HOW TO CHOOSE DOG TREATS

Everyone has different considerations when choosing a dog treat for their dog. Should you focus on the flavor? Caloric content? Texture? Ingredients? Choosing the right one starts by reading the label, not by the brand name. 

Treats have different regulations than dog food

The first thing you need to know about dog treats is that there are different regulations around treats. Since dog treats are intended to be given occasionally and comprise less than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake, they are exempt from needing to include an AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement (remember: this is the statement that shows a food is complete and balanced). Dog snacks and treats still need to meet FDA and state regulations for labeling of pet foods. Biscuits are not exempt from including the adequacy statement, unless they are clearly labeled with the word “snack” or “treat” on the front. This makes it hard to choose the right treats. Regardless, some treats and biscuits are formulated to be nutritionally complete so if you tend to give your dog lots of treats, opt for one that meets AAFCO guidelines.


Additionally, chews, bones, toys, whether flavor-coated or unflavored, are exempt from registration and labeling, unless they claim their product is intended as animal food or provides nutritional value to the dog (e.g., high protein claims). This includes, hooves, ears, animal bones, ligaments, etc. Since they don’t have to be labeled, they don’t usually undergo a guarantee analysis and thus composition and caloric value are not included. These tend to be high-calorie items so use them sparingly. 


Start by narrowing down the category you are looking for. This will make it easier for you to sort through the different brands and options that meet your needs. 


  • Dental treats
  • High-quality protein sources (think: freeze dried raw treats or jerky)
  • Biscuits
  • Snacks/ Treats
  • Chews/ Bones
  • Training treats


Then, you guessed it, read the label. 


Avoid

  • Avoid treats that contain low quality ingredients, mainly meat by-products and fillers. These will show up as meat meal, corn, or wheat on a food label
  • Avoid artificial colors, sugar, artificial flavors, and preservatives
  • Human treats other than fruits and vegetables. Human snacks will have too much salt and sugar


Look For

  • Treats labeled as “complete and balanced”
  • Look for these desirable ingredients: whole meats or fish, fruits, and vegetables
  • Single ingredient treats. Freeze-dried raw meat treats are some of the healthiest around


If you’re looking for organic treats…
Grandma Lucy's Organic Pumpkin Oven Baked Dog Treats
  • All flavors made with 5 human-grade ingredients or less
  • 100 percent USDA organic and GMO-free
  • Free from gluten, wheat, and grain and do not contain GMOs, BHA, BHT, preservatives, artificial colorings, or artificial anything
  • Portland Pet Food Company donates 5% of their net profits to local non-profit animal shelters and programs, so you can feel good about every part of your purchase


If you’re splurging (barkday anyone??)...

Wild Eats Salmon Skin Dog Treats
  • Single ingredient treat, only contains wild caught Salmon!
  • No fillers, added hormones and are antibiotic free, rawhide free dog chews
  • The fish is hand-cut and may have white skin or scales on it. Each bag comes vacuum sealed
  • Contains no wheat, corn, soy, salt or sugar


If you’re looking for single ingredient treats…

Stewart Freeze Dried Dog Treats
  • Only uses USDA-certified, human grade meat
  • They offer beef, chicken, beef, turkey and lamb liver which are not common in single ingredient treats
  • Dog treats are grain free, gluten free, soy free, and corn free with no preservatives, artificial colors, or flavors
  • They are smelly - which makes them perfect for picky eaters!
  • Packed in a resealable tub to preserve the taste 


If you are looking for a vegetarian option or a training treat…

Wholesome Pride Fruit & Vegetable Dog Treats
  • Single ingredient
  • Comes in sweet potatoes, apple slices, pumpkin and banana
  • No artificial ingredients or preservatives
  • Only 7kcal/treat making them perfect for training!


If your dog is the ultimate cheese lover…

Purebites Cheddar Cheese For Dogs
  • Freeze dried raw to lock in the aroma, texture and freshness
  • Single ingredient, cheddar cheese!
  • Sourced and made in the USA