Pet treats are available in many sizes, shapes and flavors. How do you decide which are healthy and which are junk food?
First of all, read the ingredients – treats that are full of grains and by-products will likely be the equivalent of feeding your pet a candy bar. These may be OK on occasion, but not on a regular basis.
The healthiest treats will contain natural ingredients and be made from mostly meat – I recommend avoiding grains as much as possible. Meat – based treats are the healthiest for dogs because meat is their natural diet. Commercial treats are available, but be careful to read the label to find out where the treats are from and if chemicals are used in the processing. The Wellness company makes a great soft jerky treat called Pure Rewards that can be broken into small pieces for training. See more at Wellness . You can also feed scraps of human-grade meat – just cut cooked or dried meat into small pieces and your dog will love you for it ! A note on cheese, one of the universal favorites in the dog world. A little is OK, but I do not recommend making it a regular treat. Cheese is high in fat, which can make it hard to digest as well a making it hard on the waistline; plus, dairy is not a natural food for dogs once they are weaned.
There is a large variety of treats made from left-overs of the meat processing plants. These are in the form of body parts that are not typically consumed, such as tracheas, ears, snouts, hooves, and bones. Ok, a little disgusting I know, but the parts need to go somewhere and these treats have the benefit of providing entertainment in the form of chewing as well as a good teeth-cleaning in some cases. See my post on bones for more information on bone safety. These products are available in most natural pet stores and from most raw pet food distributors.
The bottom line on treats is the more natural the better. Do a Google search on natural pet stores and raw pet food and you will likely find resources in your area to find the most natural treats. Avoid biscuit type treats with corn, wheat or sugar on the ingredient list and minimized even the more natural forms of this type of treat – they must contain some sort of flour for processing and grains are not a recommended ingredient in your dog’s diet.
Treat your dog well!!