As a dog owner, there’s probably not much you wouldn’t do to ensure that your beloved pup is living his or her best life every single day! Most pet parents prioritize the health and well-being of their four-legged friends, often putting their pooches’ needs and interests even before their own! If you’re one of the millions of people worldwide whose heart is completely wrapped around a special pup’s paw, it goes without saying that you do your very best to stay on top of the latest health and wellness trends and make sure your furry pal gets only the very best in food, treats, and supplies.
But what actually constitutes “healthy” in the world of dog treats? After all, you may be thinking to yourself, if they’re stocking them on the shelves of reputable pet stores and big-box retailers, as well as being carried by online shopping giants like Chewy and Amazon, they must be healthy, right? Actually, you’d be surprised- make that shocked- if you knew the whole truth about a number of dog treats currently on the market. Not only can these treats be unhealthy for your dog by promoting weight gain and offering little to no nutritional benefit, but some of them, like rawhide chews, can be downright dangerous for your pooch! Here’s how to tell if the dog treats you’re giving your best friend are the gold standard of canine health, or…something else.
Check the Ingredients
Just like with human food, dog food and treats come with nutrition labels. These labels give consumers all the information they need to know about the treats they are purchasing for their favorite pets, including a list of the ingredients used to make the treats. Since manufacturers always list the ingredients in order by weight, it’s easy to tell how much healthy stuff is truly being used. Top-quality dog treats tend to use whole ingredients, as opposed to by-products. For example, A dog treat that lists “corn” as an ingredient is likely to provide significantly more nutritional benefit for your dog than one containing “corn meal.” Try to choose dog treats that are made with 100% all-natural, whole ingredients so you can be sure your pup is getting what he or she needs to stay healthy and happy.
Would You Eat It Yourself?
It’s no secret that a dog’s favorite treat is often whatever is on his or her dog parent’s plate! While feeding your dog “people food” is not always a good idea, certain foods enjoyed by humans are also quite healthy for dogs. For instance, sweet potato, that popular antioxidant-rich vegetable that graces Thanksgiving tables everywhere each year, is also an excellent food for dogs- which is why so many premium-quality dog food and treat manufacturers include sweet potato as a prime ingredient. Other foods, like apple, pumpkin, and of course whole meats like chicken, salmon, and beef, are extremely popular ingredients used by high-quality dog food manufacturers. By looking for dog treats that advertise “human grade” ingredients, you can be sure that your dog is getting the real deal. Try to choose your dog’s treats by thinking about whether you would eat the listed ingredients yourself!
If you already make it a point to shop for organic fruits, veggies, and meats for yourself and your family, then you know what a difference it makes! Organic foods are likely to contain fewer contaminants and are free from pesticides, hormones, preservatives, or fillers. Additionally, most organic foods are also listed as “Non-GMO,” meaning they do not contain any genetically-modified ingredients, so you can be sure you are eating whole foods only. Not surprisingly, the organic food market has expanded to include our furry family members as well- you can purchase organic hemp dog treats and food for your dog, and ensure that your whole family’s diet is healthy, clean, and natural.
Skip the Sugar
Here’s a little secret- dogs need refined sugar in their diets about as much as people do- which is to say, not at all! That doesn’t mean your pup doesn’t enjoy and deserve a deliciously sweet treat from time to time. Premium dog treats that are naturally sweetened with applesauce, honey, or molasses are infinitely better for doggo than artificial sweeteners or refined sugars that can be found in lower-quality treats. A word of caution: even though natural sweetener is healthier, it’s still a good idea to treat your dog with the sweet stuff sparingly, as it’s still not the very best thing for them!
MEAT, not “meat!”
Yes, we know that many dog treats on the market include words like “beef,” “bacon,” and “chicken,” but few treats actually contain more than a tiny percentage of the real thing! While a number of dog treat manufacturers use animal by-products instead of whole meats, others bypass meat altogether in favor of artificial flavoring! Needless to say, even when you think you’re giving your dog a meat-based treat, you may actually be giving him or her a flavored lump of low-grade mystery sludge. When shopping for meat-based dog treats, keep this rule of thumb in mind: the fewer ingredients listed, the better!
Extend Health Trends to Your Dog
You’ve certainly heard the buzz that’s been generated by the popularization of hemp as a beneficial ingredient, and you possibly may have some hemp-based foods or products in your cupboards or medicine cabinet right now! But did you also know that hemp treats for dogs are trending? That’s right- dog moms and dads everywhere swear by hemp treats for dogs, claiming that they help lessen anxiety and ease arthritis and joint pain in senior dogs, among other things. Hemp-based dog treats come in a variety of styles and flavors and have become quite popular among both humans and the canine contingent!
We know you love your dog and want the best for him or her, but it’s not always easy to assess whether the treats you’re buying are healthy. Use these guidelines to make your next purchase of dog treats so you can have peace of mind that your pup is getting the best of everything!