Every dog owner likes to treat their pooch as a reward for good behaviour. Part of the problem is knowing what the healthiest choices are for your pet. It will come as no surprise to anybody that dogs absolutely love treats. They’d eat treats and nothing else if they could get away with it! Picking the right kind of treats can be a very daunting task, especially as there is often a huge variety commercially in supermarkets and pet stores.

There’s also the ambiguous health claims many of the major pet food companies use in their packaging, along with the bright colours and bold logos to grab your attention. Many of these treats contain an abundance of ingredients that the average shopper won’t know a great deal about.So, how can you tell what you’re buying is truly a healthy choice?

How to tell if a snack is healthy

The first thing is to ensure you’re choosing treats that are formulated for dogs. Look closely at the packaging to find the ingredients and nutritional information. That should be easy as this information is required by law. If the treats are packed with sugar and fat then they should be avoided.ย  There are many healthier alternatives that your dog will enjoy just as much.

Check the source of the key ingredients, particularly with meat content to ensure the product is minimally processed with good quality ingredients. Finally, make sure that the product is free from artificial flavours, colours and preservatives. This will be indicated clearly on the label. If it isn’t free from these, avoid them! It will be better for the long-term health of your pet. If you are in doubt about any ingredients, look for a phone number to call or a website address so you can find out more.

10% rule

There is a general rule that states you should not give your dog more than 10% of their daily food intake as treats. It’s easy to forget but every treat you give your dog is adding calories in addition to their regular meals during the day. The easiest way to cut down on your dog’s treat consumption is to give them smaller portions. Break the treats up into smaller pieces to make them last longer. Your dog will think he’s getting treats more often when in reality you’re giving him less overall. You will need to check with your veterinary practice for the exact calorie recommendations for your dog because this will depend on a number of things, including breed, age, weight and activity levels.

Considering natural alternatives

Although the choice for commercial dog treats is very wide in stores at the moment, you should consider some of the more natural alternatives to the major players. The advantages to treating your dog are immense because it can teach them to be more obedient and disciplined. However, treating them too much can lead to obesity. The best way to avoid this situation is to stick to the 10% rule and limit the sugar and fat intake in their diet. Here are 5 of our top picks for healthier treats. We’ve tried all of them with Poppy the Lhasa Apso, and they’ve all become something that she really enjoys as a special reward for good behaviour.


Carrots

We couldn’t write this blog post without a special mention of carrots. Our own Poppy has something of an obsession with carrots. Not only are they just a very tasty treat, they also have a range of health benefits for dogs. The first of those is Vitamin A, an essential nutrient for dogs. This helps improve eye health, as well as their immune system and skin health. If you want your dog to get the full nutritional benefits you will need to lightly cook them. Otherwise if dogs eat them raw, they won’t get the full nutritional benefit but it will benefit their teeth because of the crunchiness. Crucially, carrots are a totally natural, low fat, low calorie, high fibre treat.

Puppy with a carrot and a blanket


Lily’s Kitchen natural chews

There are many pet brands out there who make claims about their products but what you’re really looking for are products that boast natural ingredients. Lily’s Kitchen does just that. At the heart of their ethos is to provide dog owners with healthier choices. All of their recipes and treats are made with natural ingredients. Some of their foods also contain added vegetables and herbs. Poppy, who is a very fussy little dog, has been enjoying the fish dog chews by Lily’s for a few months now. There’s some peace of mind that the ingredients are natural with low fat and low calories.




Little Stars treats

VetsKitchen makes a great product for dogs called little stars. We found their treats to be great for training little puppies to perform the basic commands. They are totally natural and hypoallergenic and this is clearly displayed on the packaging. Poppy is very fussy so she’ll only eat the chicken flavour but they do come in multiple flavours. Whatever brand you’re buying keep an eye out for product labels and look for natural, low fat, preservative free.

Lhasa Apso puppy with a bag of treats


Pumpkin

With leaves falling from the trees and autumn in full swing, there are pumpkins popping up all over the place. Although they’re great for carving scary faces, did you know these bright orange vegetables are actually a perfectly healthy alternative to a classic dog treat? They are a great source of fibre and can help with regularity of the digestive system. A little scoop mixed with regular food can really help with sensitive stomachs and get your dog right back on track after an episode of diarrhoea. Pumpkins are also a very tasty low fat low calorie option to keep those weight issues at bay!

Lhasa Apso with autumn leaves


Bonio

Since 1932 bonio is a brand that has been loved by dogs all over the UK. According to the manufacturer, there are over 1 million bonios eaten every single day. The oven baked biscuits are low in fat and contain totally natural ingredients. The texture of the biscuit also helps do away with plaque and tartar buildup, improving the dental hygiene of your dog. These are by far Poppy’s favourite biscuit. She doesn’t eat them straight away though. She’ll often run off and hide it somewhere so she can enjoy it later. That’s one to bear in mind when giving your dogs these types of treats. You can buy multiple quantities of bonio from VioVet, the biggest online UK pet retailer. Check the feeding instructions and make sure you’re only giving the proper recommended quantity, so keep an eye out for any cheeky dogs that try to stash treats away!Puppy eating a bonio biscuit


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