By canine standards, any treat is a good treat—even if a “treat” means a chicken bone found on the sidewalk. But the best dog treats by dog owner standards are the ones that get our pups’ tails wagging and reward them for good behavior, without negatively affecting their otherwise healthy diet. Similar to pet food, the pet treat market is highly saturated with new pet food delivery and subscriptions growing every year so we spoke with the experts: veterinarians.
As is the case when shopping for dog food, Lori Prantil, M.P.S., D.V.M., D.A.C.V.I.M., of the VCA South Shore Animal Hospital, suggests seeking out brands that follow the manufacturing guidelines laid out by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA). These guidelines include developing recipes with a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist and using brand-owned factories. Jeremy Kimmelstiel, V.M.D., associate regional medical director of Bond Vet, tells SELF another easy way to find treats that’ll make your dog happy is to see if your preferred dog food brand makes treats: “You can be fairly sure it’s a similar quality and uses similar ingredients, so it’s likely to agree with your dog’s stomach if they are doing well on a dog food of the same brand.” He adds that, whatever brand you go for, just make sure that treats don’t account for more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.
In the same way that there are preferable treats (say, from brands that adhere to the WSAVA recommendations), there are also ones worth avoiding. Dr. Prantil specifically notes that jerky treats, rawhides, bully sticks, antlers, and pig ears won’t be the healthiest options for your pooch, as they tend to be high in calories and low in quality protein.
Luckily, there is still a great wide world of treats that your pup will enjoy and make the best gift for dog lovers. Choose from teeny tiny training treats to crunchy biscuits to daily dental chews. We’ve highlighted some of the best dog treats you can buy right now, from high-quality, top-rated brands like Merrick, Natural Balance, and Zuke’s that you’re sure to love (and your doggie will downright beg for).
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