We all love giving our dogs treats, but some treats are a lot healthier than others, and some can be downright dangerous to your pet’s health. With so many choices to pick from and an industry that’s always changing, it can be challenging to find a healthy treat that you and your dog approve.
We have picked ten different dog treats to review along with you to help you learn what kind of treats you like. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide where we look closely at dog treats and what’s involved in creating them that might affect quality.
Keep reading for our in-depth reviews of each brand of dog treat, where we compare ingredients, preservatives, packaging, and flavor, to help you make an educated purchase.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites of 2024
|American Journey Beef Jerky Grain-Free Dog Treats
|Cadet Gourmet Duck Breast Dog Treats
|PureBites Beef Liver Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Treats
|Pupford Chicken Jerky Dog Treats
|Orijen Grass-Fed Lamb Formula Dog Treats
The 10 Best Healthy Dog Treats
1. American Journey Beef Jerky Grain-Free Dog Treats – Best Overall
There are tons of healthy dog treats on the market. That said, American Journey Beef Jerky Grain-Free Dog treats are easily one of the best healthy dog treats on the market. They’re made from practically only beef that has been cured with salt and sugar, similar to human-grade beef jerky. It tastes like real meat and has a chewy texture that takes dogs a few minutes to get through.
Because these treats are almost completely beef, they are very high in protein. Even pickier dogs seem to like them, likely due to the meaty flavor.
Plus, these treats don’t make a huge mess. Unlike some other crumbly treats, the chewy texture won’t leave crumbs all over your floor.
2. Cadet Gourmet Duck Breast Dog Treats – Best Value
If you just glance at the Cadet Gourmet Duck Breast Dog Treats, it may not seem like they are very budget-friendly. However, they come in a huge 2.5-pound bag, so the price per treat is very low. The treats are naturally dried, so they will last a while even after the bag is open. Therefore, these treats are the best for the money if you’re willing to buy in bulk.
Plus, the main ingredient is real duck, and the protein content is extremely high. These treats are pretty much only meat, making them exceptionally yummy for most dogs. There are also no artificial colors, fillers, or flavors, making them one of the healthier treats on the market.
Duck is naturally lean, so these treats are also pretty low in fat. Therefore, they’re even a good option for overweight dogs or others on a low-fat diet.
3. PureBites Beef Liver Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Treats – Premium Choice
If money isn’t an object, we highly recommend the PureBites Beef Liver Freeze-Dried Raw Dog Treats. These treats are only beef liver that has been freeze-dried to make it longer-lasting. They only contain one ingredient, which makes them great for dogs with allergies. However, because beef liver is an expensive ingredient, these treats are also pretty expensive.
We love how high in protein these treats are. They’re comparable with the duck treats above, but they have a slightly higher fat content (as beef is naturally fattier than duck). However, the higher fat content also makes them a bit tastier, making them better suited for picky dogs.
These treats are also made in the USA and don’t contain any added preservatives.
4. Pupford Chicken Jerky Dog Treats
The Pupford Chicken Jerky Dog Treats contain only chicken breasts. As the name suggests, they’ve been dried into jerky. They’re a great option for dogs on a restrictive diet or those with allergies. They’re about as limited-ingredient as it gets. Of course, because they only contain chicken breasts, they’re also grain-free.
These treats include absolutely no added chemicals, colors, or preservatives. The chicken utilized is high-quality and made in the USA.
Surprisingly, these treats are easy to break into smaller pieces for training purposes, unlike most other jerky treats. Therefore, while the pieces are bigger, you can stretch them out by giving your dog smaller pieces of them (which is what we recommend, if only because it decreases their caloric intake).
5. Orijen Grass-Fed Lamb Formula Dog Treats
For dogs with allergies, you may need to try the Orijen Grass-Fed Lamb Formula Dog Treats. Most dogs with allergies are allergic to chicken or beef, which these treats are free from. Instead, they’re made only of lamb, though different parts of the lamb are utilized. They’re naturally freeze-dried, so they last quite a while. That said, they also include a preservative, which does make them a little less natural than the other options on this list.
These treats are relatively small and only contain five calories each. Therefore, they’re a decent option for training and more regular treats.
We love how high in protein these treats are, though this is to be expected, as they are pretty much just lamb.
6. Zuke’S Superfood Blend Dog Treats
The Zuke’S 61055 Superfood Blend Dog Treats are a band of dog treats recently bought out by Purina. These treats use all-natural, nutrient-rich greens in their ingredients. No corn or wheat that might hinder digestion.
Our biggest problem with these treats is the inclusion of molasses. Molasses is high in sugar which can lead to tooth decay. It has no place in a healthy dog treat.
7. Blue Buffalo Health Bars Dog Treats
The Blue Buffalo 801857 Health Bars Crunchy Dog Treats feature real bacon and all-natural ingredients. These treats contain plenty of vitamins and minerals and are omega-3 fortified, which can help with brain and eye development and has plenty of other benefits as well. There is no BHA, BHT, or other chemical preservatives.
The thing we don’t like about this product is the packaging. The bars are too large for puppies and even some medium-sized dogs, and the bars break and crumble in the bag, leaving a lot of crumbs.
8. Hill’s Grain Free Dog Treats
The Hill’s Grain Free Dog Treats are a soft treat that’s easy for your pet to manage. There are no harmful preservatives, and they don’t contain wheat, corn, or soy, which can cause reactions in dogs.
We didn’t like that these treats contain peas, which lead to heart disease in dogs. There is also molasses, which is high in sugar and can promote tooth decay. These treats also dry out quickly and break when they do.
- If you are interested in making your own treats, get the Vet approved recipes here!
9. Nudges Steak Grillers Dog Treats
The Nudges 014125 Steak Grillers Dog Treats feature beef as their main ingredient. There are no meat by-products or harmful preservatives. The ingredients are all-natural and provide plenty of vitamins and minerals.
While we were giving our dogs these treats, one of them contracted something called hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HE). We can’t be sure our dog got it from the treats, nor do we know what could be in them, but when we researched further, we saw that a lot of other dogs came down with it as well after eating these treats. Another thing we didn’t like is that they contain chicken, while usually a good thing, some people might buy a steak product because their dog is allergic to chicken. There’s no reference to the chicken unless you read the ingredients. These treats also tend to break apart into crumbs.
10. ORIJEN Protein Freeze-Dried Dog Treats
The ORIJEN High-Protein Freeze-Dried Dog Treats are the last brand of dog treats on our list. These treats feature limited ingredients and only contain what’s necessary for a healthy pet. There is no grain. There are several flavors available, including duck, beef, lamb, and boar.
While we were feeding these treats to our dogs, we noticed they smelled terrible. The smell was very overpowering and would get on your hands. These also come in a small package that goes quickly, especially when these treats are prone to breaking up into dust.
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Dog Treats
Treats vs. Food
Dog food usually has a label that says it’s food and not a treat. It comes in a large bag and is a complete and balanced meal. Treats traditionally come in a small container, and do not attempt to be a balanced meal. Treats are for intermittent feeding and training. These foods are often high in protein, carbohydrates, fat, and sugar. Though treats are supposed to be tasty and given infrequently, we still recommend avoiding sugars where possible, as tooth decay is a leading problem for dogs.
One of the first things that we recommend you do with any brand of dog treat is to look at the ingredients. You don’t want to see any meat byproduct, corn, wheat, or soy. A treat doesn’t need to have whole meat listed as its first ingredient, but it’s better if it does. The higher the quality of ingredients, the more you can give to your pets without adverse effects occurring.
Grain vs. Grain Free Dog Treats
Grain-free is not as crucial in a treat than a food, but if you can find a treat that is grain-free that your dog enjoys, we recommend going with that. Grain can put weight on your dog quickly and it can also cause digestive issues.
Peas are a prominent ingredient in dog food, especially in grain-free dog food, and this includes treats. Peas can cause heart disease in dogs, and we recommend avoiding them at any cost. You will need to be vigilant and watch the ingredient labels as many brands are still reacting to the news and have not yet reformulated.
We recommend avoiding harsh chemical preservatives like BHT and BHA as these chemicals cause adverse health problems for your pet. These chemicals are in our food too and we should avoid them in our diet.
Treat size is important if you have a small dog or puppy. Many treats made for dogs can be quite large and are often very hard. A puppy or small dog will struggle to try to eat these kins of treats. On the other hand, large dogs will have little use for puppy treats. Always keep the size of your dog in mind when purchasing your treats.
Soft vs. Crunchy
Similar to the treat size problem. Some dogs will struggle with treats that are very hard, especially if they have a tooth problem. We recommend keeping an eye on your pet, and if it looks to be struggling, switch to a smaller or softer treat.
There are tons of healthy treats out there for dogs. Our favorite is the American Journey Beef Jerky Grain-Free Dog Treats, which are just beef. They’re very high in protein, making them the perfect treat for most dogs.
If you’re looking to purchase in bulk, the Cadet Gourmet Duck Breast Dog Treats are a great cheaper option. They’re also naturally low in fat, as duck is naturally pretty lean.
Hopefully, one of these treats turns out to be a great option for your pooch. Don’t forget to monitor your dog’s treat intake, as too many treats can lead to weight gain.