Dog food manufacturers are not held to the same standards as those who make human food. Unfortunately, that means you could be feeding your dog some pretty bad stuff without knowing it. A lot of packaging can be misleading, and it could take a little detective work to find out which brand actually has the healthiest puppy treats.
The good news is that we’ve done that work for you, and in a minute we’ll give you some recommendations for healthy treats your puppy will be head over heels for. First though, let’s discuss what exactly makes a dog treat “healthy” and some potential red flags to be cautious of when you begin doing your shopping.
What makes a puppy treat unhealthy?
When searching for healthier options for your puppy, the most important thing is typically to avoid fillers. Most of the time cheaper treats will be filled with flour or corn and very little else. These treats are usually not only fatty, but they also offer your dog very little in the way of nutrition. Just because something is a treat, it doesn’t mean that it can’t be beneficial. There are plenty of other options out there that aren’t quite so horrible. Here’s what to avoid.
- Corn syrup
Belive it or not, these are common dog treat ingredients, and if you look at the label on most of the suff you’ll find at your local super market, almost all of them will look like this. These are not great ingredients for your dog, and in some cases, animals could have food allergies to these components.
What should you feed your puppy instead?
The first step of course is to look for a higher quality brand. These treats will be more expensive than cheap dog biscuits, but in the long run it will make your puppy much healthier. Take a moment to scrutinize the ingredients, and toss out anything that has the offenders we talked about in the last section. These are unnecessary, and you can buy treats without any of these items in them!
Instead, look for whole meat ingredients like beef, duck or turkey that provide real benefits to your dog. Many treats will also contain fruits and veggies, and some of these can be quite healthy! Some prime examples include pumpkin, sweet potatoes, bananas, and carrots. The idea is that a good manufacturer will replace a low value grain such as wheat or corn with a higher value alternative that offers greater nutritional benefits.
Dogs are of course perfectly fine with treats that are strictly composed of meat, and the less ingredients used, the less chance there is for your dog to have an allergic reaction to his food. Now that that’s out of the way, here’s our picks for the healthiest puppy treats!
Best treats for puppies: Light Duty Chews
Satisfy your pups need to chew and reward him at the same time with these awesome bully sticks. This manufacturer makes all of their treats in the USA, and they use only the highest quality ingredients to do so. These chews are all natural and dogs just love them.
Utilizing a chew type of “treat” such as this not only gives your dog a healthy means to satisfy his chewing need outside of your stuff, but it also can help with anxiety or boredom. When you’re away your dog will be able to entertain himself with this instead of being destructive.
Best treats for puppies: Heavy Duty Chews
Okay, so what if your dog is a heavy duty chewer? Like, he will devour entire furniture pieces within the hour type of chewer? Well, there’s some pretty good options for you as well. It’s clear that bully sticks are not up to the task, so it’s time to upgrade.
Instead of jerky sticks, try going for natural bone treats. These babies will provide hours of entertainment to your dog, and since these voracious chewers often resort to this behavior due to stress or boredom, it’ll give them something to do besides destroy your stuff while you’re away.
Dogs of most sizes will be able to enjoy these tasty, one ingredient marrow bones unless they are toy breeds. If that’s the case, then the company also has some mini chews available!
Have a bigger pup who is a chewing fiend? These all natural “mammoth size” cow bones will satisfy his cravings, and it’ll take him a long time to finish it off. Great for high energy large breeds!
Best treats for puppies: Training
A chew doesn’t always fit the situation though. Puppies need to be trained, and in most cases that requires the use of training treats. A training treat should be a very small snack reward, just something small to make your puppy excited about learning your commands.
Again, it’s best to avoid any kind of fillers such as wheat or corn, and a full meat product is the way to go here. Limited ingredient treats also have the added benefit of being great for dogs who could potentially have allergies. Here’s our top pick for training treats!
NaturalRapport makes some of the healthiest dog treats available. That’s because these treats use only one ingredient. They come in two flavors, beef liver or chicken, and they are 100% freeze dried meat. There are no fillers, preservatives or other junk in here, and your dog will love them.
What makes these so great?
The reason that Natural Rapport’s treats are so great is that they are 100% meat. There’s no grain, wheat, soy, artificial stuff or anything else in here that could be bad for your dog. Each bag contains about 300 treats (equivalent to about 3 lbs. of non-dehydrated meat), and they are made in the USA. If you’re not sure which flavor to go with, liver is probably your best bet. While many humans find organ meats gross, dogs think they’re super tasty, and presenting one of these to your puppy will get his attention fast when you’re trying to train him. That makes this brand one of the best treats for puppies that you can buy.