We love to spoil our pets, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by offering them something special to eat or chew, in addition to their daily kibble. Have you ever asked yourself why you buy the treats that you do, or why your dog likes some treats and not others? Chances are you know your pet's tastes better than anyone, so you probably have a good idea what they might like, and what will be appropriate to offer. Your dog may already show an affinity for certain flavors or textures, or he may have some habits or behaviors that need to be considered while you shop. Dog treats aren’t just a way to show your love, they can also be great tools for training and reinforcing good behavior.
So what are some things to consider when seeking the perfect treat for your pet?
The two main considerations when shopping for dog treats and dog chews should be your dog’s personal preferences in regards to flavors and type of treat, followed closely, or in conjunction with your pet’s physical conditions and lifestyle. Treats should constitute no more than 10% of your dog's diet to prevent them from packing on extra pounds or developing other digestive complications. There are so many different types of treats available in today’s market, making the decision on what to offer your pet can be a daunting task. To help you sort it all out, let’s begin by talking about options in dog bones and dog chews.
Natural Dog Bones and Chews
The treats and chews pets desire most will offer great taste, enticing aroma and an appealing texture or composition that makes your dog want to chew. What could be better than natural products like real animal bones, jerky and other meaty treats to appeal to your dog’s instinctually carnivorous tendencies. Natural bones and chews are processed just enough to seal in that mouth-watering flavor, typically either simmered in their own juices or smoked for your pet to crave! There are hundreds of natural dog treats on the market today, and many are suitable for dogs of all breeds, life stages and sizes. Just as with any other type of treat, you’ll want to consider the size of your dog and his chewing habits or capabilities before you make a selection. For example, if your dog is a strong chewer, you’ll want something that doesn’t break or splinter easily, like an antler dog chews. You probably won’t want to offer your chihuahua a smoked beef femur, but maybe a smaller product like a duck foot, jerky slice or lamb knuckle would make his day. Some of the more popular choices in this category also include antlers, bully sticks, pig ears or cow ears, rib bones and cow hooves.
Rawhide, in any of its forms, is a classic chew for canines. You can find it in a variety of shapes, sizes, types and flavors. Rawhide chews help to exercise jaws, and help clean teeth naturally, and they hold natural appeal to dogs who appreciate the scent, taste and texture they present. You’ll find braided hide, rolls, knotted rawhide bones, and compressed rawhide that may also feature a flavored basting or infusion to make your pet’s mouth water. Offer large breed dogs large knotted bones, rolls or braids as they will be less likely to present a choking hazard, making your pet work and chew smaller bits off slowly. Smaller dogs may be offered chips, or smaller, thinner versions of knots and rolls.
Edible Dog Chews
Edible chews such and Nylabones, Z-Bones, Greenies and Everlasting Treats are starch-based and highly digestible. Infused with intense flavor, these compressed chews taste great, and many are also dental chews that promote oral health with benefits including cleaner teeth, healthy gums and fresh breath. These chews are often formulated grain-free to prevent food allergies and digestive issues common in many pets.
Dog Biscuits and Cookies
Classic dog biscuits provide the crunchy texture dogs love, and they promote healthy teeth and gums. Biscuits are offered in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, flavors and formulas, including low-fat options to keep pets trim, and all-natural, gourmet dog treats with wholesome, beneficial ingredients and fortified with vitamins and minerals. A variety of soft treats are also available which are great for smaller dogs, seniors, and pets that simply prefer soft textures over crunchy. Smaller bites, whether crunchy or tender, make excellent training treats offered as rewards for good behavior.
Homemade Dog Treats
You can even choose to skip the pet store all together if you have the time and skill to create your own magnificent homemade treats! Using ingredients as simple as whole wheat flour, peanut butter, chicken broth, livers and honey, you can make wholesome, healthy and delicious snacks right in your own kitchen. Create special summertime treats to keep your pet refreshed, too! Make them more fun with bone shaped cookie cutters or dog treat molds to let your pet know they were made special just for canines.