Ingredients (still) matter
As it goes for food, so goes it for treats. Believe it or not, we have seen folks purchase a food free of a particular ‘problem ingredient’, only to purchase treats loaded with that very thing.
Of course, potential allergens or intolerances are hardly the only reasons to make sure you’re feeding healthy treats to your pets. Better treats mean better health, fewer trips to the vet (lower bills!), and a happier pet. Better treats also mean more of the ingredients (real meat!) that pets should be eating.
Many of the brands of food we sell at Joey’s offer great treats as well, and there are even more healthy treats (of all different types) available from a myriad of great manufacturers. Let’s explore some of the categories of treats you can offer your dogs (cats too, but this is mostly a dog thing) to greatly benefit their health and happiness.
Treat / Toy hybrids
Nylabones and Benebones are infused with flavor, but are also quite durable, and not really ‘edible’ in the traditional sense.
This category doesn’t always contain the most wholesome ingredients in the flavoring, but generally they are a fantastic way to make sure your dogs get their chewing fix (dogs are genetically designed, and inclined, to chew). Two other brands of toy/treat combos worth exploring are Kong, and Premier Pet Products’ Busy Buddy line; the Busy Buddies are particularly clever creations for your dog to explore.
As a point of reference we’ll explore how the Nylabone brand, in particular, has further blurred the line between treats and toys with their Healthy Edibles line. These are significantly more digestible than traditional Nylabones, and you’ll actually observe your dog biting off chunks and eating them; the Dura Chew, on the other hand is the hardest, and it works by breaking down into tiny little shavings that are easily passed by the dog if eaten, but it isn’t ‘edible’ in the sense that bites could be chewed off and swallowed.
Generally the harder chews and toys need less supervision than toy/treat hybrids that are more easily broken off and swallowed. More toy-oriented things like Dura Chews are fantastic for teeth cleaning, and low-supervision, I-need-to-keep-my-dog-busy for awhile toys, while Healthy Edibles are more of a longer-lasting, extended-reward treat.
The popularity of edible chews seems to be on an exponential rise. Bully sticks, beef tendons, tripe, pig ears, even buffalo bully sticks and tripe, are just some of the latest forms of more natural treats to hit the market; and these are some of our favorites for your dog.
While these treats certainly are processed to shelf stability, they are much more natural to your dog’s eating/chewing habits than synthetic chews and toys. Much of the emergence of these types of treats stems from growing concerns over rawhide. We don’t see rawhide as a boogeyman, but certainly dogs should not be left to eat large quantities (say a 4” sized bone or larger) in one sitting.
Things like bully sticks, however, represent something a dog might very well eat in the wild. There are also many higher quality options now available which source free range cattle and are chemical-free. Rawhides are often heavily processed, bleached, cleaned, etc. to make the product appealing to the consumer.
Meat Treats / Jerky
Another option for your carnivorous pets, all meat treats like chicken breast filets and jerky are a good way to cut out some of the more sugary, high-glycemic carbohydrates while still spoiling your baby.
Your pets certainly don’t need these treats, but they’re a solid option for a relatively healthy reward. The most famous example of this type of treat at Joey's can be found with Spot Farms, Ziwi Rewards and Fruitables
Training treats are an essential in any dog pantry. These treats should be quite small in size, with very high quality ingredients, so that they can be fed frequently without causing weight gain or stomach upset.
Positive behavior habits are very difficult to maintain without some sort of reward system, and treats are usually the most effective because dogs are so food motivated. Exercise and discipline are very important, but dogs also need an easy way to quickly associate a positive experience with positive behavior. Zuke’s Mini Naturals, Cloudstar’s Buddy Biscuits, and NutriSource's training treats are just a few examples of excellent small treats that can be fed in high volume.
Who hasn’t bought a bag of dog biscuits for their best friend before?
Just make sure they’re not loaded with ingredients that upset your dog’s skin or tummy, because switching off a food that had those ingredients won’t make any difference if you’re still feeding gluten or grain-loaded treats.
This one is just plain fun. Many of you have probably noticed that you can get bakery style cookies for your dogs now.
Just be sure to investigate the ingredients in these treats, and determine whether your dog can have everything that is in those cookies. (Don’t worry, it doesn’t take long.) Most of the bakery cookies we’ve found are from fresh, new companies that have a passion for making high quality cookies that are bunches of fun to give your dog. Check out our Michigan made options of Riker's All Natural dog treats and the D.O.G. Bakery. Of course, just like with cookies for us, moderation is key.
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