. CBD is anti-inflammatory and supports brain health, so just about any dog can benefit from including it in their daily routine. Be sure to choose a high-quality, USA made product, like our Nano Bacon Cheese Chewies. They contain 150 mg of THC-free CBD, plus salmon oil for brain, heart, joint, and skin health. They’re also free of artificial ingredients and contain no wheat, corn, or soy.
- Freeze-Dried and Jerky Style Treats
Jerky style treats are popular with most dogs, and they’re usually pretty healthy. They are generally made from meat sources like liver, poultry, fish, beef, or even bison. Be sure to avoid any product with artificial ingredients and you should be good to go.
- Human Food Treats
Surprisingly, some human foods can actually be a healthy treat for dogs in moderation. Many dogs love fresh foods like frozen green beans, baby carrots, and apple slices. A small bite of lean meat, such as chicken or turkey, can also be safe and healthy for most dogs. Never give dogs fatty foods like hotdogs, and avoid crackers, cookies, and other junk foods. Garlic, onions, raisins, and grapes are toxic to dogs and should always be avoided. Before offering any human food to your dog, make sure it’s a safe choice.
- Dental Chews and Bone-Style Treats
Dental chews and bone-style treats are usually hard, digestible treats that are designed to reduce tartar and plaque buildup when your dog chews on them. The best options are those made from natural ingredients like sweet potatoes or real meat. Avoid any that are made from rawhide or animal bones because they can cause life-threatening intestinal blockages if large pieces are swallowed.
- Pig Ears
There’s no doubt that most dogs go crazy for pig ears. However, they’re not the best treat option for most dogs because they’re very fattening. Many times, they’re processed with chemicals that you wouldn’t want your dog to have. They can also break apart in large chunks and cause a life-threatening intestinal blockage if swallowed. You should also be aware that they are messy and might stain floors or furniture. It’s better to offer a dental chew, jerky, or digestible bone style treat for your dog to chew on and avoid pig ears, rawhides, real bones, and similar treats completely.
When picking out your dog’s treats, always read the ingredients label and don’t feed your dog anything that you wouldn’t want to eat yourself. Remember that even healthy treats can be fattening if you go overboard. Treats should never be more than 10% of your dog’s daily diet. You love your fur baby and want him to be healthy and happy, so take the time to choose and offer his treats with care.