You feed your dog only the highest quality foods. The same should hold true for treats. Avoid giving your best friend the equivalent of canine candy, and reward him with healthy treats consisting of organic and/or raw ingredients.
What is Organic?
By law, organic meat treats come from livestock that do not receive antibiotics or growth hormone, and in the case of cattle, are grass-fed. Plant products are synthetic fertilizer and pesticide-free. Of course, organic foods are never genetically modified.
When choosing a treat, read the label carefully. Look not only for organic ingredients, but few ingredients overall. With dog treats, less is more. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows a little leeway in foods labeled organic. Up to 5 percent of these foods may contain non-organic ingredients. Avoid treats containing:
Raw treats are usually freeze-dried, and composed of beef, chicken or lamb liver. Such treats complement an overall raw food diet, based on the philosophy that raw is the natural way for canines to eat. As with any diet, there’s controversy, but dogs don’t care about that. They just love the taste.
Fewer Allergic Triggers
Food allergies in dogs manifest themselves as severe skin issues. If you’ve ever had a pet suffering from a food allergy, you know it’s difficult to treat. That’s because getting to the bottom of a canine food allergy is a matter of trial-and-error. It consists of feeding a new, single source of protein – such as kangaroo or rabbit – to the animal for three months or more, and seeing if symptoms resolve. If there is no improvement, it’s back to the drawing board with another novel protein. If symptoms cease, you must go back to the dog’s original, pre-trial food and see if the allergy re-emerges. It’s not a fun time for you or Fido.
Choosing organic treats reduces the odds of triggering a food allergy in your dog. These treats shouldn’t contain common causes of canine allergic reactions, including:
Made in the USA
You’ve probably heard reports of dogs getting sick or even dying after ingesting treats made in China or other developing countries. It’s not easy to tell where the materials from a treat originated unless that information is included on the package label. Tainted treats came from American companies that outsourced their manufacturing to other nations. The FDA reports that the majority of the cases involves chicken jerky, but also “duck, sweet potato, and treats where chicken or duck jerky is wrapped around dried fruits, sweet potatoes, or yams.”
If the package doesn’t contain information about where the ingredients originated and where the product was manufactured, call the company and find out.
Organic treats can help your dog maintain healthy teeth and gums. These treats are best given right after your dog’s meals. Look for products with the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval.
When given in moderation, organic or raw treats shouldn’t cause your dog to gain weight. That’s because treats with healthy ingredients contain fewer calories than standard dog treats. The latter includes grains along with additives and fillers, all of which boost the calorie count. It’s the difference between a person snacking on a piece of fruit versus potato chips.
Treats and Training
Treats are an ideal reward for any type of training, whether your dog is learning obedience skills or still mastering the concept of eliminating outdoors. For obedience, tricks and other more intense training, your dog might receive a fair amount of treats in each session. While it’s always important to give your dog healthy treats, that’s especially true if he consumes several in a relatively short time period. Look for treats especially designed for training purposes.
High Value Treats
Not all treats are created equal, even if healthy. A nibble of holistic kibble is “low value” – tasty, but not exciting. A high value treat is an item your dog really loves, and will focus on whatever you want him to do to get his reward. Raw treats usually fall into this category. If it’s possible for your dog to love you even more than he already does, high value treats will do the trick.