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Dog treats is one of those essential purchases every pet owner makes. We use them for training or spoiling dogs, so it's important to pick something of good quality, healthy and cost-efficient. I've tried and tested nearly 100 different treats with my pack on Top Dog Tips and today I'm ranking ten of the best dog treats.
My goal with this dog treats review rankings was to find products with minimal ingredients, fewest calories per serving, good for dogs with sensitive stomachs, and full of vitamins and minerals. Another important factor was palatability, for which I had to do research and math to check that not only my four dogs like them but see what other pet owners have to say and how likely these treats are to be consumed by dogs.
Top 10 Best Dog Treats
1.Rocco & Roxie’s Jerky Treats Review - The Overall Best Dog Treats
Many pet parents have been leery about feeding their dog jerky treats recently because of all the recalls of treats made in China. But jerky treats are also a favorite of most dogs. They love the smell, texture, and taste of jerky because it's similar to the meat that dogs naturally crave. So Rocco & Roxie got a win here.
The first thing you’ll notice when opening any bag of Rocco & Roxie's treats is their smell. If you’re a fan of beef jerky, you may consider eating one too. The bag does specifically state that the treats are not for human consumption, which is what kept me from trying one.
These jerky treats smell exactly like human quality beef jerky. It’s a very rich aroma of beef and you can detect a hint of spices too. High-quality, all-American beef is the first ingredient in these treats, and you can smell the natural, smoky flavor.
The treats are made in small batches and are slow-smoked for 15 hours. This gives them a great soft texture that you can feel as soon as you pull one out of the bag. Unlike other jerky treats that are rubbery and obviously not made with real meat, these treats from Rocco & Roxie are so tender that you can easily rip them into smaller pieces with your fingers.
Personally, I usually put two 7-inch strips in my pocket when training our puppy and rip small bits off each time I need to reward her. An added bonus is that these pet treats don’t have a funky smell like other jerky treats for dogs. My pockets don’t carry that disgusting odor after a training session, and my hands don’t smell gross either.
These jerky treats are also wheat, corn, and soy free, and the company doesn’t use any gluten fillers either. The ingredients include (in order): beef, rice protein, spices, salt, sugar, garlic powder, and sodium nitrite. I had questions about the sodium nitrite, but after further research I found that it is a naturally-occurring mineral that is used to prevent any possibility of food-borne illness or botulism in meat.
Each 7-inch treat contains 25 calories, which is a lot for one treat, but as I mentioned they can be easily ripped into smaller pieces. If you rip each treat into 5 sections (which is still over 1-inch per piece), each piece would only have 5 calories. This cuts down on your pet’s calorie intake and also makes one 16 ounce bag of treats last a long time. We’ve had ours for about 5 weeks and I use them almost daily. We still have about 8 ounces of treats left.
2. Greenies Dental Treats - The Best Dental Dog Treats
Rocco & Roxie Jerky Treats are a little more expensive than other treats on the market. If they don’t fit into your budget, there are other treats that you can use which are also excellent choices for your dog’s health and well-being. Like people, every dog has their own taste preferences, so you may need to try two or three of these best treats for dogs before you find one that your Fido enjoys.
If dental hygiene is a concern for your pet, Greenies makes the best dental treats that can be used to help clean the dog's teeth in between regular vet visits. These pet treats come in five different sizes depending on your dog’s weight. They also come in a special blend for weight management and they are offered in a grain free variety as well. You can also choose from fresh mint or blueberry flavors.
Dental hygiene is extremely important for your pet’s overall health and well-being. Certain health problems can lead to dental issues, and dental issues can lead to many other more serious health problems if they aren’t taken care of properly. The best thing you can do is take your dog for regular cleanings and dental exams at your veterinarian’s office. Dry kibble, raw bones, and many types of dog toys can help clean your pet’s teeth in between visits, and brushing your pet’s teeth regularly will help too.
Greenies Dental Chews are good treats for keeping your pet’s mouth healthy. They are available in many veterinary offices and they are commonly recommended by vets as a great and easy way to care for your dog’s teeth. Although they feel strange and don’t seem like something that your dog should be ingesting, these treats are actually made from soluble, natural ingredients that break down quickly for easy digestion.
These treats for dogs are also low in fat and nutritionally complete for adult dogs. Puppies under 6 months old should not be given Greenies, even if they are within the weight guidelines. I would be sure to check with my veterinarian before feeding these treats to any dog less than 1 year of age, just to be safe. They are designed for daily treating, and if they aren’t given as directed the benefits are not guaranteed.
If you’ve ever tried to brush your dog’s teeth, it probably hasn’t gone very well – at least not for the first few tries. Although these aren’t a substitute for brushing, Greenies uses your dog’s natural chewing action to wipe tartar buildup and plaque off the surface of his teeth. They even have The Veterinary Oral Health Council Seal of Acceptance for plaque and tartar control. This is something you should always look for on treat packages that claim to be good for canine dental health.
One thing to note about these treats is that they have an estimated 95 calories in each one! That’s a lot! Since your dog needs to chew the entire treat and should have one each day to reap the benefits that they offer, you’ll need to adjust his diet accordingly to compensate for the extra calories he’s ingesting every day. Greenies are also available in almost every pet store, so they are much easier to find than the Rocco & Roxie Jerky Treats.
3. Zuke's Natural Dog Treats - The Best Low Calorie Dog Treats
One of the most popular treats are Zuke’s Mini Naturals. They are commonly used as training treats due to small size and low calories. They are similar in size to a pencil eraser and contain less than 3.5 calories per treat (each recipe has a different calorie count), which also makes them a great choice for fat dogs.
This is another product that is made in the United States, and they have no wheat, corn, or soy fillers. These are a great treat to have on hand as an alternative to Rocco & Roxie Jerky Treats. Zuke’s offer a flavor variety, as they are made with your choice of chicken (3.19 calories each), duck (3.0 calories each), pork (3.0 calories each), rabbit (2.81 calories each), salmon (2.87 calories each), or peanut butter (3.13 calories each) as the number one ingredient, and they are also full of whole food antioxidants.
Whole foods are foods that have not been processed in any way, like fruits and vegetables. Not only are they an important addition that should be incorporated into your pet’s diet, but antioxidants can benefit your dog’s overall health and well-being in many ways.
If you’ve never researched antioxidants and how they can benefit animals of all species, do yourself a favor and take some time to read about them. Antioxidants reduce the cellular damage done by free radicals and can help animals suffering from skin problems, cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, immune disorders, failing vision, cataracts, and many general problems associated with aging.
Each blend of Zuke’s Mini Naturals is made with nutrient-rich rosemary, cherries, and turmeric and an overwhelming majority of pet owners who use these treats rave about their palatability. If you use treat dispensing toys for your dog, these treats are perfect. Their small size and low calorie count make them ideal for use with these types of toys. You could even cut them in half to make your dog feel like he’s getting more, while keeping his calorie intake the same.
4. Wellness Wellbites Dog Treats - The Best Natural Dog Treats
As more information is released about the dangerous additives in pet foods and treats, more and more pet owners are understandably looking for natural products and natural dog treats. Wellness Wellbites are a great choice and one of healthier dog treats on the market.
These are soft and chewy treats, which is very appealing to dogs of any age or size, but also specifically to senior dogs or dogs with oral health issues. I love that these dog treats are made with real fruits and veggies that you can actually see in each treat.
You can see real chunks of carrots, sweet potatoes, blueberries, apples, and other fruits and vegetables in each little square treat. Wellness WellBites only have all-natural preservatives and do not include any wheat, corn, soy, or artificial flavors or colors.
When you feel how malleable and soft these treats for dogs are, you’ll be impressed. They don’t’ snap or crumble. You can easily tear these moist treats into pieces if you want to split them in half. It was difficult to find any negative consumer remarks about these treats. Dogs seem to love them, and pet parents are impressed with the healthy, natural, whole food ingredients used to make them.
5. Natural Balance L.I.T. Dog Treats - The Best Limited Ingredient Dog Treats
Another alternative that is great for all around health is Natural Balance L.I.T. Limited Ingredient Dog Treats. When they say limited ingredients, they mean it. The Potato and Duck formula is made with: dried potatoes, duck, potato protein, cane molasses, canola oil, natural flavor, natural mixed tocopherols (a natural preservative), naturally hickory smoke flavor, citric acid, and rosemary extract.
Every formula of these treats contains a single source animal protein and limited carbohydrate sources. Natural Balance treats are actually developed by a team of veterinarians and animal nutritionists to be beneficial to dogs of all ages from puppies through adults. These treats contain 30 calories each, which certainly isn’t terrible, but you shouldn’t be giving your dog multiple treats each day.
Natural Balance L.I.T. Limited Ingredient Dog Treats are grain free, so they’d be a great choice for dogs suffering from allergies or digestion sensitivities. If your dog prefers a crunchy treat, these are a great option as all of the other recommended dog treats are soft and moist. The company does offer a satisfaction guarantee, so if you have a picky eater like we do, you won’t be out the money if your pet doesn’t eat them.
These Blue Buffalo dog treats high-quality option and as I mentioned before, it may be wise to have more than one brand on hand to give your pooch a little variety. So if you're looking for an alternative when shopping, these are an affordable way to go.
Blue Buffalo Duck Biscuits are a 100% grain-free baked dog treat. They are one of the best treats for dogs that love crunchy biscuit-style treats. These limited ingredient treats from Blue Buffalo are made with (in order): duck, chicken meal, potato, chicken fat, flaxseed, salt, calcium carbonate, and mixed tocopherols and oil of rosemary (both are natural preservatives).
They include a minimum of 30% crude protein, and there are 41 calories in each treat. These treats are made in the United States with ingredients that are sourced in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Europe, and Australia.
The biscuits are about 1-inch by 1-inch squares, so they are ideal for small and medium breeds, but also work well for large dogs too. There are only about 30 squares in a bag, but they can easily be broken so you get more bang for your buck. Most crunchy biscuit treats are made primarily with grains, so these Blue Buffalo Duck Biscuits are a great alternative with a much higher nutritional value.
Another great choice for dogs that enjoy biscuit treats are Old Mother Hubbard Crunchy Classics. They are all-natural dog treats that do not have any artificial preservatives, and they come in many different flavors so you can find the flavor your dog likes the best.
The mini treats have 8 calories each, the small have 33 calories each, and the large have 138 calories each. I would definitely break the large biscuits in half or smaller. These biscuits from Old Mother Hubbard are oven baked, which helps to preserve the natural flavors.
Unfortunately, whole wheat flour is the main ingredient in these treats, making them a no-go for dogs with grain allergies. However, if your dog has sensitivities to meat, these treats would be a great choice! There is a small amount of garlic powder in these biscuits as well, but as mentioned before, a small amount is not harmful.
Crunchier than most similar products, these biscuits will take your pup a little longer to eat, preserving the excitement of receiving a treat. This also makes them dental health friendly, as they scrape and clean your pet’s teeth as he chews. One rare health benefit that you can find with the Char-Tar recipe of Old Mother Hubbard Crunchy Classics is added charcoal. Charcoal is great for detoxifying your dog’s system if he’s eaten something he shouldn’t have, but it also helps with gas. These biscuits are an easy way to de-stink your pet.
If your dog is on the raw food diet, try Natural Rapport Beef Bites. They are a drastic contrast from other treats on this list. They are made with 100% USDA inspected meat that has been freeze dried so they won’t spoil and they don’t require refrigeration.
Because they are made with 100% meat there are no fillers, artificial flavors, and no artificial dyes. These snacks from Natural Rapport are grain and gluten free, and they are hormone and antibiotic free as well. Pet parents are pleased with the appeal of these treats. Since they are made strictly with meat, dogs go crazy for them!
They smell delicious and they evoke a dog’s natural desire for meat. I like the fact that these treats are freeze dried so they do not require the use of any type of preservatives and they don’t need to be refrigerated. We recently switched our dogs to a raw food diet, and I’m running out of room in the refrigerator. It’s nice that I can feed my dog a raw food treat without having to store it in the refrigerator or freezer.
These treats are the most expensive on the list – $35 for an 8 ounce bag – but each bag contains two pounds of raw meat. According to the bag, that’s approximately 240 treats. That’s more than double the number of treats you’ll find in most dog treat packages. Unless your dog is sensitive to certain meats, these Natural Rapport Beef Bites are about as healthy as you can get.
Zuke’s Jerky Naturals are another small square treat that can be used for any size or breed. Much like the WellBites treats that I mentioned earlier, these chewy squares are made with real meat, carrots, blueberries, apples, and herbs that are rich in antioxidants.
The real fruits and vegetables that are used in these treats give them many additional health benefits on top of the added flavor. These treats are made in the United States as well, and the meat is sourced from the U.S. and New Zealand.
Zuke's treats come in a variety of flavors including beef (17.8 calories each), lamb (17.3 calories each), and turkey (16.6 calories each). The lamb and turkey options are ideal for pets with sensitivities to common proteins like chicken and beef. Zuke’s Jerky Naturals are made with whole foods which are much more nutrient-rich than processed foods, and they don’t use any artificial colors, flavors, or animal fat.
Many pet parents commented on the potent aroma of Zuke’s Jerky Naturals. They can smell the meat and fresh ingredients as soon as they open the bag. These also come in a zippered bag for easy storage. You can zip the bag closed so the treats don’t dry out. Some pet parents said they cut these squares into quarters for their small breed dogs which would make one bag last even longer. You probably wouldn’t be able to do this with a large breed though as a quarter of one of the little squares would be much too small.
Fruitables Crunchy Treats are another one of the best treats for dogs that you can buy. They come in a variety of flavors including: Crispy Bacon Apple, Pumpkin Blueberry, Pumpkin Apple, Pumpkin Banana, Sweet Potato Apple, and Pumpkin Cranberry.
These all natural treats are another product with an amazing aroma that will make you want to eat them yourself. All the flavors are less than 9 calories per treat, which makes them a great choice for any size dog and also perfect to use as training treats.
Pumpkin baked crunchy dog treats from Fruitables are made in the United States with all USA origin ingredients. They come in resealable pouches to ensure freshness and there are about 100 treats in each bag. Crude protein in each blend is about 8% and these limited ingredient treats are made with pumpkin as the first ingredient. These Fruitables Crunchy Dog Treats are harder than most biscuit style treats as well, so they are great for cleaning teeth, but may be too much for dogs with oral health issues.
The Bottom Line
What you should know before buying any dog treats
Before you make a decision on which type of dog treat to buy for your Fido, you should realize that you’re going to get what you pay for. You can go to a big box store and spend $2 for a bag of dog treats, but they’ll be full of artificial ingredients, fillers, and other harmful additives that aren’t good for your dog. Cheap treats usually provide your dog with little, if any, health benefits and they are typically high in calories as well.
Have you ever heard the term empty calories? That’s what you’re giving your dog if you feed him cheap dog treats. You will be meeting his daily calorie requirement, but the calories that you’re providing him with are empty. Your dog won’t get the energy and nutrients he needs from cheap dog treats. If you’re not already reading the label of every pet food item you buy, you should be! You need to be aware of the quality of the products that you’re feeding to your dog, and price should not be a factor, at least not a large one.
The same ingredients that are attributed to quality in human food denote quality in pet food as well. Top-quality ingredients are pure, fresh, and as minimally processed as possible. Whole dog food ingredients are always better than by-products or processed foods. Nutrient rich foods like whole fruits and vegetables are always better than fillers and additives and all-natural and organic dog products are much better than those full of artificial colors and preservatives.
Being aware of where your dog’s treats are made is helpful, but being aware of where they are sourced is what is truly important. Just because a package says that the treats are made in the U.S. or Canada, does not mean that is where the ingredients come from. You should pay careful attention to where the ingredients are sourced, especially if they are from China. There have been major issues and many canine deaths and illnesses recently that were all linked to dog food and treats that were made with ingredients from China.
What do I know about dog treats
I’ve been a dog owner my entire life, which doesn’t necessarily mean that I know a lot about treats for dogs, but it does mean that I have plenty of experience with many different types of treats and brands. My experience as an Editor-in-Chief for Top Dog Tips has involved a lot of research, reading, testing and reviewing of different types of treats, countless brands, and a lot of research on news related to dog treats. I’ve learned about the importance of knowing where your treats are sourced, and some major health issues, and legal issues, that have happened due to the consumption of unsafe products.
As a freelance writer I have spent countless hours researching many different topics, and I’m well versed in finding reliable sources for information. I may not be an expert on treats, but I’ve used my researching skills to find information from people who are, and I’ve used that research to compile this list.
Can dog treats improve your dog’s health?
In short, absolutely! A quality dog diet can improve virtually every aspect of your pet’s health, and the treats you choose to feed your dog are a large part of that. A dog treat with high quality protein will give your dog the energy he needs and also aid in healthy digestion.
Pet treats rich in antioxidants help to reduce the cellular damage done by free radicals and help return your dog or cat to a state of good health. You can also purchase treats that are specially formulated to help with health issues including hip and joint problems, oral health issues, and age related health problems.
Who should buy dog treats
Every pet owner should purchase good quality dog treats for their pets. If you have a puppy, treats can be beneficial for training purposes. If your dog is an adult you can still use treats to reward desired behaviors, but they are also just a nice way to show your dog a little extra love. Everyone loves having treats, and your dog is no exception. There are so many treats on the market that whether your dog is large or small, old or young, or even if he has special dietary needs, you can find some quality treats that will be healthy.
One common misconception is that dogs that are overweight should not have treats. That’s not entirely true, you just need to be sure that you’re feeding him the right kind of treat. You don’t want to take the happiness of treats away from your pet just because he’s overweight. Ultimately, if your pet is overweight it is your fault, so you shouldn’t punish him. As long as you monitor your dog’s daily caloric intake, even an obese dog on a very strict diet can still be allowed a treat every now and then.
How I chose these ten best treats for dogs
It wasn’t easy deciding on ten top rated dog treats for this article. There are thousands of good treats for dogs on the market. If you immediately disregard all the store brand treats and low-quality treats, there are still hundreds of well-made dog treats available. There were a lot of factors to evaluate when searching for treats. Initially I looked at the health benefits. A dog treat is certainly not worthy of being the best unless it offers numerous health benefits and is of exceptional nutritional quality.
Every treat on this list is made with top-quality ingredients that foster a well-balanced diet. Many of these treats are low in calories as well, or are large enough that they can be broken into pieces and served on multiple occasions. A majority of these dog treats are also grain-free or come in a grain-free formula for dogs who suffer from allergies and sensitivities.
These treats all have a smooth texture, whether moist or dry. They don’t look or feel rubbery or tough. They appeal to a dog’s natural cravings for meat and fresh ingredients. In fact, many of these treats smell so good that you may want to try one yourself. I wouldn’t recommend that unless the package specifically states they are okay for human consumption.
How I researched and evaluated each brand of dog treats
My research was done online through manufactures websites, consumer reviews, and articles and blogs from experts in the pet industry. I started out by researching what qualities canine nutritionists and veterinarians looked for when recommending dog treats. I discovered which health benefits they look for, what kinds of ingredients they recommend, and overall what they deemed to be healthy dog treats.
Then I began the search for treats. Once I found a brand that met the guidelines that I was looking for I started reading about the companies that created them, the ingredients they used, and where the products were made. This alone cut the list in half. Once I had a solid list of treats I believed to be top-quality I went to the consumer reviews.
I wanted to know what dogs and their owners thought of these treats. Specifically I wanted to know if dogs actually enjoyed them. You’d be surprised how many top quality treats are available that are not appealing to most dogs. Of course, every dog enjoys different flavors, but I only included treats on this list that appealed to the vast majority of the canines that have tried them. I also wanted to see what pet parents thought of the smell and texture of the products. If dog owners weren’t satisfied, neither was I.