Dog treats can be used to teach new tricks or behaviors, sneak in a prescribed pill, help with your dog’s digestion or teeth, or just to show some love and praise. It’s essential to understand the labels and ingredients of the dog treats you are feeding your pup, so you can make informed decisions and choose the healthiest options. There are various dog treats, and you can even make your own with simple pantry ingredients! Dogs can also enjoy fresh fruits and veggies that you may already have in your kitchen. We’ll go over how to choose the proper treats for your furry friend and what to avoid.
Different Types of Dog Treats
There are several different types of dog treats, and sometimes the choices can be overwhelming. However, some of the most common and best types of treats include:
- Crunchy treats - These are sometimes called dog biscuits and come in various shapes, flavors, and sizes. They make great everyday rewards for your dog.
- Soft treats - These also come in a variety of shapes, flavors, and sizes. They are the best dog training treats due to their yummy taste and soft texture.
- Freeze-dried and jerky treats are usually available in various forms, such as liver, poultry, and seafood. You can even make your own with a food dehydrator.
- Dental chews and bone-like treats - These are the best treats for dental health because they require a lot of chewing to consume. They are not made from animal bones but include corn starch and other digestible ingredients.
Training with Dog Treats
Training with dog treats is highly effective since most dogs are motivated by food. However, it’s easy to overdo it. Help ensure your dog maintains his weight by using small treats or even pieces of treats. Small dog treats also help keep a training session moving along. Soft treats, especially peanut butter dog treats, are the best dog training treats because they’re easier and faster for your dog to eat, and they have a more pungent smell. If you notice your dog’s enthusiasm is fading, you can always switch up the dog treat or flavor to make it more exciting.
Choosing the Right Treats
When choosing the right dog treats for your dog, start with the ingredient list. Look for whole-food ingredients, locally-sourced ingredients, and easily recognizable foods, such as chicken instead of “meat meal” or “animal fat.” If a sweetener is used, it should be natural and food-based, like honey, applesauce, or molasses. It’s important to avoid artificial preservatives (BHA, BHT, and more), artificial colors, and chemical humectants (propylene glycol). If all else fails, you can make your homemade dog treats or offer your dog something from the kitchen like fresh fruits and veggies.
Homemade Dog Treats
Homemade dog treats can be an excellent option for your pup, especially if you’re looking for something allergen-friendly or if your dog is on a special diet. When making homemade dog treats, you have control of exactly what your dog’s cookie contains and can select the best quality ingredients and eliminate unnecessary fillers. It also can save you time and money while reducing food waste. Here is a super simple DIY Nutty Banana Buddies for Dogs Recipe:
- 2 Organic Bananas
- 1/2 cup All Natural Peanut Butter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Slice banana into ⅛ inch pieces, place onto a large non-stick baking sheet.
- Using a spoon or knife, cut a small hole in the middle of the banana. Ideally big enough to add small scoops of peanut butter.
- Spoon small amounts of peanut butter into each banana hole.
- Insert the pan into the oven for 15-20 minutes or until bananas are golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and serve when cool.
Healthy Human Food for Dogs
Many fruits and vegetables make healthy dog treats! They are often really convenient because many are staples you probably keep handy for your family anyway. Here are a few great options:
- Green Peas
- Green Beans
All of these snacks are loaded with healthy nutrients, like fiber and vitamin C. When trying out new treats for your dog, it’s always best to start with small portions and see how your dog responds. Foods to avoid include cheese, hot dogs, crackers, cookies, and other similar "table scraps.” Food should not contain any seasonings or sauces and never give your dog grapes, raisins, or onions.
There are a variety of healthy dog treat options, but sometimes the choices can feel overwhelming. First, decide what kind of treatment would work best for your pup and if your main goal is for training, adding health benefits, or showing praise. It is most essential to understand how to read the labels and recognize harmful ingredients.
You can also research dog treat recipes and get into making homemade biscuits and cookies, or simply feed your furry friend some fresh fruits and veggies from the kitchen. Whatever you choose, the main rule to remember is that treats should only make up about 10 percent of your dog’s food intake to ensure a healthy, well-balanced diet.