Many pet food manufacturers advertise their dog treats as natural, despite not meeting the exacting standards of the FEDIAF labelling guides. Natural dog treats, would technically speaking, be human foods that have undergone no processing. For example, banana, apple or carrots. These natural fruits and vegetables are the only treats that could really be deemed as natural dog treats.
However, we take pride in ensuring our dog treats still meet our Laughing Dog ‘natural’ standards…
What is the most natural 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 contain small amounts of cheese, which can still be classed as healthy. These are 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 greener. 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 are made from fewer 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!