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Treats are a great way to motivate your dog, reward them, or just show them a little love. Treats don't have to be doggy junk food, the can add healthy nutrient's to your pet's diet. If your dog is getting a lot of rewards, you'll want to keep calories in mind too.
“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, daily exercise, and a happy life.” When shopping for treats, you'll also want to consider the size, texture, and self life that's best for you and your dog.
Here are our top picks for the best healthy dog treats for rewarding your pooch.
Best Overall: American Journey Lamb Recipe Grain-Free Oven Baked Crunchy Biscuit Dog Treats
If you're looking for a delicious, all-natural treat your dog will love, pick up the American Journey Lamb Recipe Grain-Free Oven Baked Crunchy Biscuit Dog Treats. Dogs can’t resist these crunchy treats, and you’ll feel good knowing that these are healthy for your pup and reasonably priced, too. “Dogs are omnivores; they need meat and vegetables, not one or the other,” says Dr. Tripp. These American Journey treats contain both, in the form of lamb, sweet potatoes, carrots, and pumpkins, plus dog-approved blueberries and apples free of any grain or fillers like soy, corn or wheat. Reviewers rave that their pups love these treats, even those that are picky eaters. As Dr. Tripp says, “The best treat is the treat your dog likes the best!” Find out what fruits dogs can eat.
Best Budget: DreamBone Churro-Style Mini Sticks, 30 Count
When it comes to training your pup, you can expect to go through treats quickly, which in turn can become pretty expensive. That's why we love the DreamBones Churro-Style Mini Sticks. Not only are these rawhide-free chews budget-friendly, but they can be chopped up into smaller, bite-sized pieces that are perfect for training. These are made with chicken, veggies, and a touch of cinnamon (which is safe for your dog in small quantities). “Dogs enjoy learning when there are prizes,” Dr. Tripp says. "In addition to treats, a prize can be a favorite toy or a special back rub; this not only helps you save money, but it also helps prevent overtreating," he added.
Best Splurge: Ava's Pet Palace Ava's Salmon Snacks
Feeding your pooch salmon is a great way to integrate extra nutrients into their diet. We recommend Ava's Pet Palace Salmon Snacks, which are made with only one ingredient, 100 percent wild-caught Alaskan salmon. These high-quality, all-natural treats arrive with skin or scales on them and should be refrigerated after opening for maximum freshness.
While they are a bit pricier than other treats on the market, they're packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids to support your dog's immune system and will help keep their coat shiny and lush. Keep in mind there’s often a waiting list for these and other pet snacks from this BIPOC-owned business, but trust us, they’re worth the wait. On a hot day, consider one of these chilled treats for dogs.
Best Organic: Grandma Lucy's Organic Pumpkin Oven Baked Dog Treats
If you're looking for a dog treat that mirrors homemade, pick up Grandma Lucy’s Organic Pumpkin Oven Baked Dog Treats. Made by a small family-owned company in Southern California, these bear-shaped treats are 100 percent USDA organic, GMO-free, and made with organic ingredients like organic pumpkin, which is known to help with digestion. Although pumpkin is the main ingredient, you still need to keep an eye on your dog’s weight. “A healthy weight is not a number; it’s how your dog looks and feels,” Dr. Tripp says. “You should be able to feel the ribs but not see them and see a slight waistline if the dog is at an ideal weight.” Reviewers noted that dogs aren't the only ones who can enjoy these all-natural treats, as they are human-friendly.
Best For Training: Pup-Peroni Dog Snacks
Available in a variety of flavors like lean beef, bacon, and more, these 90 percent fat-free treats are guilt-free, and your dog will love their meaty flavor. “Pup-Peroni sticks are universal favorites in puppy and dog training classes,” says Dr. Tripp, because a little can go a long way, and you can control how much to give from each stick. Allow the dog to lick it until they are in the position you are teaching, (like come close to me, sit, down, or an action like spin, look in my eyes, or touch my palm with your nose), he suggests.
“Use high-value treats to teach dogs new things or when you need their attention on you,” says Dr. Tripp. When you’re actively training your dog (and using a lot of treats), reduce the amount of kibble or canned food you feed by 10 percent to avoid overfeeding your pooch, he says. Release the treat from your hand within three seconds of the dog completing the desired action. “Scientific studies show dogs learn fastest when treats arrive within one to three seconds of a dog's success.”
Best for Puppies: Zuke's Mini Naturals Chicken Recipe Training Dog Treats
These are soft and tiny, so your pup can safely chew one quickly, and you can get on with doggie school. They’re made with only a handful of whole food ingredients, including deboned chicken, chicken liver, plus carrots, apples, and blueberries for a tasty treat that’s irresistible to your pup. Keep a few in your pockets so you’re always ready to reward your pup for good behavior—and redirect the bad.
Best for Small Dogs: Nudges Jerky Chews
These multi-layered treats are sized just right for small to medium-sized dogs. Small dogs and puppies will appreciate that the stick is perfectly sized for their mouths, while you’ll love that the chewy chicken jerky has a hardened chicken chew wrapped inside to keep them busy. The treats are all-natural, rawhide-and preservative-free and are made with real, U.S. raised chicken.
Best for Large Dogs: WHIMZEES Brushzees Natural Daily Dental Dog Treats
If you have a larger pooch, you'll want a treat that’s just larger than your dog’s mouth—and these are perfect for dogs that are 40 pounds and up. Not only are they a great way to reward your pup, but they are also designed with hollow shapes and spaces to get into the hard-to-reach places between your pup’s teeth (kind of like flossing) and clean them. They also feature knobs that help boost blood flow to the bum and prevent tartar build-up. But WHIMZEES aren’t just good for your pooch’s teeth; they’re essentially a multivitamin with added antioxidants and fiber to keep your best friend in tip-top shape.
If you're searching for an all-natural dog treat your pooch will enjoy, pick up the American Journey Lamb Recipe Grain-Free Oven Baked Crunchy Biscuit Dog Treats. Your pup will love these tasty treats, and you'll rest easy knowing they are free of soy and preservatives. But if you're searching for a training-friendly treat that won't break the bank, the DreamBone Churro-Style Mini Sticks are perfect for you.
Ingredients You’ll want to look for treats with recognizable whole food ingredients, like meat, fruits, and vegetables. Grains like soy, corn, and wheat are fillers that don’t add a lot of nutritional value, so steer clear of treat that have these as the primary ingredients. You’ll also want to avoid any artificial dyes, like Blue 2, Red 40, or Yellow 5.
Size Small dogs and puppies need smaller treats. You might want a larger treat for a bigger dog, or you might want small treats for training breeds of any size.
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.
Shelf Life If you’re going through a lot of treats quickly, this one may not matter so much. But if you’re planning to stash treats in places where you’ll need them infrequently (like the car), be sure to pick treats that don’t expire quickly.