Treats are a delicious way to reward your four-legged friend and supplement their diet. But with so many different dog treat options, it can be a challenge to know which treats are good for your dog. Dog treat brands may claim their treats are organic and healthy, but how accurate are those claims?
The healthiest dog treats should have 100% natural ingredients with no additives. And dependable brands should disclose the ingredients and manufacturing process so you can determine just how healthy their treats are.
Read on to learn what factors you should consider when looking for the healthiest dog treats.
Factors to Look for in Dog Treats
Start by investigating the nutrition label of a potential dog treat to decide whether it is genuinely healthy. Ingredients should be clearly listed on the side and match any claims the brand makes of increased health benefits.
Dogs best digest and absorb nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from minimally processed whole food ingredients. Keep in mind the digestibility of a product is an essential factor in whether your dog can get the health benefits a company may claim. At Side By Side, we take pride in knowing that our ingredients are sourced from U.S. farms. We use local fresh ingredients to make sure the quality and nutrient levels are at the highest level to deliver on the health benefits to your pet.
A top priority for Side by Side is to protect the nutrient quality of our special ingredients. We freeze dry or gently cook (at low heat) our treats to preserve the natural nutrients. Our methods ensure that your pup is getting the highest level of vitamins, minerals, and proteins in the natural format allowing for better absorption and health benefits. No high level of processing, pressure or temperature with our food, EVER!
At Side by Side, we believe that whole foods make a real difference, and for this reason we never include any highly processed byproducts and meat-like powders, only whole foods in its natural format. We never use protein sources, like chicken meal, which are typically derived from 4D meats. 4D refers to meat sourced from dead, dying, diseased, or disabled animals. Everything is killed off in the extensive rendering process, including nutrients and vitamins — they serve no nutritional benefit to your dog. Only real whole foods like chicken, duck, beef, and salmon can provide the nutritional value your pup needs in a form that their body can best absorb.
Factors to Avoid in Dog Treats
For every healthy dog treat, there’s one that may include ingredients you’ll want to avoid feeding your dog. We’ll discuss a few of these ingredients below.
While some dogs may appreciate the taste of a rawhide bone, it poses a choking hazard to your furry friend. Also, please be careful and aware of mislabeling, a study found that two of ten dog chews contained rawhide despite claiming to be rawhide-free. The best course of action is to avoid rawhide-free treats and do your research on purportedly no-hide treats.
Artificial additives, chemicals, and flavors are typically an attempt to replace missing vitamins and minerals when a product does not include vitamin-rich whole food ingredients. Many dog food brands use artificial additives because they are a lower cost alternative to whole foods, but may serve little benefit to your dog. Artificial nutrients are not easily digestible, and little is known about how much of the digested additives can be used by the body. Your best bet when it comes to buying the healthiest dog treats for your four-legged friend is to look for brands that incorporate vitamins and minerals naturally without artificial elements.
Corn or Soy Meal
While corn and soy meal are approved sources of protein by AAFCO, they shouldn’t be a primary ingredient in your dog’s treats, and it’s questionable whether these ingredients are delivering nutritional benefits that your pet needs. Corn and soy meal are cheaper and have a longer shelf life than whole food ingredients, which is why they are such common ingredients found in dog treats. But, like other artificial and processed additives, these ingredients are not easily digested and could cause health complications. When it comes to the healthiest dog treats, you should search for high-quality, minimally processed, whole food ingredients.
Many animal byproducts can legally be used in food. However, with any type of animal byproduct, you should be cautious of the effects it may have on your pooch’s health. We’ve listed a few of the byproducts to be on the lookout for when purchasing your dog treats.
Keep in mind that these byproducts can also be made from 4D animals and serve no nutritional value. Keep an eye out for these red-flag byproducts when scrutinizing your dog’s treats.
How to Use Healthy Dog Treats
Selecting the healthiest dog treats for your favorite companion can be made easier if you know what you intend to use the treat for. Once you’ve decided your intended use, you can choose the best dog treat option.
High-Value Reward Treats
If your intent is to train your dog for new behaviors and advanced commands, high-value reward treats may be an excellent choice for you. These treats tend to come in longer strips or larger pieces. High-value treats should provide nutritional value like protein and natural vitamins to improve your dog’s health as you reward them for accomplishing the desired behavior. Side By Side offers treats like Wild Caught Salmon Nuggets that combine an enjoyable taste with nourishment for your dog’s skin and regulation of inflammatory responses.
Soft Chew Treats
For pet owners looking to implement small amounts of healthy dog treats into their pet’s daily diet, soft chew treats are a great option. Soft chew treats can be beneficial in rewarding daily commands such as “sit” and “stay.” They are also a high nutritional supplement to your pup’s diet. Check the label for top ingredients such as natural meat, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, and more. With Side By Side’s collection of cooling, neutral, and warming soft chew treats, you can trust that your dog is receiving natural, wholesome treats.
Supplemental Feeding vs. Low-Calorie Treating
When it comes to selecting the healthiest dog treats to add to your dog’s diet, it’s important to consider the needs of your pup. For dogs that may need to manage their weight, soft chew treats are an ideal low-calorie option with only 5–8 calories per treat. Dogs that don’t have to worry too much about their weight can enjoy the high-value reward treats on a more regular basis. Both types of treats serve as a great supplemental feeding resource to include more vitamins and minerals in your dog’s diet.
Enjoy Healthy Dog Treats with Side By Side
Now that you know what ingredients to look for when choosing the healthiest dog treats, it’s time to decide which treat is best for your dog’s needs. Our Pet Health Assessment can tell you all you need to know about the type of diet that will work best for your pup. With just the click of a mouse, you’ll have a comprehensive guide to the nutritional options your pup will need to maintain the highest level of health.