There are many types of dog treats, mainly the meat based treats, biscuits and bone treats. Meat based treats include the jerky and meat stick. Jerky is often air dried, freeze dried or oven dried. Meat stick is usually mixed with other ingredients, so it is soft and moist. Dog biscuits look like kibble, the main ingredients are carbohydrates, mixed with meat and fruits / vegetables. Bone treats can be real bone or bone shaped dental treats.
When you buy a dog treat, the first thing you should look is the ingredients. It is best to choose something make of simple and human graded ingredients without artificial colour, flavour and chemical preservatives. Many dog owners do not care about the ingredients but just buy something their dog likes, they would rather choose something made of poor quality meat, artificial flavour and colours. This may affect dog health in the long run. The quality of the treat is often reflected in the ingredient list.
Secondly, you need to choose a treat that is suitable for your dog. Many people like to feed bone treats, but if your dog is a fast eater, bone treat is not suitable. If your dog swallows pieces of bone without chewing, it may cause indigestion and even worse, damage the digestive tract.
Air dried or low temperature oven baked bones are less likely to shatter into small shape pieces and are safer to feed. The best time to feed bone treats is 1-2 hours after meal so the dog won’t be too hungry and eat too fast without chewing. You should always supervise your dog when feeding bone treats and never leave your dog with the bone alone.
Some bone treats are not made of real bone, they are bone shaped dental treats made of other ingredients. For example, rawhide bone is known to be an unhealthy treat as it is bleached and treated by large amount of chemicals. Some dental bone treats are made of flours, dogs may have indigestion and produce large amount of stool eating these treats. Other dental treats are easily broken down into small pieces and when the dog swallow them, it may cause choking.
Thirdly, think of the purpose of feeding dog treats. Do you want to use it for training? Then choose something that is soft, small and low in calories. If you want to use it as dental treat, feed hard jerky to small dogs and hard dental treats, Himalayan cheese treats, real bone (neck bone, tail bone, thigh bone) to medium to large breeds. You need to monitor the feeding amount as well, many dogs get overweight because they eat too many treats!
There are also functional treats. Other than being tasty treats, they also have special functions, such as strengthening the joints, improving skin and coat condition, helping digestion, or supplementing with other nutrients (vitamins, antioxidants, etc). It can save you the hassle of feeding these supplements separately.
In general, dog treats are the love of our dogs, they are irresistible. They not only make our dogs happy, but are also useful in training, interactive play, killing time, improving dental health, or providing additional nutrients to our pets. Feeding treats can also improve the bonding and obedience of our dogs. However, there are so many choices in the market, you really need to choose carefully so your dog can eat happy and stay healthy.