The Best Treats for Dogs: Healthy & Tasty
by Tudor Nikolas on Oct 21, 2023.
I often feel that giving my dog a treat is satisfying both for myself and for him too. Why is that? After all, I'm not getting anything out of it, surely.
But actually we all are! As responsible and affectionate dog owners that love to care for our dogs, seeing them happy gives us that inner satisfaction and happiness.
And nothing brings me more happiness than knowing that my four legged canine friend is getting only the best of dog food and treats.
The only problem is that not all treats are created equal. Some are glorified junk food with no protein and few calories, while others are nutritional powerhouses that can supplement your dog's diet wonderfully. You should be aiming to only feed your dog the latter type.
So let's take a look at the concept of nutritional treats, and we will even touch upon the concept of treats as dietary supplements. Our goal isn't just to treat for joy or as part of training, but to improve their health and happiness with every tasty bite!
What Makes a Dog Treat Great
Both online and offline, the pages and aisles of pet stores are laden with an overwhelming range of dog treats. Pet stores are essentially a mini supermarket for dogs.
With good marketing at play comes the promises of health, satisfaction, and indulgence for your pet.
But what should you focus on to only buy useful treats for your dog?
Every treat is a chance to contribute to your dog's daily nutritional intake. Although dog treats should not contain foods toxic to dogs, they may still contain harmful nutrients such as high sugars, salts and saturated fats. These add nothing to a dog’s health and only contribute to obesity.
The right treats should contain essential nutrients that support various functions, such as skin and coat health, digestion, joint health, and more.
They usually achieve this by being rich in proteins, good fats (like omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils) and vitamins and minerals. and preferably, be low in added sugars and salts.
Natural and High Quality Ingredients
The best treats are made from wholesome, natural ingredients. These treats often list real meat, vegetables, or fruits as their primary components, not by-products or artificial fillers.
Really try to avoid treats that contain artificial preservatives, colours and flavours. Just like the food for humans, the closer the treat is to its natural state, the better it is for your dog.
If you tend to go for organic food for yourself, why not also choose dog treats that may contain organic ingredients. These also tend to be better ethically sourced.
Remember that a bigger and better known brand is not necessarily better. It’s often the smaller and local producers that will have the healthiest of dog treats. This is because they make small batches and will often use local ingredients too.
TIP: Check your local farmer’s market for tasty dog treats. These usually come alive at weekends either on Saturdays or Sundays. Look for home made and oven baked biscuits as these are usually lower in unhealthy fats.
Appropriateness for Dietary Needs
Dogs, like humans, can have a wide range of dietary needs. Some dogs may be intolerant to grain, lactose or others may be on a low fat diet. Others may have various food sensitivities or allergies so they need hypoallergenic dog treats.
Don’t forget about your own dog’s dietary requirements when purchasing the treats for them. A good manufacturer will always specify on the packaging whether their treats are suitable for any special dietary requirements.
Here is a table of ingredients commonly found in dog treats that are also beneficial and generally healthy.
|Chicken||Protein||High in protein, essential for muscle growth and repair|
|Beef||Protein||Rich in proteins and essential amino acids|
|Lamb||Protein||Good protein source, often well-tolerated|
|Salmon||Protein/Omega-3s||High-quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids for coat health|
|Blueberries||Antioxidants||Antioxidants for immune health and fibre for digestion.|
|Spinach||Vitamins/Minerals||Vitamins A, B, C, and K. Also contains iron, and antioxidants|
|Carrots||Vitamins/Minerals||Vitamin A benefits eye health, and also rich in fibre to aid digestion|
|Sweet Potatoes||Fibre/Vitamins||Vitamins A, B6, and C, fibre, manganese|
|Pumpkin||Fibre/Vitamins||Fibre for digestion, vitamin A for vision and immunity|
|Flaxseeds||Omega-3s/Fibre||Omega-3 fatty acids for skin/coat, fibre for digestion|
|Peanut Butter||Protein/Fats||Protein, heart-healthy fats, vitamins B and E|
|Oats||Grains/Fibre||Soluble fibre, minerals, vitamins|
|Brown Rice||Grains/Fibre||Fibre, vitamins, and minerals, easy to digest|
Types of Healthy Dog Treats
You can now buy or make dog treats in all shapes, sizes, and flavours. While variety is fantastic, they each have their own purpose and benefits. Let’s take a look at four ways of classifying them:
Hard & Crunchy Treats
Crunchy treats, like biscuits and cartilage are both satisfying to crunch and also beneficial to your dog’s dental health.
The mechanical action of breaking down a hard biscuit can help take plaque off your dog's teeth and freshen their breath by reducing tartar build-up.
Rubbery treats such as Whimzees are specifically made for this purpose of cleaning your dog’s teeth as they bite hard into them.
Other options for ensuring your dog has clean teeth of course, include our own organic Teeth & Gums Powder. Thought I wouldn’t classify this as a treat, it is a wholesome and beneficial supplement to add to your dog’s food.
Soft treats are usually smaller and can be useful for training, given their palatable texture and typically strong aroma. They're also easier on the mouths of senior dogs or those with dental issues.
The big danger with the soft dog treats is that a lot of brands use artificial flavours and colourings. Try to avoid these. Go for those that only have natural flavours and colours. The key here is also to find soft treats that are low in calories and high in protein, avoiding those laden with sugars and fats.
Frozen/ Chilled Treats
Very popular in the hot summer months, frozen or chilled treats can help cool your dog down. They're also excellent for teething puppies. You can find commercially available options, or make your own by freezing pureed fruits or other smoothie combinations for example.
Here is a recipe that we came up for making frozen watermelon treats. These treats are not only about temperature; they're also about lasting longer and providing hydration.
We covered a bit of this already, but you can also make your own dog biscuits or other dehydrated meals. With Halloween coming up, why not try to make pumpkin biscuits!
Here is a useful video from Youtube on how to make this recipe.
Alternatively, you could also try your skills at making some dog macarons. Or simply choose one of our hamper baskets with premium home made dog macarons. They're also 100% natural!
Treats as Supplements
In the last section, I just wanted to talk about using treats as supplements to help you achieve specific health needs. The best benefits to aim for will of course depend on your dog’s breed, age activity level and other medical conditions.
At Fetched we only have dog supplements to be used as food toppers. However, we are currently working on some unique formulations. Expect these to be released next year! We really look forward to bringing you more delicious and natural treats that will also improve your dog’s health!
Here are four supplement treats that you can expect from us in the next year:
Probiotic Treats: Digestive issues are common in dogs, and probiotic treats are a fantastic way to ensure their gut health is in check. These treats are especially beneficial for dogs with sensitive stomachs or those on antibiotics. We know antibiotic use can kill the good bacteria in the stomach. This gives the bad bacteria an opportunity to overgrow, thus potentially causing digestive issues after an antibiotic course.
Joint Support Chews: For breeds prone to joint issues or senior dogs, treats enriched with glucosamine, collagen or hyaluronic acid can be beneficial. These compounds support joint health and can improve mobility. It's also useful to educate yourself in how to recognise joint problems in your dog. The earlier you make the diagnosis, the quicker the treatment and the better the prognosis and quality of life.
Antioxidant-Rich Treats: Antioxidants play a critical role in maintaining your dog's immune system and general wellbeing, as well as preventing molecular aging. Treats rich in antioxidants usually contain ingredients like blueberries, cranberries, or certain sea weed.
Blueberries in particular may also have a role in improving cognitive ability as per this report.
Skin and Coat Health: Look for treats containing fish oil, flaxseed, or vitamin E, known to improve skin and coat health. Collagen can also help with skin and coat health, hence why our collagen for dogs product is marketed that way. These superfoods and vitamins can be particularly helpful for dogs with dry skin or shedding issues.
There you have it. I hope you now have a better idea of what ingredients to look for in dog treats and which ones to avoid. Also keep an eye on our page for our upcoming dog superfood treats!