Anyone shopping for dog treats at their neighbourhood pet store or online could easily come away with five or ten completely different products. But which ones are best, and how do they differ from one another? Let’s take a closer look.
Baked treats emcompass a wide category of goodies cooked by dry heat. Flour is typically a primary ingredient in baked treats, and while you’ve probably been told to avoid this ingredient, there are many alternative flours that are good for your pup in moderation. Quinoa, oat, buckwheat, and chickpea flours, for instance, are healthier than the traditional white wheat variety.
Baking your own dog treats is a good way to ensure they contain only the healthiest ingredients. Visit canadiandogs.com/homemade-dog-treats for a recipe your pup will love!
Special occasion treats
These whimsical and creative treats come in a wide array of colours, shapes and sizes, and often feature different decorations. Perfect for special occasions such as birthdays and Valentine’s, these traditional baked treats are typically made from some combination of flour, egg, salt, sugar, and colouring, and often contain added flavours and preservatives, though you may be able to find healthier varieties with natural colouring or cream cheese frosting. They have very little nutritional value, but boy, are they fun!
A chew treat gives your dog something to chew instead of your expensive furniture, rugs, doors, walls, and shoes. Common digestible or semi-digestible representatives of this group include rawhides and bully sticks, or raw or smoked marrow bones. This type of treat is designed for longer-lasting enjoyment, and is ideal for dogs who like to keep busy. Look for natural products that don’t undergo chemical processing, and be sure to consider your dog’s size and chew personality before buying!
Dehydrated and freeze-dried treats
Exceptionally clean and nutritious, dehydrated and freeze-dried treats have a variety of physical makeups depending on the drying method used. If freeze-dried, they are small, dry and crumbly. Dehydrating tends to produce treats that are crunchy or chewy. Both varieties are commonly made using whole meat or vegetables, and are often labelled as “single-ingredient” treats. They come in many sizes – strips, cubes, etc. – and are highly palatable. The most common meats used in this category include fish meat and skins, chicken, beef, and occasionally pork. Commonly used fruits and vegetables are sweet potatoes and apples.
Treats that contain some sort of added medicinal ingredient have become increasingly popular in recent years. The most common medicinal treats are those with added glucosamine – a supplement that helps combat pain and swelling in joints. Similarly, treats infused with cannabidiol (CBD) are used to combat stress and anxiety in our canine companions. All medicinal treats should be used in conjunction with an overall treatment plan. Talk to your vet and follow package directions.
Most dog treats can be used for training, but some are better than others. Treats sold for training purposes are usually small, low-cal options that are “pocket-safe”, but if your dog’s favourite snack happens to be bigger, try breaking it up into little pieces. Dehydrated, single-ingredient treats are a good go-to – just make sure your dog loves them. The more motivated he is, the faster he’ll learn!
Susan Dalton, PhD, CCPD is the founder and chief innovation officer of Dr. Dalton’s Premium Treats. As a child in Florida, she lived with many animals, including rats, gerbils, birds, fish, a variety of reptiles, and many dogs. In her adult years, she rescued an extremely aggressive Border Collie puppy that her son named Cassie. Through her work with Cassie, Susan returned to the world of animals and became deeply involved in their health and welfare.