Don’t fret if your dog prefers dog treats to its main food. Them favoring a bully stick over their bowl of gourmet chow has nothing to do with flavor, ingredients, or the brand. Their main food is meant to support a dog’s nutritional needs (i.e. healthy), while their treats are designed with the primary goal of being delicious. Oftentimes, these treats do double duty of providing entertainment and are meant to provide a fun chewing experience as well. Can you blame them for wanting a snack that appeals to their canine instincts?

We’ve all been there; bypassing a wholesome meal in favor of something quick and tasty like pizza or a bag of potato chips. It’s understandable to be more excited about something that delights your tastebuds but is less than a balanced meal. This is why your dog gets more excited about their flavor-packed treats rather than a bowl of healthy (but comparatively bland) main food.

Healthy Dog Treats: The Best of Both Worlds

Knowing the ‘why’ can still make this a frustrating situation for the health-conscious pet parent. You’ve meticulously poured over dozens of nutrition labels and scrutinized ingredients, only for your pooch to half-heartedly pick through their bowl. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy dog treat options that are irresistible and jam-packed with nutrients to supplement their current diet. It may sound too good to be true, but many of the most popular best dog chews are actually healthy!

So what actually makes a dog treat “healthy”? Unlike human snacks where the term usually involves a lot of leafy greens, healthy dog treats tend to center around protein. These treats are often made entirely of a single-source of protein like beef, pork, or hare and can provide well over half of their daily protein requirements in a single serving.

Depending on which part of the animal the treat is made from, they often carry other nutritional benefits that are important in their day-to-day activities. Cartilage-based treats like pig ears or cow tails are a naturally great source of chondroitin, a substance that supports bone and joint health. Hard chews like bully sticks or dog jerky have fantastic plaque-scraping abilities that help keep their gums healthy.

Qualities of the Best Dog Chews

With the healthy trend having fully made its way to pet care, there are tons of healthy dog treats and dog chews on the market. Take a walk down your local supermarket and it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the number of healthy options on the shelves. Labels can be deceiving however, so it’s crucial for dog parents to be able to weed the truly nutritious from the marketing ploys. When searching for a healthy dog chew, the two key things to look out for are the ingredients, and how it’s prepared.

The Fewer Ingredients, The Better

An easy rule of the thumb to remember is that the fewer the ingredient list, the more wholesome the treat probably is. Multiple ingredients often require processing to assemble. This takes the food further away from its natural state and can leave it stripped of its nutritional benefits. Dog treats made with a single ingredient tend to have undergone only minimal manipulation. This means more of its natural goodness is intact and is likely much more nutritiously beneficial.

Pass on Processed Treats

A short ingredient is also great because it means that a chew doesn’t have fillers like wheat, soy or gluten. The majority of fillers used in dog treats have no nutritional benefit whatsoever. So what’s the harm? They can pack on empty calories that needlessly put your dog at a higher risk of canine obesity. When in doubt, pass on the treats that include these. They’re usually processed and full of other undesirable additives like chemicals and preservatives.

Read More: How to take care of your dog?

Simple Preparation Process

But ingredient lists alone aren’t a surefire way to determine whether a dog treat is healthy or not. Take, for instance, rawhide chews. Rawhide is a very popular dog treat that only uses one ingredient. It’s preparation process, however, requires a number of harmful chemicals which renders this seemingly healthy dog chew into a toxic choking hazard.

Finding Healthy Dog Treats That Will Excite

Your dog may never be as excited about their main food as they are their dog treats – and that’s okay! Pet parents can take solace in the fact there is a plethora of healthy dog treat manufacturers that make chews which are both nutritious and delicious. A treat will never be a replacement for a proper and balanced meal, but it certainly can’t hurt to have your dog’s favorite treat be secretly good for them. Discover how easy it can be to turn your dog on to tasty nutrition by exploring Big Lu’s selection of handmade, artisanal dog treats.