Health & Wellbeing
5 Fresh & Healthy Dog Treat Alternatives
Copy: Serena Faber Nelson
Pet lifestyle expert Serena Faber-Nelson is the founder of Pretty Fluffy. A contributor to Everyday with Rachael Ray, Modern Dog Magazine, Cesars Way and more; her modern, stylized take on DIY dog treats has seen her recipes viewed millions of times over.
Serena is the author of the go-to dog mom bible, Dog Mama, and the popular dog treat recipe book, Healthy Homemade Dog Treats.
We’ve found 5 fresh and healthy dog treat alternatives to store bought treats perfect for every pooch.
In a world where processed food has become the norm, it’s no wonder our pets have fallen into the same trap.
We now all know that if we fill our bodies with processed junk food and preservative laden meals our health is going to suffer. The same goes for our furry friends.
By making these 5 easy swap outs you can ensure that your dog is getting the freshest – and yummiest! – dog treats that keeps them healthy and happy, inside and out.
Store Bought Buy: Processed Dog Jerky & Treat Strips
Healthy Dog Treat Alternatives: Baked Chicken Strips
Processed dog jerky has gotten a bad rap in the last few years and for good reason. Not only do many of these processed jerky or treat strips have low nutritional content, often the origin of the treat is unknown. As of May 1, 2014, the FDA has received over 4,800 reports of pet illnesses which may be related to consumption of jerky type treats – most of these reports relating to jerky products from China.
For a safe and healthy alternative, you can easily bake your own dog treat strips at home. Simply choose a fresh and free range cut of meat and bake your strips in the oven. You can get started now with our full tutorial for Chicken Strip Dog Treats.
Store Bought Buy: Processed Dental Sticks
Healthy Dog Treat Alternatives: Raw Chicken & Turkey Necks
Dental sticks and chews have become a popular staple in the pet treat industry over the past couple of years. Formulated to be a tasty treat that also helps scrape tartar from your dog’s teeth, they’ve been popular with dogs and owners alike. And they do work – you won’t hear me bashing dental sticks here. I’ve bought and used them many times. However their ingredients are processed and the gummy materials used to hold the product together can actually stick to your dog’s teeth undoing much of it’s good work.
For a yummy, natural alternative your dog will go gaga over, you can’t go past the humble chicken neck. Not only is it a great source of protein, a chicken neck helps scrape away tartar on your dog’s teeth while being gentler on the stomach than most raw bones. If you have a larger dog that seems to gulp down chicken necks in one go – try turkey necks for the same effect.
Store Bought Buy: Canned Fillers
Healthy Dog Treat Alternatives: Natural Peanut Butter
With many popular dog treat toys on the market, along came canned fillers to fill them with. While these canned fillers are often flavoured with natural sounding ingredients (i.e. liver) they are heavily processed to ensure they have a long supermarket shelf life. The best way to think of it is: would you prefer to put cool whip in your body or a freshly whipped cream?
Luckily enough there are a myriad of healthy dog treat alternatives to pop in your dog’s treat ball. My favourite is natural peanut butter – a natural superfood for dogs. A tasty source of protein, natural peanut butter is used to build and repair muscle tissue, while being filled with ‘good fats’ that support a healthy cardiovascular system.
Other great treat ball options include freshly cooked chicken (no bones/fat), mashed pumpkin or you can even make a frozen pupsicle treat by filling it with natural yoghurt and blueberries.
Store Bought Buy: ‘Meaty’ Training Treats
Healthy Dog Treat Alternatives: Fresh Cheese Cubes
When training your dog, it’s great to have bite sized treats to encourage and reward them. The trouble with so many of the supermarket training treat brands is the ingredients are often high in processed fillers and preservatives while being low in nutritional value.
The best healthy alternative is to replace these treats with fresh produce. Options such a fresh cheese cubes, or cooked chicken pieces work the best as they still retain a tasty smell to keep your dog’s attention. Simply pop them in a zip lock bag and store them in a cool spot to keep them fresh for that day’s training.
Store Bought Buy: Milky Bone Dog Biscuits
Healthy Dog Treat Alternatives: Grain Free Dog Biscuits
For a lot of us, one of the first things we buy our dog when we bring them home is dog treats in the shape of a bone. They’re cute and they remind us of the yummy biscuits and cookies we love to eat ourselves. Yet, for a lot of dogs, the grains and ingredients used to make these store bought dog biscuits can cause allergies.
A much healthier option is to choose grain free dog biscuits. Companies such as New York’s Bocces Bakery and Australia’s Treats A la Bark focus on wheat free, all natural dog treats and come in a huge variety of flavours.
If you’re wanting to get adventurous you can also make your own grain free dog biscuits at home. Try one of our dog biscuit recipes to get you started:
HEALTHY DOG TREAT ALTERNATIVES – MAKING THE SWITCH
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when making changes to your own or your dog’s diet.
My handy hint is to live by the 80/20 rule. Just as I try to keep my diet 80% good (fresh & healthy), I allow myself 20% of the time to sneak in some of the ‘bad’ stuff (like processed cakes or french fries!)
The same can apply for your dog. If your dog simply loves a certain store bought dog treat, giving it to them every now and then is relatively harmless. Same goes for if you don’t have time to make your own treats, or you simply run out of fresh produce – a well sourced store bought treat can come in very handy.
If you live by the 80/20 rule, those times where your dog chows down on a ‘naughty list’ food isn’t such a worry as you know that 80% of the time they’re getting healthy, nourishing food.
Has this post inspired you and you want more healthy dog treat recipes?
You can visit our full collection of Dog Treat Recipes here.
Pretty Fluffy is the ultimate lifestyle destination for dog lovers. Thank you for being part of our dog-loving community!
Pretty Fluffy is the ultimate lifestyle destination for dog lovers.
Thank you for being part of our dog-loving community!
Copy: Serena Faber Nelson