How to Pick Healthy Dog Treats

How to Pick Healthy Dog Treats

Sep 28 , 2022

Craig Miller

Who doesn't love a treat? Our four-legged friends are just like us, dreaming about a tasty morsel between meals. But just like human treats, it's essential to feed dogs snacks that support their health (with a wicked bite or two thrown in from time to time).

Because treats can add substantial calories to your dog's diet, it's important to consider your dog's history, diet, and activity level to decide how many treats are safe for your furry companion. A rule of thumb is that treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog's daily calories. If you aren't sure how much that is, ask your vet.

What Is a Healthy Dog Treat?

Dogs are interested in all kinds of foods, so you can offer foods from your kitchen that you would eat. Some nutritional dog treats that might surprise you include fruit and vegetables, peanut butter, or sweet potato treats. See the list below of a few foods to avoid (the list is not exhaustive), and talk to your vet if you're unsure.

Of course, besides the odd piece of carrot, apple, or banana, there are treats made just for dogs. Some are healthier than others, so what should you look for in dog treats that are healthy?

  • Wholesome ingredients and a low calorie count. After all, wouldn't your dog like more than one?
  • Do they smell good? Your sense of smell is a bit different from your dog's, but if it smells pretty good to you, it's a safe bet your dog will like it too.
  • Try the treats on your dog. If the ingredients are healthy and your dog likes them, why not? If your dog doesn't like them, you'll know.
  • Chewability. Is the treat too hard for your dog's teeth or too soft to be entertaining?
  • Does your dog have any allergies or sensitivities? Just like with people, some dogs might not respond well to particular foods, so check the ingredients carefully in the treats you choose.

What Foods Are Toxic to Dogs?

  • Raw meat – steaks, raw hamburger patties, and chicken breasts can contain E. coli, Salmonella, or other harmful bacteria that can make your dog sick.
  • Grapes, raisins, and currants – these foods may be healthy for humans but can potentially cause kidney failure in dogs.
  • Fried or fatty foods – a belly ache may not be all your dog gets from fried and fatty foods. These foods can potentially cause pancreatitis, which is potentially life-threatening.
  • Moldy food – if you wouldn't feed it to your family, it's probably not a good idea to provide it to your dog. Watch out for trash can invaders and compost scavengers in your four-legged companions. They can easily feast on spoiled food that will make them sick.
  • Onions, garlic, and chives – avoid giving your dog foods containing alliums. That includes plants growing in your garden, onion powder, and garlic powder. They contain N-propyl disulfide, a compound that damages red blood cells in dogs.
  • Salty snacks – a potato chip or pretzel now and then won't hurt, but an entire bag could make your dog sick. If Fifi overindulges, make sure plenty of fresh water is on hand.
  • Nuts – black walnuts and macadamia nuts are particularly toxic to dogs. Some nuts are nutritionally safe, but a small nut like a pistachio or almond may pose a choking hazard.
  • Chocolate – this favorite human food is toxic to dogs. They are very slow to metabolize the methylxanthines – theobromine and caffeine – contained in chocolate.
  • Xylitol – this sugar substitute can be deadly for dogs. It is a sugar alcohol that does not spike blood sugar in humans but can cause dangerously low blood sugar in dogs.

Dog Treat FAQs

Is vegetable glycerin safe for dogs?

According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Vegetable glycerin is considered safe as a pet food preservative.

What to avoid in dog treats?

Fillers such as corn, soy, and wheat

  • Corn syrup
  • Sugar
  • Preservatives such as BHT, BHA, Ethoxyquin, potassium sorbate, and Propyl Gallate
  • Meat byproducts
  • Artificial colorants
  • Salt
  • Unnamed animal fat

What to look for in dog treats?

Named meat or meat meal

  • Healthy fats
  • Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
  • Natural preservatives such as tocopherol and rosemary extract
  • Sweet potato
  • Simple ingredients you recognize
  • Vegetables and fruits

Are dog treats good for dogs?

Treats can be healthy for your dog if you choose them with your dog's needs in mind and focus on wholesome, natural ingredients. Does Fido have sensitive teeth? Maybe choose a softer treat. Does Bruno tend to gain weight? Select a low-calorie treat. Remember the rule of thumb – no more than 10% of your dog's nutrition should come from treats.

At Pet Product Connection, we pay particular attention to the treats we offer for our four-legged customers, selecting healthy dog treat brands with the most wholesome, natural ingredients. Like you, we're pet lovers and want to see all our four-legged friends thrive to play frisbee another day! Order online, or contact us if you have any questions.