Fellow Dog Lovers,
In a future article, Hound Dog Mom, Sandy, Jackie and I are thinking about sharing what we believe to be some of the best qualities to look for when considering commercial dog treats. And we’d love to hear your opinion.
What features and characteristics should a concerned pet owner look for in a quality dog treat? Now, please keep in mind, we’re not yet looking for a list of recommended treats. Actually, we’re looking for your suggested guidelines when choosing a good one.
Thanks for your help. Can’t wait to hear your ideas.
I want my dogs treats to be every bit as healthful as his food, so no junk ingredients, no chemicals, dyes, etc.
I also want a limited number of ingredients.
I agree with the Nut, also made & sourced in the USA, no chinese stuff for me, well, my dog actually!
I also agree with the Nut. There should be no artificial flavoring, no colors, and should not be made from chemicals, but from real quality ingredients.
Thanks for all the quick replies and suggestions. Please be as specific as you can. Don’t hold back. Don’t be afraid to identify the factors and features you like as well as those you don’t. Lydia and I are keeping a list of these items to help us create an infor,ative article to help our readers identify good treats.
We may not respond to each post. However, we’re scanning them regularly and transferring the best suggestions to our feature list. Thanks again for all your help.
I want treats that can be broken up into little pieces easily and aren’t super hard or mushy. I train for competition and need things I can conveniently carry in my pocket or hand.
OK, got it! Thanks.
Like BC said, I look for treats that are of the same high quality ingredients as the foods I feed. I too, look for limited ingredients due to food intolerance issues.
I’m different from Elizabeth in my preference for treats that are probably a bit harder, or denser. I feel like I’ve been ripped off when I buy some treats that are all crumbly and have a bunch of powder in the bottom of the package. Probably my favorite treats are Nature’s Variety Instinct. They’re small little bone shaped treats. There’s little waste in the bag. I can give my Golden one and snap another in half for my Cavalier.
I do occasional but some soft treats, but it seems like soft treats free recently have some undesirable ingredients, like vegetable glycerin, etc.
I also look for ways to add things to my dogs diets that they might not otherwise get as part of their regular meals. For example, Vital Essential tripe treats are just tripe, nothing else. They’re expensive, but a quality product. There is some waste with the crumble factor.
Thanks for all the detail. I like the Nature’s Variety treats, too. Thanks for the example.
Well, usually my dog’s treats are carrots, broccoli stalks, and bits of hotdog, hehe! I guess if I buy “dog treats,” they have to be made by a dog food brand that I already trust, sourced from the USA, made without chemicals, and made with whole ingredients. I don’t worry about the ingredients TOO much since she only eats them occasionally.
- This reply was modified 5 years, 1 month ago by meky6ra.
I would also like to add that the treats shouldn’t be high in calories and they should not expire quickly. I have bought many bags of treats that have expired, and even gotten mold when sealed, before I have used all of them. I’m not saying they should have added chemicals and preservatives to make them last longer, but should just be able to go the distance.
My new favorites are the sojos simply (meat) 3 varieties, turkey, lamb, or beef. 100% meat freeze dried. You also get a ton of pieces in the bag, so they last a while. Also lower calorie than a lot of other treats since there aren’t many other ingredients which is nice because I do a lot of training
Plates eos are large but soft, without a ton of ingredients. Also stinky, so work as a high value reward. I like to use them when I teach classes because they are big enough that the big guys get more than a taste, but soft enough that the little guys can have them torn up.
Zukes are pretty good and quick, but being bought by purina I’m keeping my eye on them
We have a brand here called boulder dog food company (they don’t make food though, lol) that makes chicken bits and turkey bits, another meat item that have a lot in the bag so I can really make them stretch
Thanks for all the great input, everyone. Taking lots of notes.
Also- what Betsy said about crumbly treats rings true. It’s why I don’t use soft and chewy buddy biscuits which are quite popular. I end up tossing a lot of them
Yes, I am pretty much going to describe the treats that I make. I am proud of them and they ARE what I consider an almost perfect dog treat. Why almost perfect? Because there are two types of dogs I would be CAUTIOUS of feeding my treats. They are dogs who have dehydration issues and dogs who have phosphorous related kidney issues. Why? because my treats are under 10% moisture and they are about 80% protein.
Don’t worry about this being spam I only supply ONE local pet store and if I made more they would take more!
The treats should be one ingredient, MEAT. There is no need for any flavorings, or ingredients needed to hold the treat together or anything like that.
QUALITY counts. Since I have been making treats I have learned a lot about the pet food industry. I would never use any pet grade ingredients and that includes marketing terms like:
Made from USDA inspected (insert meat here). Yes it was inspected but did it pass? Was it inspected on the way into the USDA facility but failed to make it through the USDA facility?
I learned that it all comes down to economics. If a piece of meat whether it be poultry, beef, fish, pork or whatever COULD be sold in the human market IT WOULD! Why, economics. If something could be sold in the human market for 1 dollar a pound it will NEVER find it’s way into the pet food market at 19 cents a pound. It’s simple economics, nothing else.
That’s why the treat I would look for would be Human-Grade and have been made every step of the way in the human food chain. In other words human edible. Almost every treat maker and dog food maker uses the terms USDA something or other.
Complete transparency. I wold never feed my dog anything I could not trace back all the way to the farm where the animals were raised. What they were fed, how they were housed and so on.
I don’t subscribe to the notion of TRADE SECRET or PROPRIETARY. I am an animal lover and I would be thrilled to know that my openness and transparency enabled YOU to make a homemade treat for your dog using MY recipe. I never believed that openness would hurt your company and I always felt that a company that made a truly high quality product would be PROUD of that product and happy to share with you the details that PROVE that it’s true and not just a marketing strategy.
Sample example of an acceptable treat
Chicken Jerky :
100% Whole chicken dehydrated at temps between 140 and 170 degrees F or freeze dried. No added ingredients other than a functional treat which could add DHA or Fish Oil or Turmeric or something like that. A properly made piece of jerky will last years without any refrigeration or preservatives.
Chicken traceable to the source. Human grade every step of the way.
Made and sourced in the USA.
A fat content below 10% for muscle meats and below 20% for organs. To show they didn’t use trimmings.
A protein content no lower than 70%. Again to show that they are using whole pieces of lean meat or Organs. Also because MOST dogs eat a diet that is low in meats and high in carbs (IMHO) so I would only want to add high protein meats to their diet.
In the sample example the 100% whole chicken should read:
100% whole boneless skinless chicken, breast or thigh.
Betsy – Great description, I like the NV treats too. Have you tried their (sorta new) freeze-dried raw that come in the little nibblets? It’s the same formula as their frozen food. Makes great training treats!
Aquariangt – Thanks for the description of EOS. I’ve seen them online before and was actually considering ordering them sometime because I liked the ingredients. Maybe I’ll try them now. 🙂
Gimborn Raw Naturals are our favorites. Our German Shepherd has a sensitive stomach and she tolerates these very well, plus they are of course made in the USA which is a must. They’re made with fruits, veggies, and real meat.
As I also do a fair bit of R+ training, I like the training “treats” I use to be small, about the size of a pencil eraser. Otherwise I need it hold together well so I can cut it up without ending up with a handful of crumbs. Uniformity is a bonus. I prefer moist over dry for training but I do use freeze dried liver. I often use fresh foods.
For general “treats” I think they should be portion controlled, calorie controlled and from a company with a strong reputation for quality control.
Because I have two dogs who can chunk easily, I look for small treats. My faves are Buddy Biscuits Itty Bitties and THK Quickies.
For chewing treats, we use the ones from THK, Wishes & Beams. I like them because they’re just fish.
Aimee makes a good point. General treats are different from training treats, at least in my mind. Training treats need to be very small, like the tip of your little finger. And if the treat isn’t that small, it needs to be dividable. Zukes are a good size. I like training treats that are smelly and very, very special to the dog, although I draw the line at fish. Because my dogs get such small amounts, I am not fussy about ingredients and, luckily, my dogs will/can eat anything.
For those of us that do not feel confident quite yet in feeding raw bones, I would like to find a safe and quality edible chew/bone type of treat. Something to occupy his time. I have been told to avoid pig ears.
Also, for training treats I have been using Ziwipeak daily dog venison and fish dry food, they are perfect little squares for training, and they’re very high interest, he loves them, we adjust his mealtime portion of his regular food to allow for these as treats and its actually a pretty cost effective way to treat I have found/
- This reply was modified 5 years, 1 month ago by arwyru24.
You might look into chew products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). Most chew treats are too hard and are harmful to dog teeth, which are surprisingly soft.
I agree with what most of the posters have asked for. In addition I would love to see organic meat in the treat.
My dogs are all small and 4 of 5 are over 10. We need treats that are easy to break up, few calories and only 1 or 2 ingredients. Treats that are mostly meat go over the best.
Favorites are Dr Beckers bites the beef or bison and Just Jerky chicken, beef or pork. The only ingredients are meat.
I love simple, natural and grain free treats that appeal to a wide variety of dogs. Not messy, easy to store, and not too expensive are also important criteria. Current favorite that fits the bill is Stewart’s dehydrated liver treats. About 90% of the dogs I work with love them and I even have some kitty patients that go crazy for these!
my favorite treats are made by Vital Essentials, they are raw freeze dried nuggets of green tripe, my guy goes crazy for them. Also, I’m a huge fan of the Orijen’s freeze dried treats, especially the Tundra flavor.
A lot of the others here have hit the nail on the head. I think good treats should contain the same ingredients that a good food would. That’s why I buy treats also made by many of the good food manufacturers like Blue Buffalo or Solid Gold.
I also look for treats that are made in the United States.
If they’re not made here, then I can live with treats that are made in Canada, Britain, Holland, Australia and New Zealand. I want a treat from some other country that has the same or similar standards that we have.
Thanks Suburban Gal! Because so many people said they look for treats made in the USA I was actually planning on asking if there were any other countries that posters felt produced treats that were safe. 🙂
“Thanks Suburban Gal! Because so many people said they look for treats made in the USA I was actually planning on asking if there were any other countries that posters felt produced treats that were safe. 🙂 ” -Hound Dog Mom
I’d probably trust treats from other countries like Ireland and Germany as well.
One of the treats my papillon Gizmo likes is called WHIMZEES, dental and chew treats made in Holland. I trust them and highly recommend them. You can usually find them at PetCo and Pet Supplies Plus stores.
I use Whimzees, too, and my dogs like them and have done well with them. The treats I have been using most are Wellness Biscuits and Wellness Pure Rewards.
Dehydrated coconut is a tasty treat and good for them too.
I purchase from a small pet product store, don’t know if the chain stores carry them.
I am as picky about my dogs treats as their food. Although they are pricey I love Annamaet’s treats. Just as wholesome as their foods.
I agree Myra. My dogs love Annamaet’s new line of treats. I love the velcro closure on the packaging and the fact that the treats are the same formulation as the food so they aren’t just empty calories.
Here’s one for all: I cut up carrots into small pieces and Legend loves them. Crispy and nutritious. Now, cooked are more easily digested than raw, but they get too “meely” for Legend. He likes ’em raw!
HDM, I like Annamaet’s treats, too.
My puggies prefer treats that are soft and breakable to the ones that are hard and tend to make crumbs. Also, they make it easier for me to hide meds in them!
Annamaet’s treats are the EXACT same formula as their dog foods with the same name. So Manitok treats are exactly the same as Manitok dog food. Except Manitok treats are $8.99 for 10 oz making them $14.40 a pound while Manitok dog food is $17.99 for 5.5 lbs making it $3.27 a pound.
I know of a couple of dog food makers that came out with treats that are basically their dog foods in treat form. There is a huge per pound price increase in all the dog foods that have used the same formulas for their treats and I don’t know what would justify such a huge price increase.
These are meat-meal based treats as is the dog food. I hope meat-meal based treats because of the dubious quality of meat-meals are not included in your recommended treats list unless you can independently verify the quality of the meat-meals for yourselves.
- This reply was modified 5 years, 1 month ago by USA.
I was just throwing some more treats in my Chewy.com shopping cart and thought of something else that’s important to me. For my little dog, who gains weight easily; I love tiny, portion controlled treats. My favorites are Wellness Petite. Like I said before, quality ingredients and a quality manufacturer that I trust. These treats are like 2 or 3 calories each and there’s like 150 in a bag for about $3.99 (currently on sale at Chewy). It makes it super easy to control portions and keep track of calories.
I am looking for a good, hard, healthy chew treat for my small dog. Something she can chew on at the end of the day to relax and enjoy. I’m confused by the numerous products on the market and would like to know which, if any, is healthy for dogs. One that provides teeth cleaning/maintenance would be a bonus. Please help.
My pugs enjoy (consumable) tripe chews (Only Natural Pet tripe spring chews), tendon chews (Merrick flossies), and occasional bully sticks, dried trachea, Himalayan dog chews (hard yak cheese), chicken feet and pork ribs.
Other non-consumable chews they enjoy are beef ribs, cow hoof, marrow bones and my house shoes.
My veterinary dentist says that things like Himalayan dog chews are too hard for dog teeth. That is how dogs break teeth. If you can’t score it with your finger nail, it is too hard. Go to http://www.vohc.com (Veterinary Oral Health Council) for treats of appropriate hardness.
Yak cheese is too hard for dogs to chew? I guess that leaves out just about everything. I can’t score rubber squeakies with my fingernail. I better go throw out a whole bunch of toys, not to mention the goat, pork, and mutton ribs, and turkey necks that are in the freezer. Also not to mention the ice cubes and other frozen things I give my dogs.
You know what, I’m going to have to agree with aimee on this, eating is risky business.
That may be why it was reported.
Sorry, it is http://www.vohc.org. Having spent a considerable sum on a dog’s broken tooth, I listen to my veterinary dentist.
The only tooth issue like that that I have ever had was from a dog biting on chainlink fence. No amount of listening would have prevented that, but we all have to decide what we believe is best for our own dogs, so best of luck to you.
You definitely have to be aware of what type of chewing style your dog has. One of my old dogs was a golden mix with the typical soft mouth of a golden, except when it came to bones. He could crunch up the big thigh bones from cows in no time, he never broke a tooth, but I had to quite letting him have any bones because I was afraid of him breaking off a big piece and swallowing it. The dogs I have now don’t even try to bite off big chunks of something like that, they just lie down and quietly gnaw. I do feed raw, so my dogs eat bones as part of their regular meals, just not weight bearing bones of large animals.
If I were to use commercially made treats I would want them to be made in the USA and sourced in the USA. They would have to be human grade made in a human food facility that is regularly inspected by the USDA. They would need to be of limited ingredient. Organic would be best. Small in size to be used as training treats if one wanted to use them for that purpose. No grains, corn, soy, wheat, alfalfa, tomato or potato. No known high histamine ingredients. Low in calories.
I have used Vital Essentials tripe treats once in a while. So far I find that I trust Vital Essentials. I used to feed THK treats once in a while but I no longer feel comfortable with that company so I stopped using them quite a while ago.
Treats I give my girls (all teeny tiny dogs) are blueberries, carrots, string beans, coconut chips, broccoli, etc. In other words all healthy organic if I can find them fruits and veggies. Mango, all types of melon, apples, etc. I guess, basically, whatever is in my fridge. No sweet potatoes as they contain too much sugar for my liking. My girls like them all and I don’t have to worry about which manufacturer is going to have the next recall and where they really source their ingredients.
Grandma Lucy’s has organic freeze dried treats. Sometimes I use Wagatha’s.
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