Dog treats are one of the best ways to train your pooch, reward it for good behavior, or simply show your furry friend some love. Like anything we feed to our pets, they should be made with high-quality, health-conscious ingredients. Finding the best healthy dog treats can be tricky, but we’re here to help.
Our digestive system is much different from a canine, so how do we know which ingredients are beneficial for dogs? We’ve included all the best ingredients to look for in dog treats, as well as some to avoid. Our pets enjoy snacks just as much as we do, and they’ll love healthy dog treats even more!
What Are Considered Healthy Dog Treats?
Healthy dog treats are bite-sized snacks that typically place emphasis on flavor. Naturally sweetened or savory treats give the dog an incentive to work toward without contributing to adverse effects associated with artificial ingredients.
Some training treats are manufactured specifically for dogs, while others are provided by Mother Nature. Fruits and vegetables are considered healthy treats for your dog, as is peanut butter. The more additives in a treat, the less likely it is to be safe for your pet’s overall wellness. A health-conscious snack should contain the best quality ingredients and nothing more. A product might have several beneficial qualities it boasts on the front of its label but hide unhealthy additives on the backside. These harmful ingredients may negate the helpful properties of the other constituents.
The next important factor to consider when gauging the healthiness of a dog treat is how many calories per serving it contains. Even the healthiest of snacks should be given in moderation, and since “treat” is a loose term, not all products contain the same about of calories. The best dog treats have a modest amount of calories that won’t affect your dog’s daily diet. Some snacks are made for specific breeds, though you should still make sure the serving size is appropriate for your pooch. Underlying health issues can also affect how beneficial a treat is for your dog.
A good rule of thumb for many dogs is to ask yourself whether you’d eat the treats yourself. This isn’t always the case, as some pets may need supplements or certain ingredients that are unsafe for human consumption (like raw meat and eggs).
Are Dog Treats Good for Dogs?
Yes, dog treats are good for dogs if they contain the right ingredients. Products made with unnatural preservatives and other additives are not healthy for your pup, even if it seems to enjoy the treat. Dogs can develop unhealthy eating habits like humans, so consider planning a daily diet with a vet.
As with human snacking, sometimes the problem isn’t whether we like the food, but how to stop eating it! Excessive munching outside of the animal’s standard diet can lead to an upset stomach, weight gain, and other health problems. Moreover, too many treats will diminish their usefulness in training.
It’s important that our pets love whichever treat we choose, but you can’t always trust the culinary reviews of your furry best friend. Dogs are usually not picky eaters, and they’ll easily devour foods like chocolate without realizing it’s poisonous for them.
Sometimes, what’s good for a dog and what they prefer are not always the same thing. If your dog likes unhealthy treats more than a natural snack, avoid succumbing to the dog’s preference. Try to rewire its taste buds by steadily removing anything that is not beneficial to your pet’s overall health.
While most dogs are not picky with their treats, some certainly can be. If this happens, it may be because the dog is used to a diet largely consisting of human cuisine. When your pet comes sniffing for scraps, remember that you’re helping its long-term well-being by refusing to give in.
Is It Bad To Give My Dog Too Many Treats?
All dogs should be well-fed and completely nourished. If you routinely offer treats to your dog, they should be factored into its meal schedule. Otherwise, a treat will add extra calories to its diet, which can result in weight gain.
Dogs generally don’t require many daily calories, though this is heavily dependent on their breed. For example, a Great Dane can need up to 3,000 calories a day, while a Chihuahua typically needs 225. Try to keep the treats to a maximum of 10 percent of your pet’s daily caloric intake.
Excessive treats can also disrupt canine training. If you’re using snacks to teach your pet commands, it should first and foremost seek your approval rather than a treat. A dog treat should be viewed as a bonus reward on top of your praise, not the sole reason for their obedience.
Dogs love structure in their lives, and that partly comes from having a clear master. Everyone knows a pup can be fiercely loyal, but they must learn who is in command and look after their wellness. If treats are used too often, they may associate tasty flavors with loyalty rather than your love and care.
To help keep your dog engaged in training without relying too heavily on treats, don’t offer the same reward for repeated actions. The best method is to get your pup to push itself to stay longer, sit more quickly, or heel closer to you. Only reward the dog with a treat if it has improved since the last session.
Is It Important to Monitor What Ingredients Are in Dog Treats?
Absolutely! Without checking the label of natural dog treats, you might discover too late that the manufacturer has a loose definition of the word “natural.” Some ingredients that seem suitable for a dog’s digestive tract may be harmful.
One example of a treat that might initially sound perfect for canines but is, in fact, dangerous is jerky. Dogs love meat, so it is an understandable conclusion to believe that jerky is suitable for them. Though, veterinarians warn that jerky dog treats (especially made from chicken) are harmful to dogs.
The best approach is to research a particular dog treat before you buy it. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors pet foods, and they receive thousands of complaints from owners. If a product is unsafe, you may discover why on the FDA’s website.
Another great way to monitor your pet food’s ingredients is to make sure you’re familiar with all of the additives listed on the label. Some companies know that people don’t want artificial ingredients, so they will use terms like “meat and bone meal” or “animal digest” to make them sound more natural.
We’ll take a closer look at what those terms actually mean further on in this article. Keep in mind that such labels are designed to sound better than they are without giving you much information. This might be done to cover up mystery meat, distract from poor nutritional value, or hide high sugar content.
What to Look for When Buying Healthy Dog Treats
If we can leave you with one lesson to take away from this article, it’s to look at a treat’s ingredients list rather than its label. Anyone can put phrases like, “Dogs love it!” on their product, and you can be certain that nearly every bag will have a smiling pooch on its front. The truth lies in what’s inside.
These are the best healthy dog treat ingredients:
- Meat (free range is best)
- Chia seeds
- Sweet Potato
- Essential Fatty Acids (omega-3 and 6)
- Peanut butter
Treats that are natural or organic are usually safe for dogs. Many people use these terms interchangeably, but natural and organic do not mean the same thing when it comes to food. “Organic” is a term regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The USDA’s regulations ensure that organic products don’t contain antibiotics, growth hormones, artificial pesticides, or herbicides. “Natural” is a term that typically applies to the food ingredients used, regardless of whether they were grown using artificial pesticides or herbicides.
Since organic is a more strictly regulated term than natural, we advise looking for products that have both terms. If natural dog treats are also organic, they’re the best of both worlds. They contain ingredients grown in a field rather than a test tube, and no harmful hormones were used.
Other ingredient certifications include “human-grade,” “vet-approved,” and “VOHC approved” (Veterinary Oral Health Council). Human grade means that the treats are safe for people to consume, too, though this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s best for your pup. A poor-quality human-grade treat isn’t much better than table scraps. Look for additional labels like vegan, vet-approved, or VOHC approved.
Dog Treat Ingredients to Avoid
The best treats are made by manufacturers that know not only what to put in their product, but also what to leave out. If you see an ingredient listed below in your dog treats, it isn’t the best choice for your furry friend:
- By-product: The remains of an animal carcass after the human-grade meat has been picked off of it. What remains is digestible by canines, but rendered by-products provide inconsistent nutrition.
- Meal: Rendered bones, blood, or meat that has been dried to maximize the amount of protein per portion. The process of creating meal degrades the initial substance severely, making it difficult to measure the exact digestible nutrients it offers.
- Beef tallow or lard: Rendered fat that offers dogs delicious flavors but low or no nutritional value.
- Jerky: The FDA has received thousands of complaints regarding jerky treats, most of which were made with chicken and imported from China. The FDA reminds dog owners that jerky is not necessary for a balanced diet.
A dog showing symptoms of itchy skin, vomiting, or diarrhea may be suffering from food allergies. Some common allergies are triggered by meat, dairy, or eggs, which can be found in most treats. Other additives that can affect some dogs with allergies include:
If your pup has allergies, discuss a diet and appropriate treats with a veterinarian.
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Dog treats made with artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives are not healthy for your pet. Research has shown that all nine color dyes approved for use in United States food products raise health concerns. Fortunately, there are plenty of plant-based dyes that are safe for animal consumption.
What Are the Best Healthy Dog Treats?
The best healthy dog treats don’t always come in packaging, but you want to be certain they’re made responsibly when they do. That’s why we at HolistaPet ensure our CBD dog treats and soft chews are made natural, organic, vegan, and delicious. Our CBD treats and chews contain:
- L-theanine: An amino acid found primarily in tea and some mushrooms.
- Chamomile: The chamomile flower is best known for tea, and its antioxidant properties can help your dog’s overall wellness in numerous ways.
- Hemp seed powder: Rich in omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, our hemp seed powder is made from high-quality crops regulated by the FDA.
- Cannabidiol (CBD) oil: CBD interacts with receptors in your dog’s body, boosting its endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS modulates essential bodily functions. CBD can calm your pup and alleviate tension, which can be particularly beneficial in training.
Some of the best canine treats are natural, like these:
- Sweet potatoes
- Green beans
Final Thoughts – Healthy Dog Treats
Healthy treats are a great way to keep your dog’s wellness in tip-top shape while simultaneously giving them a nice reward. Fruits, veggies, or treats like our CBD biscuits and soft chews are the best options for your pooch to get a balance of exceptional flavors and healthy additives! Learn more by checking out these nutrition guides for your dog.