Everyone loves to give their dog treats. Dogs are such enthusiastic lovers, it is a gratifying experience to reward them with treats they can happily chow down on. Not only does it give affection and attention to your dog, but also helps as a training tool to reward them for good behavior or actions.
Natural dog treats are quickly becoming more and more important for dog owners as they are becoming aware of the value of healthy treats for dogs.
Giving good, healthy dog food is one of the most important steps to having a happy, healthy, dog living a full life. But by giving dog treats packed with unhealthy fillers, or meats from animals pumped full of hormones, you can unintentionally impact your dog’s health negatively.
It is important to give treats that are low in calories, natural, with no artificial or unhealthy ingredients, and have healthy benefits. Doing so you can give treats & rewards to your dog without the bad side effects.
Here are some tips and things to watch out for:
Too many calories
Many dogs do not require a lot of calories each day. Many treats have too many calories in relation to your dog’s activity and weight, and can quickly add up to unhealthy amounts. Too many calories leads to obesity, and other health issues. This is especially true of human food, which often is loaded with sugar, fats, and in general overly rich for dogs.
Just as you want to find healthier snack options for in between meals for yourself, you should take the same approach to your dog’s diet. Treats usually aren’t designed to be nutritious or low-calories. Often they have higher fats and fillers to make them more appealing for dogs.
A good way to look for treats that are low in calories is to find ones with understandable ingredients and no high-carb, high-calorie ingredients high on the list. For example, our Brutus & Barnaby pig ears are just one ingredient with nothing else added, so you can be sure you are giving your dog healthy treats
Another tip is to look for treats that are high in protein. This is a great source of natural energy & nutrition that provides your dog’s body with the basic building blocks it needs to maintain almost every aspect of health. This avoids the excess “baggage” calories that just get loaded up as unneeded fat in dogs (just the same as in humans). You can also look for natural treats high in fiber, such as sweet potatoes or other vegetables, which also are low in calories (we offer great sweet potato treats for dogs that are delicious and very healthy).
It’s fairly common sense to lay off the greasy burgers being tossed to dogs, or the cheap dog biscuits loaded with flour and sweeteners or fillers, and instead give a sweet potato slice or chicken jerky. It’s the same common sense that if a person is watching their weight to lay off the snickers and instead go for a bowl of veggies.
Dog treats have gotten so prettied up in manufacturing to make them more appealing to buy that many brands have lost the natural ingredients that make them healthy. For example, a dog biscuit shaped like animals, which are full of empty calories. Real treats often are not as visually appealing. However, they are exactly what your dog needs to be healthy, as they are what they ate in the wild.
Do not be adverse to real ingredients. A slice of sweet potato may not look as pretty as that dental stick chew, but it is very low calories, high in naturally occuring antioxidants, and gives far more health benefits.
In general, a good ingredient list to look for in dog treats often looks like this: “Ingredients: Sweet potato, pumpkin, cinammon.” (Like our Sweet Potato Cinammon Pumpkin Sticks)
No artificial additives, colors or ingredients
Many additives are not needed if you have properly prepared natural foods. Artificial preservatives or long lists of added unnecessary ingredients (that are hard to read and harder to understand) often are there because of low quality preparation or ingredients.
There are natural preservatives used to prolong freshness and help keep treats from becoming stale. Some examples of natural preservatives are rosemary extract (very understandable and healthy too), or tocopherols (which come from Vitamin E).
Some examples of artificial preservatives are benzoic acid, sodium sulfite, or potassium sorbate (yeah, just reading those you can tell they are artificial and hard to understand). Studies have shown these can lead to unintentional side effects in health in humans, and is good reason to stay away from them for your pets, too. You don’t want to buy treats that have been on a shelf for a year with an artificial preservatives.
You shouldn’t need artificial food coloring in dog treats (dogs don’t great eyesight - they choose their food by smell mainly). It isn’t necessary to have that “visually appealing” color. Dog treats should be appealing because they are appealing naturally, not altered chemically to look better.
It’s always the best idea to get natural, healthy treats, with natural, healthy ingredients.
No unnecessary fillers
Fillers, such as wheat or corn, in dog treats are often there to bring the price down and profits up. Dogs can have whole grains, and they can provide healthy benefits. But this should be in moderation. In general, avoiding wheat, flour, and especially corn (which has almost no benefits for dogs), is a good tactic in choosing the right treats.
Dogs are primarily meat eaters. They can eat grains, rice, corn, and utilize the carbohydrates for fuel. Plus the fiber in it provides other healthy benefits. However, they do not have the same digestive system that herbivores (such as cows or sheep) have, nor the same as humans. There are very healthy vegan dietary sources for dogs, but in general they do best with meat sources of nutrition.
This knowledge is available for most pet treat manufacturers. The problem they face is to get the most profits, often cheaper more available fillers are added, such rice, or corn. So instead of getting a bully stick with just beef, you can get a chew stick.
Just to give an idea of what to avoid, we picked a random treat off the shelves (we won’t mention names) and these were the first 4 ingredients: corn starch, glycerin, sorbitol, pea flour, all of which are unnecessary fillers which although are not harmful to dogs, have very little health benefits and are just empty carbs. The 5th ingredient was chicken. Yet on the bag it was marketed as “Made with real chicken!” with a big picture of a chicken. All those ingredients are cheap for the manufacturer and serve no purpose other than selling the items at a bigger profit at the cost of the health value of the treats.
Compare that to our Brutus & Barnaby California Chicken Jerky. Ingredients: 100% USA Chicken Breasts. No further comment necessary.
Hormones are injected into animals in order to make them gain weight faster for meat production - such as cows or chickens. Not to mention it being odd, it bypasses the natural growth processes for the animals.
This is of course used for financial reasons - to increase the rate at which the farms/producers can sell the beef or chicken or other products. But the cost is that studies on hormones have linked them to cancer causing properties in humans. Plus, the cows or chickens in this condition often are kept in poor conditions, not free-range, with food delivered to them - not very humane.
While hormone treating for cows or animals in the US is allowed by the FDA, it is generally common knowledge to try to get hormone free meats for eating. All these reasons apply just as much to what you feed your dog. To keep your dog as healthy and happy as long as possible, giving them hormone-free treats is the ideal option.
All-Natural Dog Treats
Brutus & Barnaby is proud to provide all-natural, hormone-free treats. All our treats have ingredients that are easy to understand, and are real. We do not add fillers or additives, and do not have any artificial flavors or preservatives. We do not cut costs when it comes to quality treats for your dog. So be sure to check out our treats here to give your dog a healthy reward or gift!