We all spend a great deal of time thinking about and researching our dog’s nutrition.  It’s only natural; we do want the best for them, after all.
Despite this, quite a few owners hand out low-quality treats like they’re candy, and while they’re less caloric than food, it doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for your dog all the time either.
That’s why we set out to find the best dog treats and discover their secret.
Benefits of treating your doggo
While it’s not a necessary part of your dog’s diet – if she’s on a healthy dog-food, that is, treating your dog every once in a while, does have its advantages:
- It reinforces the bond between you and your pet
- It’s an excellent way to reinforce positive behavior
- It’s a brilliant training tool 
- It’s a healthier option than leftovers off your table
- They may promote dental health 
- A chewy treat is an alternative to your shoes or furniture
- Low in calories, so it’s good for a pooch on a diet
- Treats are often supplemented with additional nutrients
Popular doesn’t always equal best
One of the most popular treats is rawhide, for example, and these can actually be terrible chews.
They can sometimes contain toxic substances, and they can even splinter, causing your dog to choke if the pieces get lodged in their throats.  Chews and treats should be fun and therapeutic, not potentially life-threatening.
Knowing the difference between the two
If you’re looking for positive, healthy treats that still taste great and can be used for chewing or positive reinforcement, then you came to the right place. We’re known for overindulging our pets, so we have a pretty good idea of what’s out there.
Reviewing the best dog treats
Read ahead to find some of the best treats to reach for when it’s time for a quick puppy snack. Whether it be for training, positive behavior reinforcement, dental health promotion, or just for being a “good boy!”
The treats ahead were made to please.
Rocco & Roxie Supply Co. | Gourmet Jerky Dog Treats
Inspired by the Labradors that gave this company their name, Rocco & Roxie specialize in gourmet dog treats that are specially designed to make your dogs drool in anticipation.
Whether you’re opting to go with the:
- or turkey flavor
. . . you and your dog will appreciate that these treats are hand-made in small batches in the USA with all-American ingredients; then naturally smoked to bring out the full flavors of the meat.
If you’re new to jerky treats, they’re pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Similar to what you’d buy at the convenience store, they’re long strips of meat that you’ll probably want to break into smaller pieces before handing them off to your dog.
What’s great about this style of treats is that they tend to contain more protein and less filler, without compromising on moisture content for those hot summer days.
If you’re having trouble getting your dog to nail down those new tricks, then you should consider these treats as a positive reinforcement snack, since one whiff of them is enough to make most dogs compliant.
- Made with ingredients sourced in the USA
- Small batches, so fewer chances of widespread contamination or recalls
- Can be quite expensive, but they’re on sale often enough
Feedback for this product is overwhelmingly positive and received a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. Dogs who love human food should get a huge kick out of these treats since they mimic the taste and texture of real jerky quite well, giving them a delicious product that won’t negatively impact their health.
Customers note that the smell is powerful when you first crack open the bag which immediately attracts the attention of even the pickiest of pooches.
A few reviewers do comment that larger dogs are more likely to wolf the treats down without chewing them, so if you have a particularly gluttonous dog, we would recommend that you be sure to break the jerky strips into smaller pieces to encourage them to chew thoroughly before swallowing.
The final big point of praise was the ingredients list which is easy on the stomach and didn’t cause any allergic or intestinal issues in their pets. One owner noted that even the entire bag in a single sitting couldn’t keep their pet down, which is the mark of a good product, even if that’s not the most efficient way to hand out treats.
Some reviewers note, however, that the product can occasionally be inconsistent, and others raise potential concerns over the inclusion of garlic powder as an ingredient in the recipes.
Need some help keeping the house clean? Check out the best dog brushes for shedding.
Zuke’s | Mini Naturals Dog Treats
Maybe your dog doesn’t like beef. Maybe he’s tired of chicken. Or maybe it’s you that’s tired of giving your pet the same old food and flavors. If that’s the case, then Zuke’s might be a good brand for you to try since their bite-sized chews come in a wide variety of options that dogs almost unanimously adore.
Rabbit and salmon flavors are perhaps a little too niche for mainstream tastes, but we know for a darn near fact that most dogs simply adore the peanut butter flavor. Other added ingredients like fruits and veggies are also a nice way to supplement vitamin and mineral intakes, and while not always necessary, are definitely appreciated.
The individual treats are approximately kibble sized which is ideal for giving your dog a taste but isn’t enough to really satisfy his cravings which makes them perfect for regular training since you can keep them wanting more.
They’re also very light on calories, so if you have a dog that needs to shed a few pounds, you can still keep these coming without ruining his diet. That’s quite the relief for when they’re just so cute that you can’t resist rewarding them.
- Large variety of flavors for various tastes
- Small size makes them great training rewards
- Light on calories
- Treats start off wet and chewy (but quickly dry up even when properly resealed).
This product earned a solid rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Many owners of small puppies and dogs that are making their way through training programs often turn to Zuke’s as their first choice for a training reward.
In particular, they love that their small size and huge flavor makes them popular among most dogs and has them eager to respond to command after command until their energy levels start to drop and the session ends.
The smell is one of the first things owner notice upon opening a bag, and while they don’t particularly enjoy the pungent odors that stink up the kitchen, their dogs certainly do.
While they remain a healthy option for most pets, there are a few reports by owners who believe that they made dogs sick, costing their owners a lot of money in medical pills to diagnose and treat the problem.
These are few and far between, however, so don’t have it weighing on your mind too much. What concerns more owners, however, is that treats rapidly lose their aroma and dry up rather quickly, which can cause fussy eaters to stop noshing on them.
There are also some reviewers that are worried about degrading quality since the company was sold to Nestle, however, that occurred a few years ago and there have been no widespread issues as of yet.
BLUE Wilderness | Grain-Free Biscuits Crunchy Dog Treats
We know what you’re thinking: “If I’m going to buy a moist treat that quickly turns hard, then why not just buy a crunchy treat?” We agree wholeheartedly. In some cases, dogs even prefer harder treats as well.
Whatever your reason for turning towards them then, BLUE Wilderness has a product that might be for you. Our favorite blend is the turkey since it’s low in fat, high in protein, and is fortified with additional superfoods like flaxseeds to round out their diets with key nutrients like omega 3 and 6.
If you’re already feeding a high-quality food, then you don’t need to worry about this aspect too much, but for those owners that are still transitioning their pets off of low-grade kibble, then these additional perks should serve you and your dog well in the interim.
What’s great about crunchy treats, though, is that dogs are more inclined actually to chew them, regardless of their size. It might only be for a few seconds, but satisfying that craving might be all that’s enough to keep them from going after your sofa and shoes.
- High in protein
- Supplemental nutrients are included
- High in calories, so you need to carefully monitor your dog’s intake
Customers and their dogs are extremely pleased to have found BLUE Wilderness products on their quest for the perfect dog treat, and this indulgence scored a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Regardless of the flavor that they chose, owners agree that their dogs adore the taste and texture of these biscuits and could comfortably snack on them for hours if they were given a chance.
The fact that they’re grain-free makes them ideal for dogs with allergies or sensitivity issues, but what’s even better is the limited ingredients. Some meat, some potato, and some flavorings. That’s it.
Reviewers also appreciate that they come in a variety of sizes so that larger dogs can have something a little more robust to play with and chew compared to smaller pups. One thing you have to note if you live in a multi-pet household though is that it’s quite difficult to break these treats into bite-sized pieces evenly.
Owners note that they’re quite crumbly, so they’re not great for splitting apart. It also makes quite a mess, but if your dog is willing to clean the floor, then that’s not an issue at all.
SmartBones | Rawhide-Free Dog Chews
So, your dog loves rawhide. We get it. Most of them do. But you know that it may not be great for them and aren’t quite sure of where to turn. Well, thankfully SmartBones was wise enough to create an alternative that should please all but the most stubborn of purists.
Made of wholesome ingredients that include both chicken and peanut butter, these dog chews come in either large or small sizes to suit your dog and are completely edible! As an added benefit, they’re also more durable than traditional biscuits, allowing dogs to chew on them for longer periods of time.
That’s great for nervous dogs and is also a nice oral health care routine for their teeth and gums. One important thing to note is that they’re made overseas. Which is not inherently a bad thing, and many customers can attest that their dogs are perfectly healthy and happy eating these treats. If you do have any concerns about animal products made in an international facility, these may not be for you.
- Durable and tasty alternative to rawhide bones
- Helps cleans your dog’s teeth
- Has recently undergone a price hike
This product scored a 4.6 out of 5 stars rating, and aside from a vocal minority, most customers have lots of praise for SmartBones as a company. They appreciate subtle touches like:
- the use of vegetables and peanut butter
- offering different sizes
- and the durable coating that leaves no residue along your floor or carpets.
All of these factors make these treats a wise, convenient choice since you don’t have to worry about extensive clean-ups. They’re also a good tool to keep your dog busy for when you’re bogged down in your home office.
That wouldn’t mean much if dogs didn’t love them though, and thankfully everything there is positive as well. From Pit Bulls to German Shepherds, dogs of all breeds find comfort in the rhythmic chewing of this faux-rawhide treat.
The fact that they’re made in Vietnam is a huge negative for some customers, however, and there are a few reports of vomiting and diarrhea that seem to reinforce these claims. However, there are not many of them, so if you’re on the fence don’t let these negative reviews drown out the thousands of positive ones.
Milk-Bone | Maro Snacks
One of the most popular treats that have been around seemingly forever, Milk-Bone treats are proudly made in New York state and have been pleasing your pet for over one hundred years.
Their innovative recipes pack some delicious and nutritious bone marrow into the center of each treat, prompting your dog to dig and weasel his way in there to get at the prize.
Despite what you’d think reading that sentence, they’re also pretty low in calories, so this can still be a good dietary or training treat. While larger boxes are great value for the money, you do take a compromise in the quality of the ingredients.
As opposed to others on this list where meat is the first ingredient, here it’s wheat flour, and instead of chicken, beef, or something else that’s recognizable, this box simply contains… “meat.” It’s not exactly confidence inspiring, but they’ve been around so long, and there are so few reports of them harming our pets, that the company has to be doing something right.
- Affordable in larger package sizes
- Includes calcium for improved dental health
- Made in the USA
- First ingredient isn’t a source of protein
- Includes “meat” as an ingredient, rather than naming a recognized source
Despite some of the concerning aspects we mentioned earlier, this product earned a rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars, and customers found a lot to love about the package that’s on offer here.
First off, it’s economical which allows it to fit into the budgets of most owners. Second, owners love that the diversity in flavors allows for each treat to be an exciting reward when training. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, customers love to see their dogs enjoy themselves.
An often-cited underrated aspect is the airtight container too, which, contrary to pouches or bags, can be shut tight to preserve freshness, flavor, and scent. Hardcore purists will no doubt turn their nose at this product based on the ingredients, and in fact, many do.
Given in moderation as a snack rather than as a meal, though, these treats will still serve most dogs quite well for years.
Final take on healthy dog treats
Everyone loves to snack, dogs included. While we all would ideally be reaching for an apple or a banana, there’s something to say about some chips every once in a while. Use that same logic when shopping for dog treats.
On this list, we included some of the healthiest snacks we could find, as well as some that are better used as an indulgence. Given in moderation though, they’re all great and can suit a wide variety of purposes.
Buy the one that you think your dog will go crazy for, and watch her melt your heart as she munches on her favorite snacks.
Another great read: Best Dog Toothpaste for Refreshing Doggo Breath.
- “Focus on nutrition: Home-prepared diets for dogs and cats.”
L. P. Weeth. March 2013
- Burton, A.G., C.T. Talbot, and M.S. Kent. “Risk Factors for Death in Dogs Treated for Esophageal Foreign Body Obstruction: A Retrospective Cohort Study of 222 Cases (1998–2017).” Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 31.6 (2017): 1686–1690. PMC. Web. 22 Oct. 2018.
- Hasegawa, Masashi, Nobuyo Ohtani, and Mitsuaki Ohta. “Dogs’ Body Language Relevant to Learning Achievement.” Animals : an Open Access Journal from MDPI 4.1 (2014): 45–58. PMC. Web. 22 Oct. 2018.
- “Oral health benefits of a daily dental chew in dogs.” B. W. Quest. 2013