Are your Dog’s Treats Healthy?

March 12, 2016

Are Your Dog's Treats Healthy?

You spend a lot of time in the dog food aisle, weighing this brand’s nutrition against that brand’s, comparing first ingredients and the percentage of byproducts, asking the sales clerk for her educated opinion.

But do you pay the same attention when selecting your dog’s treats?

Treats aren't as regulated as dog food

It’s estimated that 40 percent of dog owners give their pets treats for training purposes, upon performing a trick or, ahem, after the dog does his business. Treats should only make up 5 to 10 percent of his daily caloric intake. Yet the Association of American Feed Control Officials doesn’t regulate, test, approve or certify dog food, including treats.

It sets the nutritional standards for a balanced diet, yet it’s up to pet food companies to create products that align with the AAFCO’s standards and pet owners to make healthy choices for their pooches.

But even dog food can be difficult to decode for the average dog owner.  This complete guide to choosing a food for your dog will help!

What to look for in a treat

To avoid weight gain from treats, your dog will need options that are low-calorie, low-fat and high-fiber. (It also helps to choose treats that can be easily broken into pieces for use while training so his diet isn’t impacted too much.) To be certain about the ingredients in Fido’s treats, you might consider mixing some brown rice into his food, as it’s good for upset stomachs.

Read more about healthy diets for dogs

Alternatives to manufactured dog treats

Pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filler) is good for an overweight dog, as it helps him feel full faster. He should also enjoy plain air-popped popcorn, small pieces of vegetables (like green beans and broccoli) or fruit (like banana slices). Lesser-known treats okay for your dog include a small bit of cabbage, frozen sardines, cauliflower and dehydrated apricots.

The problem with feeding him table scraps, of course, is that it may cause him to linger around the dinner table or even start begging during your mealtime. You know one of those annoying and common behavior problems in dogs.

If you do want to give him food from the fridge, try to do it at a time when you aren’t also trying to eat so he’s less likely to associate you sitting at the table with a tasty treat in his mouth.

What qualifies as a healthy dog treat?

There are healthy dog treat options on the market. When you look at the ingredients, know that they’re listed in order of weight meaning there’s more of the first ingredient than the second. However, if the first two ingredients weigh the same, the manufacturer can list the ingredients of same weight in whatever order it wants.

If there’s a sweetener in the treat, you want to look for applesauce, honey or molasses rather than artificial sweeteners. When picking a dog treat, you want to select one whose ingredients you recognize, just as when you grocery shop for yourself; fresh, locally sourced, unprocessed foods are best. Avoid artificial preservatives and artificial coloring. 

Remember there are ways to reward your dog when working on obedience training other than with a treat.  Big praises and special dog toys are also very effective for rewarding expected behavior.

Added bonus: treats that are good for your dog and the environment

In addition to being healthy for your dog, it’s a bonus when treats are good for the environment. Check the label to see if the packaging is made with recycled materials. And some dog treat manufacturers donate a percentage of their sales to charity, so be on the lookout for that feel-good opportunity, too.



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Perfect for aggressive chewers

Our lab can chew thru anything - and so far this doesn't even have a mark on it, even though it never leaves his mouth - he even sleeps with it. BEST money spend and hoping for more toys to be added to lineup - we have all of them and love them all

Very Impressed

I have to pit mixes and they are PROFESSIONAL toy killers. The big name in "indestructible" dog toys is KONG. I have chunks of black rubber all over my house in minutes. I bought this one and the ring a few weeks ago and they are still going strong. I will be purchasing more from you guys.

Our Dogs Love Them

We have a Lab/Chow mix and a Aussie/Husky mix. They love the ball and stick we bought them for Christmas and they have not been able to chew them up.

Indestructable so far

This black toy stick is living up to it's name "indestructable". My 11 mo lab puppy loves it and if no one will throw it (she lasts longer than we do) she will lay down and chew on it. She has never been able to get even a piece of it and she tries very hard. Red kong balls she destroys, but not these Monster K9 toys. She also has the black ring with is her favorite toy of all.

Great products except for the frisbee

We have several of the toys and they are great for the most part.
However, our 11 month old pup has managed to damage both frisbees we have had.

The company was kind enough to send us a replacement after our initial purchase. But she took care of that one after a couple of weeks.