8 of the Best Dog Treats, According to Experts
Whether you want them to go fetch or do a trick, your loyal canine deserves kudos for all that they do (even if it’s just being really cute). The best dog treats are a way for you to reward your pup for stellar behavior and may even provide a fun little supplement to their everyday diet.
To help you uncover the top picks for tail-wagging treats, we checked in with a few experts about what to know before buying, and most importantly, which varieties to grab now if you want to keep your pup’s healthy lifestyle on track.
How to Choose the Right Dog Treats
When it comes to dog treats, they should be functional. You’re either looking to pamper your pet for their good behavior or you’re using these savory bites to add more to their diet, Dr. Katy Nelson, a senior veterinarian at Chewy, tells Mental Floss. “Perhaps [the treats are] dental chews to help clean their teeth, treats [with glucosamine] for joint health, or small, high-value rewards used while training,” she says, noting that treats should also match your pet’s size, age, overall health, weight, and taste.
In terms of choosing the right dog treats, Dr. Ivana Crnec, DVM, at Veterinarians.org says that it’s important to consider three factors before you invest in anything: a dog’s diet and any special nutritional requirements; the treat’s flavor and texture; and the ease of use and price.
According to Crnec, it would be a bad idea to offer a diabetic dog sugary treats, whereas a canine on a weight-control regimen likely needs low-calorie treats. The flavor is a matter of the dog’s preference, so as a pet parent, you want to be mindful of what your pup nibbles most on when it’s time to snack. The best texture, meanwhile, depends on the dog’s ability to chew, as puppies and seniors generally need softer treats, while adults can munch on crunchier options. “Finally, factor number three is the ease of use and price. These depend on the owner,” Crnec says.
Whatever you choose as a treat for your canine, Nelson says to remember that treats do contain calories and should be calculated into your pet’s daily caloric intake, especially if your pet is one of the more than 60 percent of American pets that are considered overweight or obese. Below, we curated a list of eight fine treats to fetch now.
The Best Dog Treats To Buy Now
1. Best Dental Treats for Dogs: Greenies; $15
Give your dog something to really smile about with these treats, which are designed to fight plaque and tartar buildup for canines, as well as clean down to the gum line and freshen breath. There are options for all life stages and breed sizes, too. According to Nelson, they’re “nutritionally balanced, with easy-to-digest natural ingredients plus vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.” She also notes that they have lots of different varieties, including weight management options and limited-edition seasonal flavors (like pumpkin spice). Crnec recommends Greenies as well, noting that these treats are safe, efficient, and feature a seal of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), a group of trained veterinary dentists and dental scientists who have confirmed the treats work toward their intended purpose.
Buy it: Amazon
2. Best Treats for Small Dogs: Bil-Jac Little Jacs; $17
Your small dog still deserves a big treat. According to Tim Wall, the category manager for dog treats at Pet Supplies Plus, these soft and chewy treats from Bil-Jac are the “perfect rewards for small dogs because [they’re] made from enticing chicken liver and are a perfect size.” In addition, there are no traces of soy or gluten meal in the ingredients, and they come in a fully resealable zipper pouch, so storage is easy.
Buy it: Amazon
3. Best Treats for Large Dogs: Blue Buffalo Health Bars Natural Crunchy Dog Treat Biscuits; From $5
Your large dog needs a treat equal to his size. Crnec recommends Blue Buffalo’s Health Bars because they’re crunchy and made with premium ingredients; you won’t find any corn, wheat, or soy, and they’re free of artificial preservatives. Better still, they come in a practical, resealable bag and are available in a variety of flavors that will get tails wagging, like bananas and yogurt; pumpkin and cinnamon; and the oatmeal, barley, and bacon blend pictured above.
Buy it: Amazon
4. Best Jerky for Dogs: Pur Luv Jerky Dog Treats; $12
If your dog loves chicken and gnawing down on some quality eats, these jerky treats will be love at first bite. Crnec gives them a paw-up because they are “healthy, long-lasting, and support your dog’s natural urge to chew.” These chewy bits are also high in protein and low in fat, and according to the brand, contain no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Buy it: Walmart
5. Best Raw Dog Treats: The Honest Kitchen Purely One 100% White Fish Fillets; $14
Raw dog treats are great for owners looking for a healthy, single-ingredient offering to toss to their pooch when they’re being well-behaved. Made from wild-caught, sustainably sourced white fish, these filets from Purely One are just dehydrated fish skin, and Amazon shoppers who have tried them say they don’t contain any bones at all. (Several users recommend soaking these filets in water before feeding them to older canines, for easier chewing.) The human-grade snacks are also light, crispy, high in protein, and low in calories. Crnec recommends this all-natural dog treat because it’s a “single-ingredient treat option that is simply dehydrated and easy to snap in half.”
Buy it: Amazon
6. Great Grain-Free Dog Treats: American Journey Grain-Free Oven Baked Crunchy Biscuit Dog Treats; From $3
So long as your pup doesn’t have a peanut allergy, these grain-free dog treats made from dry roasted peanuts could be another good pick. “These treats have a crunchy texture and peanut butter flavor dogs love. They are made with chickpeas, free from artificial flavors, and great for on-the-go or anytime treating,” Nelson says. Additionally, these nibbles are free of fillers like corn, wheat, and soy, and don’t have any poultry by-product meal, artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives in the ingredients list. (And if you want to try non-peanut varieties, you can always opt for the chicken, lamb, turkey, or salmon versions.)
Buy it: Chewy
7. Best Training Treats for Puppies: Wellness Soft Puppy Bites Lamb & Salmon Dog Treats; From $5
Looking to reinforce your puppy’s good behavior with a well-deserved reward? Wall notes that these soft puppy bites from Wellness are “[the] perfect rewards for dogs of all ages, plus they contain DHA, which is especially important for puppies.” The bite-sized treats (which are available in soft and crunchy varieties) contain no meat by-products or traces of corn, soy, or wheat gluten, and are utterly free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.
Buy it: Amazon
8. Best Treat to Give For Fun: The Lazy Dog Cookie Co.’s Pup-PIE Dog Treats; $7
Whether it’s time to celebrate a dog’s birthday (or adopti-versary) or you simply want to brighten their day, these pie-inspired treats are a fun way to break up the usual routine. Not only that, but each slice is made from simple and nutritious ingredients like oat flour, molasses, peanut butter, beets, and spinach, and topped with a dairy-free coating. (The sprinkles are actually multi-colored sesame seeds, too.) Wall thinks these treats make a great gift for special canines because they’re “all natural and delicious!”
Buy it: Chewy