on August 29, 2016
When it comes to choosing the right treats for our dogs, the options can get overwhelming. There are so many different things to consider, so how can you ever make sure you’re buying something that’s healthy and delicious? While there is no one perfect treat for each and every dog, there are several things that we think are important to examine. To help you, we’ve broken them down into separate categories here.
You are what you eat, they say, so making sure you’re putting safe ingredients into your dog’s body is a good way to make sure they stay healthy. Just like commercial dog foods, treats can be filled with nasty fillers and other dangerous ingredients. You’ll want to avoid grains such as corn, wheat and soy, sweeteners like sugar and corn syrup and preservatives like BHA and BHT. There are plenty of other harmful ingredients and we’ve discussed them here on our site in another article. If there are any ingredients that your dog is allergic to, you’ll want to avoid them as well. Consider what ingredients are healthy and safe and what your dog does best eating to get an idea of what to look for and avoid.
You’ve probably read a lot of the news stories about dogs getting sick and even dying from treats made in China. While all companies can have recalls and poor quality ingredients, buying from a company that manufactures treats in a country whose standards you’re familiar with is important. For example, the United States, Canada and European Union have very strict standards when it comes to pet food production, so you’re at least guaranteed a higher level of safety when treats are made there.
Size & Purpose
The size of your treats will depend largely on the size of your dog and what you’re using the treats for. If you’re looking for a training treat, you’re going to want something small enough that your dog can chew very quickly in order to continue the lesson. If you’re looking for a long-lasting chewable treat, you’ll want something that’s going to take a while for your dog to gnaw on. Whatever the purpose is, the size is relative to the size of your dog. Large dogs will be able to consume larger training treats much faster, and a treat too small might not be very rewarding for their hard work. On the flip side, a large treat will take a small dog way too much time to eat! Long-lasting chews should always be given under supervision, but you don’t want something that your large dog or heavy chewer is going to break into tiny pieces very quickly – this can become a choking hazard. Further, you’ll want your small dogs to minimize the risk of breaking their teeth on something too big and hard for them.
Canine obesity is a growing problem around the world. With higher quality foods come higher calories, because that’s generally what comes with added nutrition! Most trainers recommend cutting back on your dog’s regular meals if you’re doing a lot of training with treats and this is to prevent your dog from gaining unneeded weight. Further, too many occasional snacks and long-lasting chews can pack on the pounds. Obesity is a very serious problem that has long-term health effects, so it’s best to prevent your dog from gaining weight. Depending on what you’re using them for, look for lower calorie options or just keep in mind how many extra calories you’re adding to your dog’s diet.
There are thousands, if not millions, of different treats on the market available to dogs and their owners. You’ll want to find something that’s safe, healthy and that your dog thoroughly enjoys. Luckily, all of the options means we’re likely to find quite a few different treats that our dogs love. This means we can keep things exciting by switching them up and finding the perfect treats for training, casual snacks, long-lasting chew time and more. The search might seem daunting, but before you know it you’ll have a stash of perfect treats for every occasion!
Cover photo: Randy Heinitz via Flickr.