The 8 Best Healthy Dog Treats of 2021

Reward your pup with a delicious, nutritious snack

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Best Healthy Dog Treats

The Spruce

Our Top Picks
These bite-size treats contain just 3 calories each, and they're made with wholesome ingredients that will appeal to your pooch.
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These affordable treats are marketed toward puppies, but they can be given to adult dogs, as well.
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Dogs will devour these freeze-dried chicken pieces, but they do cost more than your average treats.
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With less than 2 calories per treat, these salmon-flavored bites are ideal for training or overweight dogs.
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Chicken is the main ingredient in these soft, bite-sized treats for small breed dogs.
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Best for Large Dogs:
Blue Buffalo BLUE Bits at Chewy
The heart-shaped treats are big enough to satisfy larger dogs, but they still contain just 4 calories each.
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The soft texture of these treats makes them easy for older dogs to chew.
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Give your dog one of these chews a few times a week to control plaque and tartar buildup on their teeth.
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We all want what’s best for our dogs, but with so many products available, it can be hard to find healthy treats to feed your four-legged friends. 

“A healthy dog treat can be tricky to determine based on labeling and packaging claims,” explains Dr. Joel Navratik, DVM, CEO of MRVL Pet Pharmaceuticals. “The first thing I always recommend is to make sure that the product was made in the USA. I usually recommend going with a trusted brand.” You’ll also want to consider factors such as the ingredients used and the calories per treat. 

The following are the best healthy dog treats to give your pooch.

Best Overall: Pet Botanics Training Rewards Bacon Flavor Dog Treats

Treat Type: Soft | Lifestage: All | Breed Size: Varies | Calories Per Treat: 3 | Treats Per Package: 500

What We Like
  • Available in several flavors

  • Hundreds of treats in every bag

  • Made with recognizable ingredients

  • Made in the USA

What We Don't Like
  • None that we could find

Pet Bontanics Training Rewards are a popular choice for dogs of all sizes, as the soft, bite-sized treats contain just 3 calories each. They come in several flavors, including bacon, salmon, chicken, and beef, and they’re also a great value with around 500 treats in every bag. 

These training treats are made in the USA, and the main ingredient in them is real pork liver. They’re made with a special blend of botanical ingredients to benefit your dog, and they’re free from BHA, BHT, soy, and ethoxyquin. The small size and soft texture is ideal for training, but we’re betting your dog will happily accept them as an everyday treat, as well.

Best Budget: Purina Puppy Chow Healthy Start Salmon Flavor Training Dog Treats

Puppy Chow Healthy Start Salmon Flavor Training Dog Treats

Treat Type: Hard | Lifestage: All | Breed Size: Varies | Calories Per Treat: 3 | Treats Per Package: Not listed

What We Like
  • Affordable cost

  • Able to be broken into smaller pieces

  • Made in the USA

What We Don't Like
  • Some preservatives and fillers

  • Not the most appealing to all dogs

Dog treats can be surprisingly pricey, and if you go through them quickly, you’re probably looking to buy in bulk. The Puppy Chow Healthy Start Salmon Dog Treats are a great value, typically costing under $10 for a 24-ounce bag, and while they are marketed as puppy treats, there’s no reason you couldn’t give them to your adult dog as well. 

These treats have salmon as the main ingredient, and they contain DHA, which helps to boost your dog’s skin and coat. Each treat is just 3 calories, making them useful for training, and the small size is great for all dog breeds—you can even break them into smaller pieces, if needed. 

Best Splurge: PureBites Chicken Breast Freeze-Dried Dog Treats

PureBites Chicken Breast Freeze-Dried Dog Treats

Treat Type: Freeze-dried | Lifestage: All | Breed Size: All | Calories Per Treat: 3 | Treats Per Package: 58-730

What We Like
  • Only one ingredient

  • No fillers or preservatives

  • Made in the USA

  • Good for dogs with sensitive stomachs

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

If you want nothing but the best for your pup and are willing to spare no expense to get it, you’ll definitely want to consider PureBites Chicken Breast Freeze-Dried Dog Treats. While certainly not cheap, these freeze-dried treats are made with just one ingredient: chicken breast. There are no preservatives, additives, or fillers, and of course, they’re sure to be a hit with your pooch, as they’re made from real chicken!

These freeze-dried treats are sourced and made in the USA, and there are just 3 calories per treat. The original ingredients are freeze-dried to remove water while preserving the nutritional value of the meat, and the treats are ideal for dogs with sensitive stomach or allergies.

Best Low Calorie: Eukanuba ACTIVTrainer Dog Treats

Eukanuba ACTIVTrainer Dog Treats

Treat Type: Soft | Lifestage: All | Breed Size: Varies | Calories Per Treat: Less than 2 | Treats Per Package: Not listed

What We Like
  • Extremely low calorie

  • Formulated by nutritionists

  • Appropriate for puppies and adults

What We Don't Like
  • Some preservatives and fillers

Looking for a low-calorie treat to help your dog lose weight? The Eukanuba ACTIVTrainer Dog Treats are one of the lowest calorie options you’ll find, containing less than 2 calories per treat. These salmon-flavored treats were formulated with nutritionists to ensure your dog’s health comes first, and they’re ideal for both puppies and adult dogs. 

Salmon is the first ingredient in these low-calorie treats (there’s a chicken flavor available, as well), and they contain DHA for healthy brain function and a healthy coat. The bite-sized form makes them easy for dogs to eat, and because they contain so few calories, you can use them while doing repetitive training with your pooch. They're soft, but don't crumble too much or leave grease on your fingers.

Best for Small Dogs: Bil-Jac Little Jacs Small Dog Training Treats

Bil-Jac Little Jacs Small Dog Training Treats

Treat Type: Soft | Lifestage: All | Breed Size: Varies | Calories Per Treat: 2.8 | Treats Per Package: 300+

What We Like
  • Appropriate size for small dogs

  • Dog-approved smell and taste

  • Short ingredient list

  • Made in USA

What We Don't Like
  • Crumble easily

Your small dog will surely go crazy for these training treats from Bil-Jac. The soft treats have an irresistible aroma thanks to having chicken liver and chicken as the first two ingredients, yet they have less than 3 calories a piece, ensuring you don’t accidentally overfeed your small pooch. 

The Bil-Jac Little Jacs Treats are made in the USA, and they don’t contain any gluten meals, soy, or added rendered fat. They’re available in several package sizes, including 4, 10, and 16 ounces, and all the bags have a double-zipper top that keeps the taste and texture fresh.

Best for Large Dogs: Blue Buffalo BLUE Bits Natural Soft-Moist Training Dog Treats

Blue Buffalo Bits Tasty Chicken Recipe Soft-Moist Dog Treats

Treat Type: Soft | Lifestage: All | Breed Size: Varies | Calories Per Treat: 4 | Treats Per Package: Not listed

What We Like
  • Available in several flavors

  • Free from artificial preservatives and flavors

  • Easily broken in half

  • Made in the USA

What We Don't Like
  • None that we could find

If you have a large breed dog, you might be looking for a treat that’s a bit more substantial—but still healthy. One of the best options for larger dogs is the Blue Buffalo BLUE Bits Treats, which come in several flavors and are free from artificial preservatives and flavors. 

These treats are shaped like bite-sized hearts, and their soft texture allows them to be broken into smaller pieces, if needed. Real chicken is the first ingredient, and the treats also contain wholesome brown rice, oatmeal, and flaxseed to support healthy digestion. The BLUE Bits treats don’t contain any corn, wheat, soy, or meat by-products, but they do have added DHA and omega fatty acids to boost your dog’s skin and coat.

Best for Senior Dogs: Wellness Soft Wellbites Soft & Chewy Dog Treats

Wellness Soft Wellbites Soft & Chewy Dog Treats

Treat Type: Chewy | Lifestage: All | Breed Size: Varies | Calories Per Treat: 8 | Treats Per Package: 35

What We Like
  • Easy to break into pieces

  • Soft enough for senior dogs

  • Free from many fillers and artificial flavors

  • Made in the USA

What We Don't Like
  • Higher in calories

As dogs get older, they’ll need softer treats that they can easily chew, and the Wellness Soft Wellbites Soft & Chewy Dog Treats fit the bill. These USA-made treats are soft and savory, and they’re free from grains, by-products, corn, soy, gluten, and artificial flavors and colors, making them ideal for dogs with sensitive stomachs. 

These chewy treats are on the larger side, containing 8 calories each, but you can easily break them into smaller pieces for your dog, if needed. They’re made from wholesome and recognizable ingredients, and dogs are sure to love the lamb and salmon flavor. Some of the other Wellness WellBites treat flavors have slightly more calories per treat.

Best Dental Treats: Virbac C.E.T. VeggieDent Fr3sh Tartar Control Dog Chews

Virbac

Treat Type: Plant-based chewy | Lifestage: All | Breed Size: Medium | Calories Per Treat: 48 (medium) | Treats Per Package: 30

What We Like
  • VOHC approved

  • Helps reduce plaque and tartar

  • Freshens breath

What We Don't Like
  • High in calories

  • Unclear if they're made in USA

Dental care is important for dogs of all ages, and the Virbac C.E.T. VeggieDent Fr3sh Dog Chews are a great way to control tartar on your dog’s teeth. These dental chews are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), and their unique shape and consistency helps to freshen breath and reduce plaque and tartar. 

As their name suggests, the VeggieDent chews are made without any animal-based ingredients, yet they’re still appealing for dogs to chew on. They can be given a few times a week to help keep your dog’s teeth clean, but be sure to take into account their high calories and adjust your dog’s food accordingly. There are also several sizes of these treats available, so pick the one that correlates best to your dog's size.

Final Verdict

No matter your dog’s age or size, the Pet Bontanics Training Rewards (view at Amazon) are a healthy treat that you can feel good about giving them. Each treat contains just 3 calories, and the formula contains wholesome, recognizable ingredients such as pork liver, pea flour, and potatoes.

If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can’t go wrong with the PureBites Chicken Breast Freeze-Dried Dog Treats (view at Amazon), which are made with just one ingredient: real chicken breast.

What to Look for in Healthy Dog Treats

Brand 

When selecting treats for your dog, it’s always a good idea to buy from a well-established and trusted brand. “[Brands such as] Science Diet, Proplan, Eukanub, and Royal Canin screen for the contaminants and microbes that can be harmful to your pet,” explains Dr. Navratik. “The major labels do quality control testing for bacterial and fungal contaminants that do have real potential for harm in your pet.”

He also recommends Nutros, Zukes, Wellness, Blue Buffalo, Merrick’s, Pet Botanics, Natural Balance, and Bill Jac. 

Ingredients

“When choosing kibble or treats, avoid chemicals,” advises Veterinarian Rolan Tripp, DVM, CABC, and founder of PetHappiness. “Just like people, dogs feel better, are healthier, and live longer when given quality nutrition.” You’ll want to look for treats with recognizable whole food ingredients, like meat, fruits, and vegetables, and you’ll also want to avoid artificial dyes—things like Blue 2, Red 40, or Yellow 5.  

Calories 

You’ll want to look at the number of calories per treat, especially if you give your dog a lot of treats or if your dog is trying to lose or maintain weight. “I usually suggest using training-sized treats because they will contain a small number of calories,” says Dr. Navratik. 

Texture

“Chewy treats are best for training because chewing hard treats stops the training process,” says Dr. Tripp. They're especially important when you’re training a puppy who may not have all its adult teeth yet.

On the other hand, if you want a treat that’s going to occupy your dog’s attention for a little longer, you may want something that takes more time to chew. 

FAQs

Are freeze-dried dog treats healthy?

Freeze-dried dog treats are a healthy option for your pet. These treats are made by removing the water content from real meat, a process that preserves the nutritional value of the ingredient and doesn’t require any chemicals or preservatives. Many freeze-dried treats are low in calories, and they’re typically very appealing to dogs, as they still smell like real meat. However, freeze-dried treats are generally very expensive.

How many treats would be unhealthy?

“As a pet owner, we love to treat our pets, but too many treats adds too many calories,” says Dr. Navratik. “Limit your pet’s calories from treats to 10 percent or less of their daily caloric need.” To figure this out, you’ll need to know how many calories your dog needs per day, which will vary depending on their age, activity level, and body condition. 

If my dog is overweight, can I still give them healthy treats?

Overweight dogs are at a higher risk for many serious medical conditions, and you’ll want to talk with your pet’s veterinarian to create a plan to help your dog lose weight. This will likely involve decreasing their daily caloric intake and increasing exercise, but you can still give them healthy, low-calorie treats, as long as you do so in moderation and adjust their food portions accordingly.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a lifelong animal lover who currently owns a 2-year-old Golden Retriever. She’s used several of the treats in this article during training, and her all-time favorite healthy treats are the Blue Buffalo BLUE Bits. While considering products for this article, she looked at their ingredients, calories, and palatability, and she also spoke with Dr. Joel Navratik, DVM, for guidance on how to select healthy dog treats. 

Health writer Anne Fritz also contributed research to this article, and spoke with Veterinarian Rolan Tripp, DVM, CABC, and founder of PetHappiness, for additional insights.

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