When it comes to your four-legged friend they always want a little treat to complement their diet. Treats are great for training, reward or just a little snack throughout the day. But much like our own treats as humans, they do need to be given in moderation.
Even the most healthy of dog treats become unhealthy if overfed. But if you are a conscious dog parent, looking for an answer to “what are healthy dog treats”, then perhaps our guide can help!
What is a healthy option dog treat?
In the human world, we have a pretty good idea of what foods are good, bad, healthy or not so. We understand that even the most healthy foods need to be consumed in moderation. But we do also have some healthy snack alternatives for chocolate and sweets for example. Well in the dog world, this is no exception.
Here at Laughing Dog Food, we believe that a healthy dog treat should be made with natural ingredients, with no added artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. Ideally, we’d also suggest it needs to be made with no added sugars and has sensible fat levels. You can get a full breakdown of what ingredients you should be feeding your dog on the FEDIAF website.
What dog treats are bad for dogs?
As previously mentioned, it goes without saying that if a dog is overfed, even the most healthy of foods do become unhealthy, so it is important to always be mindful of daily feeding quantities and ensure fresh drinking water is always available.
However, when selecting dog treats there are some simple rules to follow to avoid the nasties.
Cheese, all dogs LOVE cheese and a lot of dog treats are flavoured with it. However, you can buy dog treats that actually contain small amounts of cheese, which can still be classed as healthy. These are actually much more favourable for your dog than anything which contains a ‘flavouring’. Flavourings can sometimes be artificial, and lots of artificial flavourings and colours are not always a healthy option for your dog.
Frequently, to make dog treats look more appealing, colouring is added to them. Perhaps to make a ‘cheese’ based dog treat more yellow or a minty fresh dental chew more green. Sometimes these colours can be natural (our cheesy bites are naturally golden in colour!), but often in dog treats you may find added artificial colours, which can stop your chosen dog treats from being a healthy choice.
Just like humans who experience a ‘sweet tooth’ from time to time, dogs can also taste sweet, although they tend not to like salty foods. Dogs will receive small amounts of naturally occurring sugars from fruit and vegetables in their diet, but added sugar and salt in a dog treat is not ideal – and as with anything, too much of it can lead to upset stomachs.
What dog treats should I be feeding my dog?
There is no right or wrong answer to what treats you should be feeding your dog, but luckily the market is so broad that you don’t need to narrow down your options. However, if you are seeking a healthy dog treat then given that you’re already avoiding added artificial additives, flavourings, preservatives and sugars, here is what else you need to look out for:
Special diet dog treats
Much like dog food, you can in fact opt for special diet dog treats including grain free dog treats and wheat free dog treats. These options, generally speaking are made from less ingredients with the purpose of being less likely to trigger a reaction or intolerance to the product. Therefore they are frequently a healthier dog treat option.
Limited ingredient dog treats
As with dog food, you can also purchase limited ingredients dog treats; these are typically hypoallergenic and therefore the ingredients have been carefully chosen to be more gentle and less likely to cause any form of reaction. Even if your dog isn’t intolerant to anything, seeking limited ingredient dog treats is still a plus in our eyes.
They are often made up of simple but naturally wholesome ingredients like oats, rice and barley with various fruits and vegetables and herbs added for taste.
Homemade dog treats
There are hundreds of options for making your own healthy dog treats at home and it is often a preferred option, as paw parents will always know what ingredients are going into the composition. Anything from frozen banana to apple slices and peanut butter bites (make sure you use dog-friendly peanut butter) are sure to go down an absolute treat (mind the pun!)
But for busy dog owners it isn’t always a feasible option to be making your own, and that is frequently saved for special occasions. Homemade fresh and healthy dog treats also don’t last long, so it does involve high levels of maintenance to ensure you’re always well stocked. If you’d like some ideas for homemade dog treat recipes, head to our Laughing Dog blog.
In those situations, dog parents will often turn to healthy pre-purchased options to ensure there is always a treat to hand whenever their waggy tailed friend needs one!
Dog treat comparison: how to select the healthiest option
Here at Laughing Dog our priority is to the health and wellbeing of all four-legged friends, both ours and yours. That is why we are so passionate about the ingredients which go into our dog food and dog treats.
We aim to provide you with the more healthy dog treat option and to help we have compared two of our best selling products against some big name brands and their ingredient’s lists.
First up, is dental chews.
This is the composition of the ingredients for a leading dog food brand, advertising their dental treats to be “healthy”.
Cereals, Derivatives of Vegetable Origin (including 0.2% Decaffeinated Green Tea Extract and 0.03% Eucalyptus Oil), Minerals (including 2.3% Sodium Tripolyphosphate), Meat and Animal Derivatives, Oils and Fats
Analytical constituents (%): Proteins: 7.7, Fat content: 1.3, Inorganic matter: 5.4, Crude fibres: 0.7, Moisture: 16.2, Energy: 308 kcal/100g, Colourants
Nutritional additives: Vitamin E: 1365 mg, Zinc sulphate heptahydrate: 830 mg, Sensory additives: Chicken flavour: 36.3 mg
We have highlighted ingredients that we would always encourage you to look out for.
Your more healthy dog treat alternative here is Laughing Dog’s Teeth and Gums dental treats which contain only the following ingredients:
Sweet Potato Flour, Potato Starch, Chicken Meal, Linseed, Poultry Fat, Cellulose Fibre (1.5%), Chicken Gravy, Mint (0.25%), Chicory, Citrus Extract (0.15%), Parsley (0.05%), Couch Grass, Seaweed, Nettle.
Everyone’s favourite and a difficult one to call ‘healthy’, but there is always a healthier alternative to be aware of.
Here is in ingredient composition from a leading UK pet store for their cheese-based dog treats:
Cereals, various sugars, minerals, oils and fats, derivatives of vegetable origin, cheese flavouring.
Additives: Colourants. Crude Protein 6.5%, Inorganic Matter 6.5%, Fat Content 6.0%, Crude Fibre 0.5%.
Or you could choose Laughing Dog’s Cheesy Bites, which are naturally wheat free and contain no added sugar:
Maize Flour, Barley Flour (20%), Oats (20%), Potato Starch, Cheese Powder (4%)*, Rapeseed Oil, Broccoli Powder (1%)**. *Equivalent to 6% Fresh Cheese. **Equivalent to 7% Fresh Broccoli.
Whatever it is that you choose to feed your dog always be mindful of their health. Even small doses of sugars or artificial additives can cause upset tummies. So to keep your four-legged friend’s tail waggy, nose wet and eyes glowing we would always recommend to look out for healthier options!