How to choose healthy dog treats?
We’ve already covered the most important aspects of how to choose a good-quality dog food and read dog food labels so now it’s time to address treats. After all, we don’t want to undo all the good you’ve done in selecting a premium-quality dog food by supplementing it with canine junk food!
Where to start?
Anyone who’s been to a large supermarket or pet store will realise that there are an overwhelming number of options available for dog-owners making it difficult to choose a nutritionally balanced, healthy treat.
The obvious place to start with is the ingredient list. Treats which are meat-based, minimally processed and low-in calories are the best.
Ideally you want to avoid treats with added sugar, fillers, additives, artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. Some treats will claim to be ‘natural’ but this is not a guarantee for it to be healthy. It’s a bit like saying crisps are natural but we know that they are not actually healthy and equally they are so processed that it’s not true to say that they are natural! Natural should mean that what you have in front of you is not too far removed from the original ingredient!
Types of healthy dog treats
- Air-dried treats
Air-dried treats and chews are one of the healthiest and most natural treats. These treats are either animal parts (primal range) cut-up and air-dried or fruit and vegetables preserved in the same way.
- Minimally processed treats & chews
Treats like Yak bars, and No-hide chews would fall into this category as there is some processing involved but it is minimal. Jerky treats can also be in this category, however, some of them can be quite unhealthy so always check the label! Always choose treats made with a limited number of natural, minimally processed, and reliably sourced ingredients. There’s no reason for fillers or an excess of chemical preservatives with this style of treat.
- Functional treats
These treats can be quite beneficial if your pooch is suffering from certain conditions such as arthritis or have some specific needs. They are designed to provide specific health benefits. Popular examples include dental chews as well as treats that contain added ingredients to support joint health, digestion or shiny coat or treats that help to calm your dog.
- Freeze-dried treats
Freeze-dried treats with healthy, raw ingredients are a fantastic option as they lock in natural flavours and valuable nutritional components that may be lost in other manufacturing processes.
One of the most popular and classic pet treats are biscuits or crunchy treats. They come in a variety of flavours, shapes, and sizes which makes them appropriate and appealing to a wide array of pets, regardless of size or life stage. They are also convenient, easy to store, and perfect for use as training rewards.
When choosing the right kind, you want to make sure it’s a treat that’s an appropriate size for your pet. And perhaps out of all the treats, it is most important here to check the ingredient list. Make sure the product contains high-quality, human-grade ingredients with no added chemicals or fillers. Since the manufacturing of these treats changes their shape and appearance, it’s easy to hide those undesirable ingredients. If the label has far too may unpronounceable names or even if it’s just too long, put it back on the shelf. As always, when unsure, pass and grab something else you can have confidence in.
Just remember that treats are great for dogs as they:
- can promote good oral health
- beat boredom and unwanted behaviour
- help with reinforcing positive behaviour
- can supplement a dog’s diet
- help your dog to feel calm & relaxed
However, not all treats are equal so choose wisely! Treats should be treats and supplement the diet instead of replacing it so don’t overdo it.
If you have any questions, please drop us a line or leave a comment.