The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Treats
Have you ever walked in to a pet store and found yourself staring at the vast wall of treats for your dog, not knowing which one to pick? We made a hitchhiker’s guide to treats to help you navigate your way around the wonderful galaxy of treats. First tip, don’t panic…
In no particular order, we’ll describe the kind of treats we carry and we will explain the benefits and possible downsides, if there are any.
Raw bones are great treats because, well, they are raw and they are bones. These chewy meaty bones provide hours of chewing for your dog or cat and they clean their teeth while they eat it! Another interesting fact to know is that raw bones are often much more economical AND long lasting than buying bully sticks for your dog to chew on. For more information on feeding raw bones, check out our blog post on bones here!
The downsides of feeding raw bones are very few. Raw bones could be messy around the house and also, it may last too long. If you are looking for small treats to give your dog often or to use as training treats, there are better options than raw bones. To help with this, you could choose to give your dog a meaty bone outside or on the patio, and then bring the bone inside the house only after the meat has been cleaned off. To use bones as a reward, you could give your dog his or her favourite bone after a training session or a long walk.
Tripe is one of our favourite things to feed our dogs and cats. Tripe is the stomach lining of ruminant animals, most often cows, lamb, or buffalo. They are a great addition to meals as a digestive aid and as a densely nutrient packed goodness!
- Proline: Helps maintain muscles and joints as it is required for cartilage and collagen production. It also helps the immune system and wound healing.
- Glutamic Acid: aka “brain food”, they are important for message transfers within the brain and helps metabolize sugars and fats required for high physical activity.
- Aspartic Acid: Helps the immune system and detoxifies body cells. They aid in antibody production and they are a generator of cellular energy and brain cells.
- Alanine: Helps regulate blood sugar levels
- Leucine: Promotes muscle recovery after exercise.
- Glycine: Important in blood quality and haemoglobin.
- Arginine: Contributes to a healthy vascular and circulatory system.
Aside from them, tripe is also filled with probiotics that help digestion and Omega 3,6, and 9 fatty acids!
If tripe has any downsides to it, it would be the smell. Tripe has a very distinct smell that people often find not so appetizing but hey, dogs love them! Tripe comes in raw ground forms or as dehydrated bits to use as treats!
We often try to avoid sweet potatoes or yam in dog food. This is because the high carbohydrate and sugar content, if fed every day, can be detrimental. These high fiber vegetables as treats on the other hand, can work wonders.
Sweet Potatoes and Yams are good for dogs with constipation or diarrhea as the fiber helps to regulate their digestive system. They are also low in calories so you can afford to feed it more often than your average meat treats. Dogs with allergies to certain proteins will also enjoy the benefit of having a non-animal sourced treat!
The downside of these veggie treats are that a small number of dogs may not care for them because they aren’t meaty. If this is the case and you want your dog to like them, you can rub some of their favourite treat on it for the smell, or try Crump’s liver powdered sweet potato treats!
One of the most popular treats among dogs and also one of the most healthy, is the salmon treats. Salmon treats come in a variety of forms. Some are ground whole salmon, some are salmon fillets, and some are just salmon skin treats.
Salmon’s high Omega fatty acid content helps the immune system, skin and coat in dogs and cats. Many people add salmon oil to their pet’s food and feeding salmon treats is just another way to get some more omega oils in to their diet! Almost no dogs dislike the taste of salmon and they munch them right up. Most salmon treats also come in easy bite sizes or are easy to break apart to use as training treats. Salmon has also been a popular protein to feed for dogs with food allergies.
Downsides to salmon treats are very few.. Some people may not like the salmon smell. Other than that, salmon treats tend to have a bit more calories than vegetable treats like sweet potato treats so owners should take care of how much salmon treats they are feeding to their dogs, as with any other treats made with meat.
Don’t let us sway you with all the good things about salmon we just talked about. Other fish are great too, such as herring, pollock, cod, or anchovies!
Liver and Heart Treats
When you are shopping at a natural raw pet food store like ours, you will notice a lot of ‘organ’ treats. The treat wall may be filled with treats made from elk liver, buffalo heart, turkey liver, pork heart, and so on. If you are new to feeding real meat treats to your pets, then these may be quite a bit of a different selection than you are used to. You may be looking for the biscuit that looks like a bone or little wraps made with hide. Let us tell you, organ treats are much, much healthier than any biscuit or hide treat out there.
Liver is the organ that filters toxins from the body, but they don’t store them. Liver is actually one of the most nutrient dense organs in the body! Here is a list of all the goodness your dog gets from eating liver:
- Vitamin A – aids digestion, keeps sex organs healthy, and is a powerful antioxidant.
- Folic acid and Vitamin B – helps fatigue, mental ability, nerve health, and prevents anemia.
- Iron – necessary for blood production, brain function, regulation of body temperature, and more.
* Liver is very sensitive to cooking, and to extract the maximum amount of its benefits, raw liver should be fed. Most liver treats are baked at high temperatures and they lose their nutritional value. Make sure you look for liver treats that are freeze dried or dehydrated.
- CoQ10 – Necessary for the basic function of cells and regulating the heart’s rhythm. This is very beneficial for older animals.
- Minerals – High amount of selenium, phosphorus, and zinc.
- Collagen and Elastin – Important for joint health.
The downsides to these awesome dried organ treats? If you haven’t noticed a pattern, again, there isn’t much… They come in different shapes and sizes and so if you are looking for a small, uniform shaped treat for training, these may be too inconsistent in size for you. Organ treats are also not as cheap as biscuit treats, but that’s because it is 100% goodness with no fillers like wheat or other grains!
Feet, Wings, and Trachea
Feet, Wings, and Trachea! What do they all have in common? They are all treats that are loaded with glucosamine and chondroitin! These dehydrated treats are a natural way to feed your dog some joint lubricating treats. Even if your dog is not old or suffering from joint pain, prevention is the most important factor in the onset of arthritis in old age or joint related injury. Aside from the joint healing and protecting aspect of these treats, dogs also love to chew on them. They are a great chew treat that will last anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes depending on the dog.
The downside to these treats may be that they look icky? Chicken/Duck feet and wings and Beef trachea are also slightly more oily compared to other bully type chews but that won’t stop your dog! They will love it even more!
Exotic Animal Treats
By exotic animals, we mean animals like Kangaroo, Camel, Ostrich, Rabbit, Buffalo, or Venison. These animals are so novel, that most dogs with food allergies do not react to these proteins because they are so new! If your dog suffers from allergies and cannot eat proteins such as chicken, beef, fish, and so on, these treats are the right treats for you and your dog.
Most treat companies who make treats with exotic animals recognize the need to stay pure and natural. Many companies that are in the business of novel proteins will only use that one protein – this helps give pet owners a peace of mind and give their pets a peace of stomach!
The downsides to exotic animal treats is that they are hard to find in a variety of forms. For example, we have beef treats that are freeze dried or dehydrated, liver, heart, tendons, hooves, trachea, tripe, and so on. Exotic proteins are often much more difficult to come by as they are unavailable for a lot of suppliers.
This is a very broad category that also encompasses some of the types of treats we already talked about. Freeze Dried Treats are one of the best treats because to make them, you don’t need to add any fillers and they retain nutrients better than dehydrated treats. If you walk in to a pet food store and you find yourself having a hard time finding high quality treats, look for freeze dried treats as they are almost guaranteed to be without any additives. This is compared to biscuits and other chewy treats.
Biscuits need carbohydrates to bake them so companies will often use wheat, rice, or barley flour which your dog does not need. Chewy treats often have glycerine or other artificial agents added in to keep it soft and chewy. Keep in mind though, not all treats can be freeze dried. If we were to freeze dry duck feet instead of dehydrating it, it would crumble and fall apart because freeze dried treats are weaker in structure than dehydrated treats.
The downsides to freeze dried treats is that they can sometimes crumble. If you pick out an older or mishandled bag of say, freeze dried beef liver treats, you may get home to find that a lot of the freeze dried liver cubes have been crumbled in to powder. This happens very rarely though, and most packages let you peek inside through a clear window on the bag.
If You Still Can’t Decide..
If you are still having trouble deciding, grab a treat, flip the packaging to the back, and check out their ingredients list. This should help you figure out for yourself which treats are good for your dog and which are not. Ironically, sometimes learning for yourself is better than trusting the pet food store staff. We are honest here at True Carnivores and instead of making the decision for you and saying “this is the best one for your dog!”, we will help you decide and tell you about the pros and cons of each kinds of treats.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to ask us or better yet, come in and take a look at our treat galaxy yourself!
-The True Carnivores Pack