Updated: Oct 6, 2022
The trick with choosing a healthy dog treat is picking one that you can give your dog without compromising his diet. If you give a lot of treats during the day, you may need to reduce the amount of food your dog eats at meals to avoid unhealthy weight gain. In that case, you will want to make certain that your dog treat choices are also nutritionally balanced. You do not want to deprive your dog of nutrients he needs to give him treats he does not.
When trying to pick out treats for dogs' health, it is a good idea to look at the list of ingredients. Finding a healthy dog treat may sometimes seem like it involves a lot of compromise, but it does not have to. You can find natural dog food treats that are not only yummy but good for your dog's health. For instance, my dogs love apples, so a great healthy treat that can be given once or twice a week is a SEEDLESS small size apple that is crunchy and helps with their gum health.
If you are looking to save money, then making your own natural dog food treats can also be a good option. Simple food items like raw vegetables (carrots, broccoli), plain unbuttered popcorn, rice, and even egg whites are perfect options for tasty, low-calorie, and healthy treats.
Homemade dog treats don’t contain the same (or any) of the preservatives, fats and chemicals that regular store-bought treats contain. This is simply because homemade dog treats don’t have to sit in bags on store shelves for weeks at a time, so homemade treats can contain the freshest and most natural ingredients available. These healthier ingredients do better for your dog’s digestive system, and they also contribute to healthier hearts, teeth, gums and fur.
When it comes to recipes and ingredients, there is no one-size-fits-all. Dogs of different sizes, breeds and ages require different diets and nutrition, so you’ll never find something that will be perfect for every dog.
Benefits of homemade dog treats
Homemade dog treats ensure that you know exactly what you are feeding your dog. There are not hidden chemicals, no suspiciously sourced ingredients and you have total control over what goes into your dog’s body. You should still take care to find out exactly what foods should be avoided, and the best place to find that out is by asking your veterinarian!
However, there are a few common ingredients that are generally safe for dogs. Still check with your veterinarian, though, just to be safe.
Safe for Dogs
∙ Peanut butter
∙ Eggs (cooked)
∙ Salmon (cooked, boneless)
∙ Bread (plain white or whole grain)
∙ Green peas
∙ Apples (remove the seeds!)
∙ Potatoes, sweet potatoes
∙ Chicken (cooked, boneless)
∙ Store-bought mushrooms
∙ Grapes and Raisins
∙ Macadamia nuts
∙ Caffeine (coffee, tea etc.)
∙ Lemons, limes
If your dog has been eating store-bought treats its whole life, then it’s wise to introduce these fresh ingredients into their diets slowly. Keep an eye on how your dog reacts to the food, and always make sure that you’ve checked with your vet before feeding your dog anything. When it comes to fresh ingredients, it’s always best to offer the food in moderation.
HOW MANY TREATS SHOULD I GIVE TO MY DOG?
There’s no rule about how often you can dole them out, as long as you limit treats to 10% of their daily calories. Some owners choose to give one large biscuit each day, others give a handful of kibble (20-30 pieces) over the course of the day, one or two pieces at a time. Giving no treats is fine too.
In general, there are 3 types of dog treats:
∙ High-Value Rewards
High-value rewards are generally reserved for less-common instances when a dog must be strongly reinforced. For instance, a high-value reward might be used for recall in a crowded area. Examples of high-value rewards include liver and cheese.
∙ Training Treats
Training treats are smaller, less calorically dense dog treats that are intended to be used during training sessions. These treats are available in a wide variety of flavours, shapes, and sizes.
Dog biscuits are hard, dry treats are generally fed as snacks or for non-dog training purposes.
Here’s a sample of treat feeding guidelines you can use as a guide when in doubt of your dog requirements
Some Things to Watch Out For
When preparing homemade dog treats, make sure you take into account any allergies that your pet has to specific ingredients. Avoid adding any ingredient that your pet has reacted poorly to in the past. If you are experimenting with new flavours, feed the treat to your dog in small quantities and observe how he reacts to it before you distribute an entire treat.
Store homemade dog treats in an airtight container and place them in the freezer. Allow the treat to thaw for 10 to 20 minutes prior to serving your dog. Our homemade dog treats will last for up to six months in the freezer.
Does your dog have a favourite treat? We would love to see a photo of her/him enjoying it! You can post it in the comments below as well as your favourite homemade treat.