Last Updated on 6 days by Dr. Shannon Barrett
What are the healthiest dog treats, according to veterinarians?
If you want to give your dog healthy treats without the guilt, we’ve compiled 18 Vet approved options.
These can be divided into homemade and commercial dog treats.
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Homemade Dog Treats That Are Healthy
Many pets want the action of being given a treat instead of the treat itself.
Therefore, if you act like green bean is a delicious food, your pet is more likely to believe you.
Try offering your dog some of the raw fruits and vegetables below.
Many pets love them; you can mix them into their regular diets to help them feel fuller.
- You can cut them into thick slices and bake them at 350 F until crispy or at a lower temp for longer to keep them chewy
- You can also bake a traditional sweet potato and give them some of the delicious insides of this potato
- This delicious root vegetable is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Calories => Medium sweet potato: 112 calories
- Canned pumpkin is readily available in most grocery stores. Just make sure to purchase canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling.
- Pumpkin is high in fiber and low in calories, making it an excellent option for dogs who need to watch their weight.
- It also has digestive benefits and can help with diarrhea and constipation. It can also be helpful with those dogs with anal gland issues.
- If your dog is new to pumpkin:
- Start with 1 teaspoon twice a day for small dogs
- Start with 1 tablespoon twice a day for large dogs
- Pumpkin can be given as a treat by itself or mixed with your dog’s existing food
Calories => 1/2 cup of Libby’s canned pumpkin: 45 calories
- Raw baby carrots are a crunchy, low-calorie treat packed with vitamins and minerals.
- The crunch works better than most dental treats to clean your dog’s teeth.
Calories => 3/4 cup of raw baby carrots: 40 calories
- These small, tasty treats are packed with antioxidants and flavor
- You can freeze them to keep them fresher longer and then put them in a treat dispenser instead of commercial treats. As he plays, the berries will thaw.
Calories => 1/2 cup of Blueberries: 40 calories
- These are one of my favorite low-calorie and low-fat treats that can help fill your dog up without adding extra weight.
- They are also a great source of fiber and vitamins.
- You can purchase fresh or frozen ones; make sure they do not contain salt.
- Use them as individual treats or add them to your dog’s food.
- If your pet does not like them fresh, consider the french style green beans without salt. Many of my owners have successfully added these to their pet’s food.
Calories => 1/2 cup of raw green beans: 15 calories
- Apples are a tasty and healthy treat that is high in fiber and antioxidants.
- Remove the seeds and core before giving them to your dog.
- If your dog does not like them raw, you can cut them into thick slices and bake them in the oven to create apple chips.
Calories => 1 medium apple: 95 calories
- Bananas are a good source of potassium and may help with muscle function in dogs.
- They can be sliced and frozen for a refreshing summer treat.
- I like mashing them into my dog’s favorite West Paw toys and putting them in the freezer. Once frozen, it is a great interactive toy to keep him entertained.
Calories => 1 medium banana: 105 calories
- Watermelon is a hydrating and low-calorie treat high in vitamins A and C.
- Make sure to remove the seeds before giving it to your dog.
Calories => 1/2 cup of watermelon: 23 calories
- Most dogs love peanut butter, which can be a healthy treat in moderation. Just make sure to choose a brand that does not contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs.
- Look for more natural peanut butter that does not contain sugar. Use this as an occasional “treat” since it is not a low-fat food.
- You can place a very thin layer of it on the inside of a treat dispensing toy and then put it in the freezer to make it extra challenging for your pup!
Calories => 1 tablespoon: 94 calories
Cooked Chicken Breasts
- A Cooked, boneless skinless chicken breast with no seasoning is a lean protein that can be a healthy dog treat.
- It can also be mixed into other recipes or used as a training treat.
- Make sure not to add any seasoning and not to use a rotisserie chicken.
Calories => 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (172 g): 284 calories
- Broccoli is a nutritious, low-calorie treat high in fiber and vitamins. Just steam it to make it easier for your dog to digest.
- If your dog likes broccoli, start with small amounts (1/4 cup) a day at first, as some dogs may get gassy if given too much at first.
Calories => 1/2 cup: 15 calories
- Cucumbers are low in calories, and dogs like the crunchy texture. Our last shepherd only wanted them peeled, so if your dog does not like them, consider peeling them for pickier eaters.
- You can cut them into bite-sized pieces for treats or mix them into your dog’s kibble.
Calories => 1/2 cup: 8 calories
Commercial Dog Treats That Are Healthy
- These delicious treats are always one of my first recommendations when owners ask about healthy dog treats.
- They are made from natural fruits and vegetables and contain no artificial colors or flavors.
- Since most of these treats are only 8 calories each, they are a healthy choice for overweight dogs or on a weight management plan.
- Just stick with the ones that are only fruits, not the ones that have meat flavoring.
Calories => 8 calories per treat
Riley’s Organic Dog Treats
- These delicious treats are made with wholesome, organic ingredients like fruits, vegetables, and herbs that provide antioxidants, dietary fiber, and essential vitamins.
- No artificial colors or flavors are present in Riley’s Organic Dog Treats.
- They come in several great flavors, such as pumpkin or apple.
- You can purchase them in large or small bones; however, I recommend the small bone size for dogs of all sizes to keep the calories on the lower side.
Calories => 6-7 calories per treat for the small bones (depending on the flavor)
Calories => 55-65 calories per treat for the large bones (depending on the flavor)
Clyde Dog Treats
- Clyde Dog Treats are made locally in Portland. They source local ingredients and are all-natural, organic, and non-GMO.
- They have a variety of flavors, including blueberry, pumpkin, and banana.
Calories => 12-15 calories per treat (depending on the flavor)
Your Dog’s Kibble
- Using your dog’s kibble as a treat can be a convenient and cost-effective way to reward your dog.
- Kibble is also a good option because it is formulated to meet your dog’s nutritional needs, so you can feel confident that you are not giving your dog an unhealthy treat.
- To use your dog’s kibble as a treat, simply portion out a small amount of it and offer it to your dog as a reward for good behavior.
- You can mix the kibble with other healthy treats, such as small fruit or vegetables to add variety. Just be sure to adjust your dog’s daily food intake accordingly to prevent overfeeding. The advice is the same if you are feeding fresh dog food.
- You may have seen these treats in your veterinarian’s office.
- Lean Treats for Dogs have been around for several years and are soft and low in calories.
- They contain no added sugar, cornstarch, or artificial preservatives and are low in fat and calories.
- Most dogs don’t realize they get a “lean” treat because they are pretty tasty!
Calories => 7.2 calories per treat
Zuke’s Mini Naturals Treats
- These come in a variety of flavors. I like the Peanut Butter & Oats or Chicken Recipe.
- These treats are great for training treats because they are small but pretty smelly, which dogs love.
- They are soft treats, so they are better for picky eaters. As we know, not all dogs like crunchy dog biscuits!
- These also work well for puppy treats due to their small size.
Calories => 2-3 calories per treat (depending on the flavor)
These are a few suggestions for offering your pet healthy alternatives when you want to treat them.
If your pet has any weight problems (underweight and overweight), please check with your veterinarian to rule out possible causes.
If your pet has dietary restrictions, discuss giving any new food with your Vet.
What Ingredients Should I Look for in Dog Treats?
There are several ingredients that you should look for when selecting healthy dog treats:
- Fruits and vegetables: Look for treats that contain whole fruits and vegetables, as these can provide essential vitamins and minerals.
- Whole grains: Look for treats that contain whole grains, such as oats or brown rice, as these can provide fiber and other nutrients.
- Limited ingredients: Look for treats with limited ingredients, as these are less likely to contain artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors. This is especially important if your dog has a food allergy. Check the bag and look for ingredients that trigger your dog’s food allergy.
- No added sugars: Avoid treats that contain added sugars, such as corn syrup or molasses, as these can contribute to weight gain and other health issues.
It’s also important to consider the size of the treats and the calorie content, especially if you are trying to manage your dog’s weight.
Many owners are over-serving their pets by giving them 8-10 daily treats instead of 1 or 2. Calories can add up fast.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1) Can I Give My Dog Treats Every Day?
Generally, treats should not make up more than 3-5% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.
If you give your dog treats every day, it is essential to reduce the amount of their regular food to avoid weight gain.
Additionally, it is vital to choose treats that are low in calories and healthy rather than giving your dog treats that are high in fat or sugar.
It is also a good idea to speak with your veterinarian about the appropriate number and type of treats to give your dog based on their needs and health status.
2) Are milk bone dog treats healthy?
Milk bones are not considered a healthy treat for dogs because they are high in calories and have little nutritional value.
While they may be tasty for dogs, they do not provide many essential nutrients that dogs need to stay healthy.
They are often made with low-quality ingredients such as corn, wheat, and soy, which are not exceptionally nutritious for dogs.
These treats do not provide many vitamins, minerals, or other essential nutrients for a dog’s health.
These low-quality treats are often coated with various artificial flavors and preservatives, which can harm a dog’s health if consumed in large quantities.
While giving your dog the occasional treat as a reward is okay, it is essential to choose treats made with high-quality ingredients and formulated to meet dogs’ specific nutritional needs.
3) Are grain-free treats bad for your dog?
Grain-free treats can be a healthy option for dogs if they are made with high-quality ingredients and do not contain any potentially harmful additives or preservatives.
It is important to read the ingredient list and nutrition information on any treat you give to your dog and to choose treats appropriate for your dog’s size, age, and activity level.
However, it is worth noting that many veterinarians and pet nutrition experts do not currently recommend grain-free diets.
This is because some grain-free diets may be deficient in taurine, which is an essential amino acid for heart function.
It is always a good idea to consult with a veterinarian before making any significant changes to your dog’s diet, including switching to a grain-free diet.
Your veterinarian can help you determine your dog’s best diet based on their needs and health history.
4) Should I get my dog dental treats?
Dental dog treats are designed to help clean teeth and freshen breath by mechanically removing plaque and tartar through chewing.
However, many dental treats are high in calories and may contribute to weight gain if given in excess.
Additionally, some dogs may swallow dental treats whole rather than chewing them as intended, reducing their teeth-cleaning effectiveness.
It’s important to use dental treats as part of a comprehensive oral care plan for your dog, but be mindful of the calorie content and monitor your dog’s chewing behavior when giving them dental treats.
For instance, many healthy treats mentioned above are around 10 calories each.
Pedigree Dentastix Chews for Toy/Small Dogs are 21 calories each.
If you want to give your dog dental chews or treats, look for those approved by the Veterinary oral health council.
The information in this article is for general purposes only and is not a substitute for advice from your veterinarian. Any reliance you place on such information is strictly at your own risk.
Dr. Shannon Barrett brings an exceptional blend of academic excellence and professional expertise to the world of veterinary medicine. With a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Western University of Health Sciences, where she graduated with honors, and dual Bachelor degrees in Biological Sciences and Psychology, her depth of knowledge is extensive. A member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. Barrett's insights and contributions to pet health have been featured in leading publications such as Rover, MarketWatch, and Newsweek.