Selecting Healthy Dog Treats

Healthy dog treats are dog treats or snacks made with quality nutritious whole food ingredients.
Healthy dog treats must contain NO processed ingredients or minimal processed ingredients to be considered healthy dog treats. The expression “minimal processing” means that the ingredients or product have not fundamentally been altered. Highly processed dog treats tend to be nutritiously insufficient, have a higher chance for adulteration and contamination; plus, they contain higher calories and chemical additives.

What constitutes healthy dog treats?

healthy treats for dogs

Routinely, dog treats are made with by-product combinations of processed flours, comparative to the quantity of vitamins, minerals and other essential micro-nutrients. Even “all natural” dog treats are not immune to these dilemmas.

“All natural” ingredients are made from those items made of minimally processed animal parts and flour by-products that are not typically intended for human consumption; nevertheless, they are used in what are considered healthy dog treats. Simply because a product is labeled “healthy” and minimally processed doesn’t mean that it is made from quality ingredients. They may or may not even contain any allowable chemical additives. Misleading also are the labels of healthy dog treats that list the addition of fortification or enrichment. If a fortification or enrichment process is added, it doesn’t indicate that the product labeled healthy dog treats is in fact healthy.

Dog treat manufacturers have the ability to restore nutrient levels that were lost during processing by fortification and enrichment.

As defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Enrichment method is the restoration of some of the nutrients lost during certain forms of processing. The Fortification method is calculatingly increasing nutrients as in vitamins and minerals in foods irrespective of whether or not the nutrients were originally in the food prior to processing. As a rule, fortification is done to improve the nutritional quality of a food product with questionable nutritional quality. Indisputably misleading to consumers, manufacturers often use fortification as a selling point for foods of suspect nutritional quality. Products that state fortified with essential vitamins and minerals *as recommended by AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) notably influence consumers in believing that the healthy dog treats or dog food are indeed healthy. A dog treat that is fortified or enriched can be categorized and labeled as an “all natural” healthy dog treat.

healthy treats for dogsHow to Select Healthy Dog Treats

Generally, the same ingredients that indicate quality in human food specify quality in healthy dog treats.

  1. General Recommendations in Choosing Healthy Dog Treats
  2. Quality Nutritious Whole Food Ingredients
  3. No Listed By-Products, Additives or Chemicals
  4. No Processed Flours (0 nutritional value-high calories)
  5. No High Fats or Sugars Your Judgment on Chemical Fortification
  6. Total Caloric Consumption of Healthy Dog Treats should not exceed 15% – 20% of Daily Diet
  7. No Multiple Healthy Dog Treats – One At A Time Is Enough

Sarah Abood, DVM, PhD. assistant professor of small animal clinical sciences at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine recommends that pet owners be vigilant in choosing and feeding healthy dog treats. In feeding healthy dog treats pet owners habitually take no notice of the calories per serving or total calories consumed. Additionally, pet owners tend to give several treats at one time without considering dog health. Yet pet owners spent immense time choosing a healthy dog treat only to sabotage the wellbeing of your dog by way of quantity.

Rafaela Miett, CEO and VP of Development at Pet Bistro, specializes in organic food for dogs and says, “I have to agree with Dr. Abood of Michigan Veterinary Medicine. During our Dog Event season, the Pet Bistro Dog Restaurant opens to serve Fido fresh organic foods; it is at these events that I personally witness time and time again dog owners feed not 2 or 3 but a handful of treats at one time (or a hot dog or two) . I presume pet owners think because a treat is healthy or viewed as small that it is ok to over indulge their dogs not realizing the negative health impact it could have on Fido. For pet owners who wonder why their dog has an obesity issue; it may be related to the dog treats possibly contributing to Fido’s weight problems.

It is my recommendation that feeding one (1) healthy dog treat is plenty. Pet owners must take into consideration how many dog treats they feed on a daily basis and start adding up the calories. Assuredly, pet owners will be astonished at the caloric numbers and perhaps, as a consequence, curb their healthy dog treat enthusiasm. One (1) healthy dog treat at a time is sensible – it is a healthy dog treat, not a meal.