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.
The healthiest treats will contain natural ingredients and be made from mostly meat – I recommend avoiding biscuit-type treats as they will contain grains and filler. 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. You can also feed scraps of pasture-raised meat – just cut cooked or dried meat into small pieces and your dog will love you for it ! Limit cheese and other dairy products.
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. These are products such as tracheas, ears, snouts, hooves, and bones. While this may be a bit disconcerting at first, using all parts of the animal is actually a more sustainable approach.
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. It is also important to be sure that these products are well-sourced, and not factory-farmed. We want to be both feeding treats that are more nutritious and not supporting the cruelty of confinement farming.
Treat your dog well!!