Whether you are training your doggie, playing with it, or simply want to cuddle up with it, a doggie treat is always a great tool to make your pooch feel appreciated and loved while also learning to associate what it has done to something that is pleasant, positive, and very rewarding. After all, they don’t call it positive reinforcement for nothing. Giving our dogs treats not only has significant impact on their behavior and their relationship with us. It can also help in the promotion of optimum dental health. And if you’re ready to find out what the 15 best dog treats in the market today are, then hold onto your seats as we’re laying them all out for you.
Dog Treat Buying Guide
Buying a doggie treat should not really be difficult. While we already shared with you 15 of the best dog treats today, you can still look for a more appropriate one for your mutt. Here are some tips to picking the best treat for your pooch.
- Always go for products that are manufactured in reputable countries. It is also important to look at the reputation of the company producing it. So, given a US-made and a Chinese-manufactured product, you’ll be better off with a US-made doggie treat.
- Check the nutrient content and make sure that there are no added artificial ingredients in it. Also determine if the preparation carries the right proportions of protein, carbs, and fats and even moisture. Most of these preparations will be in dry form so if you’ve got a pooch that rarely drinks, you might want a product that has significantly higher moisture.
- As for the presence or absence of gluten and other grains, science has shown that these are actually no more allergenic than chicken and beef. So, if you’re worried about allergenic grains, then make sure you stay away from chicken and beef, too.
- Consider the calories of the product. This is very important since you will be making sure that the amount of treats you give will not comprise more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily calories. Otherwise, you risk your dog developing obesity and diabetes.
- Choose the type of treat that your mutt will enjoy. Some come in the form of dry kibbles while others are styled like cookies or biscuits. Some also come as meaty treats or jerkies.
What to Consider When Buying Treats for My Dog
When it comes to purchasing doggie delicacies, it is imperative that you have a very clear understanding of what you are looking for. Many times, pet owners buy products for their pooches only to feel sorry afterwards simply because the product they bought is not really right for their doggies. To help you avoid making the same mistake, here are some things that you really have to consider whenever you’re out choosing and buying treats for your pooch.
- Objective or purpose for giving the treat
The reason for giving a delicacy or a snack to your pooch is also a very important consideration. Understand that there are several types of treats and these can vary depending on their purpose alone.
If you need a canine delicacy specifically for positive reinforcement such as during obedience training or behavioral training, then you may have to get smaller sized bits that are truly flavorful. What you want your mutt to learn is to associate the desirable behavior or the performance of a desired action with something that is pleasurable. If the snack is not palatable or delicious, how can you expect mutts to perform the desired action over and over when what they learn is to associate the doing of the action with something not really delicious? As such, you have to make sure that it really is a “treat”.
If your purpose is to provide supplementation as part of the treatment or management of a particular health condition, for example, hip dysplasia or arthritis, then it is important that you choose something that has more specific ingredients that are specially formulated for the relief of symptoms associated with these conditions. You can look at these more like nutrient or food supplements that need to be taken in measured doses as specified by the manufacturer.
If you want to promote optimum oral and dental health for your mutt, freshen up its breath, prevent the buildup of tartar or plaque, and lower the risk of developing gum diseases, then your choice of a canine treat should be one that is designed specifically for such a purpose. You can look at these as dog chews, but in essence, they are still considered as treats.
These are just three of the more common reasons why you may want to give a treat to your pooch. One of these may be your goal for providing them such products or it may be different altogether. The point is to always consider the purpose of you giving your canine friend such a product.
- Size of the treat
This should already be a given. The size of the treat should be commensurate to the size of your mutt’s oral cavity. The good thing is that manufacturers often provide different sizes for a particular preparation so that every life stage is covered. If you have a puppy or a small breed, for example, you’re supposed to get something that is small, too. The same is true if you have a large breed. You will need something that is sufficiently larger to allow them to enjoy the delicacy.
- Texture of the doggie delicacy
It is also important to look at the texture of the canine delicacy you’re buying. If you’re buying for a puppy, know that their jaws and teeth are not yet that fully developed and as such won’t really benefit from hard and crunchy bits. What they will need are those that are quite soft and chewy. The chewiness will serve like a toy for them. Senior pooches can also benefit from softer treats especially if they no longer have some of their teeth. On the other hand, larger breeds of dogs as well as adult pooches can do well with crunchy ones.
Be sure to also read our guide on the best chew toys for puppies.
- Nutritional content
It goes without saying that the nutrients contained in these products should be commensurate to the nutritional requirements of the breed, size, and age of the pooch. While treats should not constitute more than 10 percent of your mutt’s average daily calorie intake, it is still important to look at the nutrient content of these products.
Again, puppies and senior dogs will require more protein in their delicacies, unless of course the senior dog already has a kidney problem in which a high protein diet is a no-no. Puppies will also require plenty of DHA for brain development while adults and seniors will benefit more from EPA for its anti-inflammatory properties. Carbs should always be minimized and so are fats. Of critical importance is the presence of vitamins and minerals that can help promote more optimum health.
Should I Give My Dog Treats?
Most newcomers to the world of dog ownership often ask about the need to give their pooches a treat. There are actually a variety of reasons why you should give your Fido a treat. We have already covered some of these in the preceding section.
These edible tools are an important part of behavioral training in dogs. They form the reward component in positive reinforcement activities. For example, you are training your mutt to come to you once you call out its name. At first, the treat is used as bait or as a motivator for your mutt to come to you. You can show your open hand with a treat on it so it will be enticed to come to you as you also elicit a verbal or sound cue. Step by step you will be training your pooch to come to you until such time that it learns to associate the sound of a call to the presence of a treat. Eventually, it will already be almost instinctual for it to come to you once you call its name. More than this, however, treats can also stimulate physical activity while also adding variety to their nutrient intake. This can play an important role in their overall development.
As we have already mentioned above, treats can also be used as a more appealing method of addressing their health concerns or even of promoting optimal health and preventing diseases. All of these can be accomplished using these edible materials.
How Often Can I Treat?
There is a rule in the canine world which states that snacks and treats should never constitute more than 10 percent of a mutt’s average caloric intake. For example, if the caloric requirement of a pooch is about 500 calories, then 10% of this is only 50 calories. Knowing that a gram of carbs and proteins is equivalent to 4 calories each and that a gram of fat is worth 9 calories, you can then make the adjustments as to how often you should give your pooch a treat.
Here’s a tip. Always provide the treat in between your dog’s meals. So if your mutt is feeding three times a day at about 165 to 170 calories per feeding, then you can perhaps provide 25 calories worth of treats in between the first and second feeding and between the 2nd and third feeding.
Which Treats Work Best for Training?
Technically, your choices of treats for training purposes is not limited to commercially available products like the ones we have presented here. It can actually be human foods that are considered safe for dogs such as lean chicken breast, turkey, de-seeded apples, or even fresh pineapples. Some would actually recommend cheese sticks as well as hotdogs cut into smaller pieces. If you’re not confident about giving them your food, then you might want to use their ordinary dry kibble. Wet dog food works best as these are often more palatable and delicious than dry kibbles.
Do Treats Promote Dental Health?
Some treats can promote dental health especially those that come with nubs or ridges. These help remove tartar or even plaque that may already have begun building in between the gums and teeth. Fruits used as treats can be quite tricky especially those that contain a lot of Vitamin C as these can be too acidic for your pooch’s teeth. As such, if you do decide to give your mutt fruits, then give only in moderation.
My Dog is on a Weight Loss Plan, What Treats Shall I Give it?
If your canine friend happens to be obese and is currently on a weight loss program, it is important to use low calorie treats. This is where fruits and veggies can be really beneficial as these are packed with nutrients yet are low in calories. There are also commercially prepared treats that contain low carbs and low fat. Why low fat? This macronutrient actually packs 9 calories for every gram of it. It is like giving more than 2 grams of either carbs or proteins.
Doggie treats are considered an important component in canine behavioral training where desirable behaviors are rewarded and positively reinforced so that pooches will keep on repeating the desirable action. These can be useful, too, in assisting them achieve their optimum wellness through increased physical activity and the chance to improve their emotional and social well-being.
However, it is important to recognize that doggie treats should not be viewed as a replacement for a dog’s regular meals. As such, knowing how often and how much you should give to your canine friend as a delicacy is very important. Equally significant is knowing which types of treats will work best with your dog. It is only through adequate knowledge of these things will you be able to fully utilize the many amazing benefits of doggie treats.