When it comes to buying treats for your dog, there are an unlimited number of dog treat options out there. From raw hides and training treats to dental chews and milk bones (and everything else in between), it can be difficult choosing the right – and healthiest – treats for your four-legged best friend. When it’s all said and done, however, the three most important things to consider are nutritional value, safety and your dog’s individual preferences.
And while you may be tempted to share bits of your meals or bites of your favorite beef jerky snacks, keep reading to find out why that may not be the best choice for your pup.
Healthy Treats for Dogs
Finding the best dog treats for your dog (or dogs) can feel a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears – some may be too big, some may be too tough, however, there are treats out there that are just right. There are a few things to consider when looking for that perfect pot of porridge, so to speak.
Dog Treat Size & Texture
It’s important to pick treats that are appropriate in size for your dog and for the situation. Smaller treats are ideal for training purposes, while larger treats can be given as occasional rewards for good behavior (or just because!). Softer large treats can also be cut into smaller pieces to be used for training or to moderate the number of treats given in a single sitting. In general, treats with a texture that promotes chewing can also help maintain dental health.
Dog Treat Nutritional Value
Your dog’s treats should complement their regular diet without adding excessive calories. This is one of many reasons why feeding your dog human food can be detrimental to their health. Instead, look for treats that are low-calorie, balanced and provide some nutritional benefits. If your dog has any nutritional deficits or special needs, treats with added vitamins, minerals, or functional ingredients like glucosamine for joint health can also be beneficial.
Natural and Limited Ingredients
The best treats for your dog are made from natural, high-quality ingredients. You should avoid treats that contain artificial additives, preservatives or fillers. Additionally, dog treats with limited ingredients are often easier to digest and less likely to trigger allergies or food sensitivities.
Single-ingredient Dog Treats
Simple, single-ingredient treats can be a great option, especially for dogs with food sensitivities or allergies. Popular single-ingredient dog treats include jerky treats for dogs, freeze-dried liver, sweet potato or salmon treats.
Can dogs eat jerky?
One of the most common questions we get is whether it’s safe for dogs to eat jerky. In general, feeding beef jerky to your dog is not recommended for several reasons.
High Sodium Content
Commercial beef jerky is often heavily seasoned and preserved with high amounts of salt. Dogs have different sodium requirements compared to humans, and excessive salt intake can lead to health issues such as increased thirst, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and potential kidney problems. Unfortunately, even high-quality jerky made for humans can contain too much salt for your pup so it’s best to keep your favorite jerky snacks to yourself.
Spices & Flavorings
Many beef jerky products contain spices, garlic, onion powder and other seasonings that can be harmful or even toxic to dogs. These ingredients can cause upset stomachs, gastrointestinal irritation, digestive issues and even more serious, long-term conditions.
Preservatives & Additives
Commercially-produced beef jerky often contains preservatives, artificial flavors and additives such as nitrates or nitrites – all of which can be harmful to dogs (and not so great for humans, either). These ingredients have been associated with various health problems, including digestive issues and potential links to certain types of cancer.
High Fat Content
Some beef jerky can be high in fat, which may lead to pancreatitis in dogs – especially if your dog consumes high-fat jerky in large quantities or on a regular basis. Pancreatitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the pancreas and can be painful and potentially life-threatening.
Jerky Treats for Dogs
All that said, there are jerky treats for dogs that are healthy when eaten in moderation. Mountain America Jerky has three different types of jerky for dogs that are low in fat and 100% meat with no added salt, spices, preservatives, artificial ingredients, fillers or antibiotics. Using only the best cuts of meat for jerky, our jerky treats for dogs are made with only bison, venison or elk and are naturally dehydrated, single-source protein treats your dog is sure to love.
Friendly reminder: It’s important to remember that dog treats should be given in moderation and should never exceed 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. Treats are meant to be an occasional addition to their balanced diet, and overfeeding can lead to weight gain and other health issues. Always contact your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet.