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Sam Dobson Writes: How To Choose Healthy Dog Treats

Sunday, March 15, 2015

How To Choose Healthy Dog Treats

I'm a picky dog mom and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I won't feed just anything to my dogs and I would never be caught dead giving them those fake bacon strip treats. I'm just as choosy with treats as I am with dog food and for good reason! My boxer has always had a very sensitive stomach. Let's just say she's susceptible to offensive gas and bad diarrhea after eating anything of poor quality. Yes, I will admit that on occasion I have used Hades's sensitive tummy as validation for being a crazy dog mom. However, I would argue that I don't really need to.

As I said, I'm a picky mom and that's okay. I wish more dog moms were aware of what they were feeding their pups. Just as you should care what your toddler eats, so should you care what your dog eats. Similar to dog food, dog treats come in many shapes, sizes, and qualities. Unfortunately, there are plenty of well known treats out there that are terrible for your dog's health. Many popular treat products on the shelves of the local market are extremely processed with a laundry list of ingredients that I can't even begin to pronounce. So, what kinds of treats have my dog snob approval?

How to choose healthy dog treats

First things first, flip over that package and check out those ingredients. The simpler, the better. For example, each flavor of Riley's Organics Dog Treats contains just 5 to 6 ingredients and guess what, I am very familiar with every single ingredient! There are no crazy chemicals or unnecessary preservatives.

How to choose healthy dog treats
The ingredient list for Riley's Organics Sweet Potato Recipe.

The ingredients themselves are also important to me. Different ingredients have different health benefits, so I opt for treats with certain ingredients. Pumpkin is a favorite of mine and my dogs. Pumpkin can help regulate the digestive system, maintain a healthy weight, and are loaded with lots of important vitamins and minerals. Another fan favorite is coconut oil, which improves skin and coat conditions, aids in fighting infections, and even promotes healthy thyroid function.

More healthy and tasty ingredients to look for include sweet potatoes, apples, and peanut butter. Sweet potatoes are an expert-agreed super food with tons of helpful vitamins and minerals and a great source of fiber. Apples are another great source of fiber and are chock-full of vitamins A and C. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and heart healthy fats; plus it's fun to give your dog a mouthful and watch him lick the air in happiness.

I also try to choose treats that are grain free. If your dog has a sensitive stomach or suffers from itchy allergies, chances are that he may be allergic to grains. The first thing I did when I noticed my terrier was super itchy and my boxer had soft stool was switch to a grain free food. To compliment my dogs' grain free diet, I try to always choose grain free treats.

Finally, you'll want to search the packaging for those tiny little words "Made in..." If the treats in question are not made in the USA, proceed with caution. While we are on the subject, if the treats are labeled as "USDA Organic", it's a slam dunk.

How to choose healthy dog treats
My dogs enjoying a Riley's Organics treat on our trail walk. 

It may seem daunting to try to find treats of this quality, but don't be discouraged. There are actually plenty of nutritious and healthy treats out there. Riley's Organics, as I briefly mentioned above, fit's the bill with all of my criteria (including recipes with all of the ingredients mentioned). I would never promote a product that I would not give to my own dogs. In fact, my dogs have been munching on Riley's Organics like it's their job! But I understand that every dog is unique and what may work for mine may not work for yours. The most important thing is to provide your dogs with a healthy diet- and to give them lots of belly rubs!

As always, consult your veterinarian should you have any questions regarding your dog's diet and nutrition.

*This post was sponsored by Riley's Organics.



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