There are several purposes that treats for dogs serve, no least of which is for dog training, behavioral work or simply to reward and spoil your dog. But there are two important things to keep in mind: it's better if they're low calorie and are wholesome. Ideally, the best healthy dog treats contain natural and organic ingredients, too.
As more pet owners are becoming conscious of their pets' health and what important role the diet plays, manufacturers too are starting to pay more attention and produce only the best healthy dog treats with organic and natural ingredients, that are low in calories. In 2018, there is a lot more to choose than there was a year ago. In fact, some studies have found that now it's better to stick with commercial healthy treats for dogs than homemade treats because they're nutritionally well-optimized for dogs.
Many dog treats reviews out there prioritize the wrong aspect and choose popular (among pet owners) products over the ingredient quality. But to choose best dog treats that are healthy for your pet, it's vital to pick those with USDA certified ingredients. Through US laws, they inspect products, companies and their practices with strict standards.
Table of Contents
- What Makes the Best Healthy Dog Treats for Your Dog?
- 2018's Best Healthy Dog Treats (all natural ingredients)
- 1 Rocco & Roxie Supply Co Jerky Sticks for Dogs
- 2 Newman's Own Organics Premium Dog Treats
- 3 Zuke's Mini Naturals Healthy Moist Training Treats
- 4 Plato Pet Treats Organic Chicken
- 5 Greenies Dental Dog Treats and Dog Chews
- 6 Wet Noses Organic Dog Treats
- 7 Riley’s Organics – Peanut Butter and Molasses
- 8 Plato Original Duck Dog Treats
- 9 #1 Premium Chicken Jerky Dog Treats
Below we'll discuss more on how to choose the best dog treats that are healthy and we've used tips and advice from veterinarians and guidelines from several studies and University websites to come up with ranking factors for the best healthy dog treats, and after analyzing hundreds of them, managed to find nine options that fit the bill. Here are the top five picks, with more following down below:
|Healthy Dog Treats Brand||Price||Made||Quality||Rating|
|Rocco & Roxie Gourmet Jerky Treats||$$$||USA||A+|
|Newman's Own Premium Organic Treats||$$$||USA||A+|
|Zuke's Mini Naturals Chicken Recipe Treats||$$||USA||A|
|Plato Organic Chicken Treats||$$||USA||A|
|Greenies Dental Treats (not all-natural)||$$$||USA||B+|
* Click on the best dog treats product for more information and prices, or scroll down below for more details and dog treats reviews.
What Makes the Best Healthy Dog Treats for Your Dog?
There are two main things that veterinarians warn pet owners much watch out for when picking the best healthy dog treats: calories and specific ingredients. Just like us, dogs love treats and sometimes we can overfeed them. Because treats for dogs are so small and are gone within seconds, it's much too easy to give too much, which substantially adds to the dog's overall calorie limit and poses some risks.
Caloric content in dog treats
It's best to keep treats at 10% of your dog's daily calories.
This means you'll need to do the math, but only once or twice, as you switch to new dog treats and new dog food. After that, always keep track of what type of best healthy dog treats you use, and how many calories each one of them contains, and how often you've spoiled your Fido. Choosing low calorie dog treats is key, and some – like Zuke's treats, mentioned below – may contain as little as 2-3 calories per their mini treat. For dogs, it's still a reward and a pleasurable experience, no matter how small the treat is.
Don't get confused though – something that may look low calorie isn't necessarily that. For example, many thing that bully sticks, because of how they're manufactured, are low-calorie treats. That isn't so, and this has recently been found in a study by Dr Lisa Freeman, where they concluded that not only do they contain more calories than initially thought, but also some harmful bacteria (Freeman et al. 2013). You must check the official guaranteed analysis of dog treats that you buy to confirm the calorie content.
Consistency of dog treats
“Giving your dog a bone treat might lead to an unexpected trip to your veterinarian, a possible emergency surgery, or even death for your pet.” – Dr Carmela Stamper, DVM at FDA
Certain types of dog treats must be avoided, and in particular anything too hard. FDA has already warned dog owners about the dangers of bone treats and other chews that are very hard. What pet owners forget is that dogs, just like us, can damage their teeth.
This will not only cause future health problems in your dog, but cost you in vet bills and extra teeth care and, in rare cases, can even be fatal to dogs. When looking for the best healthy dog treats, choose soft ones, or those specifically designed for dog's dental health, like Greenies (mentioned below).
Quality of ingredients in dog treats
Last but not least, pay attention to the ingredient quality. The best healthy dog treats will usually have less ingredients than your average dog food brand, with the first being some type of animal meat source. For example, the first best healthy dog treats brand is Rocco & Roxie, and only contains beef as the main ingredient, with the rest being just safe for dogs additives. Other specialized treats, like Greenies, may be specifically designed for dog's dental health, so they will contain a lot more.
Always pick dog treats that are made in the USA. Some other countries, such as China, do not have any strict manufacturing guidelines for pet food manufacturers, thus the treats may not be safe for dogs.
In terms of what to avoid, start with any artificial additives and agents that are known to cause health problems in dogs. For example, food dyes are unnecessary when choosing the best healthy dog treats and so is glycerin (a preservative), because some studies have shown their dangers. Also, while some dog treats brands still use these, BHT and BHA preservatives may be harmful, according to some experts. That said, some other preservatives can and should be used to avoid spoilage, but only as long as they have been proven to be safe for dogs. Vitamin E and Vitamin C are some of those few that are allowed.
“The most common artificial antioxidants used in the pet food industry are ethoxyquin, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). Commonly used natural antioxidants include tocopherols (vitamin E), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), citric acid, and rosemary.” – Dr Katharine Hillestad, DVM [source]
With the above in mind, you should be able to pick your own set of best healthy dog treats. But if you need a place to start, we've gone through hundreds of treats for dogs available on the market, scanned their ingredients, calorie content and consistency, and picked out the nine best healthy dog treats that fit the bill.
2018's Best Healthy Dog Treats (all natural ingredients)
Anybody looking for the best healthy dog treats that are USDA organic certified should start with these first. Our editor Samantha has previously reviewed this company and their famous product in our extensive treat review video.
Rocco & Roxie Supply Co make their dog jerky sticks treats from high-quality beef, chicken, or turkey that they slow-smoke for 15 hours, which develops a flavor and texture that they guarantee all dogs will love.
These best healthy dog treats are made in the USA and do not include artificial preservatives or common fillers, such as soy, wheat, corn, and gluten, that are found in many regular dog treats. Each bag of these gourmet dog treats contains approximately 25 sticks that are 7” to 8” long, which may be given whole or broken into pieces for smaller breeds.
CRUDE FAT 4.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 2.0% max
MOISTURE 25.0% max
As you can see from the reviews above, customers agree that even the pickiest of dogs love any type of organic dog treats, but are even more eager to please when offered Rocco & Roxie Supply Co treats over others. Although the price tag is a deterrent for some, others insist that these best healthy dog treats are worth the cost on account of the value of the product and these being USDA organic certified treats. Customers appreciate the fact that these natural dog treats do not leave the typical smell and grease on their hands, and, unlike other treats, the jerky sticks actually smell very pleasant according to most.
One concern that a small amount of customers have is that the ingredient list includes both garlic and sodium nitrate, both of which are said to be toxic for canines. A spokesperson from the company assures readers that the amount of each is minimal (less than a few ounces of sodium nitrate per one hundred pounds of meat and less than 1% garlic per batch). He also says there are mixed reports as to whether or not garlic is okay for pets, ensuring that a small amount is not thought to be a threat regardless.
Healthy dog treats reviews from pet owners: “I have purchased at least a dozen different treats over the last few years. Not to say my dog is picky but he does have his favorites. These have become his favorite treat. He knows where the treats are located in my kitchen cabinets…“
Organics Premium Dog Treats are heart-shaped, crunchy organic dog treats that come in a wide variety of flavors and sizes, including Turkey and Sweet Potato, Salmon and Sweet Potato, Peanut Butter, Chicken, and Cheese.
Boasting a blended recipe of organic and natural ingredients, Newman’s Own Organics all natural dog treats are made in Canada and contain no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. These are one of the healthiest dog treats you can find on the market, and they contain no wheat, soy, or corn, and are 70% organic.
CRUDE FAT 8.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 6.0% max
MOISTURE 10.0% max
From the dog treat reviews above, you can see that customers agree that these premium dog treats are the perfect size for dog training (depending on the dog), although some customers choose to break them in two (pre-perforated) pieces when used as such. Dogs with digestive problems seem to eat these gourmet dog treats with no issue, which makes them a great option for canines with sensitive tummies.
As with many products, price comparisons confirm that pet owners can find these fourth best healthy dog treats for a better price on Amazon and a few other online retailers than in a lot of brick and mortar pet stores. As with many other pet-related products, it's easy to spot reviews where dog owners say that their dogs would not eat these healthy pet treats, but that group seems to be very small for these specific pet treats. Other than that, we could not find any other negative feedback.
Healthy dog treats reviews from pet owners: “I can whole-heartedly recommend these treats! Both our dogs love them, and although they can't voice it I'm sure they are thankful for healthy sustenance! Though we personally don't use it, I would highly recommend checking out…“
Third one on the list of best healthy dog treats is from Zuke's, yet another famous company that so far have been striving to keep their customers very satisfied. Variety is key when it comes to Zuke’s Training Treats.
At only 3.5 calories per treat, these tiny low calorie healthy treats for dogs are made with real meat which is great when used for your dog training purposes. Zuke's moist nugget treats are made in the USA, and the company prides themselves for sticking to their all natural dog treats label: they use no wheat, corn, or soy, but only natural wholefood ingredients.
CRUDE FAT 7.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 2.0% max
MOISTURE 30.0% max
2.3 kcal/treat, 3,251 kcal/kg
From the link above, you can read that many customers say that these gourmet dog treats work perfectly when used to train their dogs, and, because of the small size, they are easy to transport when going on walks or to the dog park. These grain free dog treats are said to last a long time, making the small price tag more than reasonable. Many customers point out that, when not sealed correctly, Zuke's natural dog treats will dry out and lose their moist texture; therefore, always be sure to seal the bag tightly!
Dog owners considering these third best healthy dog treats must know that Zuke’s company has recently been acquired by the conglomerate Nestle Purina, which raises concern for some pet owners. However, Zuke's ensures their customers and say they still work independently, and will stay true to their history of all natural dog treats and high levels of customer satisfaction by continuing to create the exact same products many dog owners are used to.
Healthy dog treats reviews from pet owners: “My wife and I purchased these treats one day when we had run out of our normal treats. They are small, our dogs love them, and are much better quality than many commonly available store brands. Still, I had some questions about the ingredients…“
The fourth option as the best healthy dog treats on this list, Plato's treats deserve to take either one of these spots above. These low-calorie, organic dog treats are a very healthy option for dog owners looking to train their pets.
These healthy treats for dogs are made of over 90% chicken, include vitamins, antioxidants, and all-natural ingredients, and contain no artificial preservatives, flavors, or genetically modified organisms. These USDA organic dog treats are available in both 6-ounce and 16-ounce packages.
CRUDE FAT 30.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 1.0% max
MOISTURE 15.0% max
ZINC 100 mg/kg min
VITAMIN E 100 IU/kg min
ASCORBIC ACID 50 mg/kg min
As noted in the reviews you can find using the above link, majority of customers love the minimal and highly regulated ingredient list of these gourmet dog treats, which ensures their pet is getting one of the highest quality treats available. Dog owners who have pets with an intolerance to gluten or have picky palettes in general have had the most success with using this fifth best healthy dog treats as opposed to most other products on the market.
Although the price is relatively affordable and seems acceptable to most pet parents, some customers recommend breaking every doggy treat into two pieces to get even more value per bag. A few customers have expressed their concerns about their dog refusing to eat these all natural dog treats, and some canines also had stomach problems after having the treat, including vomiting or gas. However, these cases seem to be very rare. Other customers also mentioned that the crumbly texture of these healthy dog treats can make a mess and that their dogs would rather play with these pet treats instead of actually eating them.
Healthy dog treats reviews from pet owners: “I am always looking for healthy treats for my Wheaten and the fewer ingredients the better. I thought I found the best product when I found Waggin Train Chicken Jerky at Costco. Then I read the reviews on Amazon and, well, it scared the crap…“
Greenies as our fifth one of the best healthy dog treats has also been rated on the second place by our editors as overall best treats for dogs. Greenies Dental Dog Treats and Dog Chews are the #1 choice by veterinarians for dental chews for dogs as well as one of the healthiest dog treats available for purchase today.
It's important to mention that these are not all-natural dog treats, and are made for a specific reason – dog's dental issues. Greenies are generally safe and easy for dogs to digest and provide a simple, low fat way for dog parents to maintain dental health in their companion(s). These are also often vet recommended dog treats.
Greenies healthy treats for dogs relieve pet owners from having to search for homemade dog treats recipes due to their rigorous testing and quality control. These doggy chews serve as a way to promote healthier teeth and gums, fight tartar, plaque, bad breath, and add vitamins and minerals to a dog’s daily diet. These second best healthy dog treats are available in jumbo, large, regular, petite, and tiny “styles” and in five different size packages (6, 12, 18, 27, and 36 ounces).
CRUDE FAT 5.5% min
CRUDE FAT 7.0% max
CRUDE FIBER 6.0% max
MOISTURE 15.0% max
CALCIUM 0.5% min
PHOSPHORUS 0.4% min
NIACIN 14 mg/kg min
3,119 kcal/kg, 26 kcal/treat
As you can see from the reviews above, most dog owners agree that canines love these breath freshening all natural dog treats, and the resulting clean teeth and overall dental health keep them coming back for more. Many pet parents feel the price (which is considerably cheaper on Amazon than anywhere else) is easily justified by the benefits of using the product on a daily basis.
If you search online, you can also find veterinarians commenting on the great health of the teeth and gums of dogs who are regularly given this product. As with any other dog treat, pet owners should be sure to supervise their dog while he or she is chewing on these low calorie dog treats to ensure they are not swallowed whole.
Be aware that while most of the customers are very happy with these healthy dog treats by themselves, there's a lot of recorded proof of poor batches of these dog treats being sent out with white worms infesting the bag, with the last review coming from May, 2015. We suggest calling the manufacturer first, and always checking the FULL package before using these treats with your dog.
Healthy dog treats reviews from pet owners: “I have been feeding our dogs Greenie bones since they first came out and we have NEVER had a problem. I have German Shepards, Dobermans and medium sized hound dogs. They all love their GB's and I find that because our Dobie…“
The sixth best healthy dog treats choice is another USDA certified option on this list. You can order these dog treats in three flavors – cheddar, peanut butter, and pumpkin. And what better food for dogs is there than one made with human-grade ingredients? No corn, wheat, artificial flavors, preservatives, dairy or animal by-products went into the preparation of these dog treats from Wet Noses. Each pack contains 14 ounces of crunchy treats.
The pumpkin variant smells of cinnamon and ginger, and is helpful for easily-agitated stomachs. It contains no eggs or dairy that commonly trigger allergies and gastrointestinal problems in dogs. Dog owners who have spent fortunes on their dogs’ allergies are understandably wary over pet food. Thus, it’s a great relief for them to find a treat that’s both well-liked by their dog and works well with their dog’s systems.
Crude Fat 6%(min);
Crude Fiber 5%(max);
Moisture 9 %(max)
Customers say that their dogs love Wet Noses Organic Dog Treats. It also makes a lot of difference that they feel safe with this organic product. Since this product is made in the US and it’s organic, pets and pet owners alike are happy.
Dogs of various breeds love this biscuit, so it is a handy one to bring during training. There have been no reports of allergies or adverse reactions. There were very few dogs, however, that didn’t like the treat and preferred other brands. Overall, this is one of the best healthy treats for dogs available in pet supply and online stores now that's also USDA certified.
Healthy dog treats reviews from pet owners: “I tried these out while I was visiting my daughter in Wisconsin. My dog has food allergies and this is the first treat that she has been able to eat in addition to her $94 a bag prescription dog food. This organic treat is her favorite out of all treats she has tried and she can have these as long as they work!…”
Riley’s Organics has again come up with a great food option for dogs and ranks as the seventh best healthy dog treats choice on this list. Like other Riley’s products, this is made in the US and certified organic by the USDA. These finger-licking peanut butter biscuits are made from the finest human-grade ingredients. There are no wheat, corn or soy ingredients, which are often the source of allergies.
These bone-shaped treats also do not contain any preservatives, artificial flavoring, artificial coloring, sugar or salt. Pet owners who live healthy lifestyles and practice healthy eating habits are very satisfied to find a product for their pets that is aligned to their own food choices. Their canine companions can now enjoy healthy and organic snacks, which are not only tasty but also a good source of carbohydrates, minerals, and proteins.
Pet owners say that their dogs have a few treats that work for them with a long list of brands that cause a host of disorders and allergies. They feel fortunate that Riley's Organics – Peanut Butter and Molasses dog treats are safe and well-loved by most dogs. They have a pleasant odor that more dogs find appealing and great crunchy texture.
Not all pets and pet owners who tried these seventh best healthy treats for dogs went nuts over them, though. There were those who would have preferred a treat without molasses, but admit that this is a convenient alternative for time consuming homemade treats. The biggest selling points of this treat are its organic and natural ingredients and its obvious appeal to dogs. Buyers also consider it safe, coming from a trusted brand.
Healthy dog treats reviews from pet owners: “I'm fortunate enough to work in a dog-friendly office. Lots of folks keep treats at their desk and the woman sitting next to me always has a bag of Riley's. She is paws-down the most popular doggie-destination in the building….”
Plato has produced another meat-based treat that is all-organic and all-natural. This one is made from duck meat, brown rice, natural preservatives and citric acid. It is fortified with vitamins E and C as well. Duck meat is a great protein alternative for dogs that react to other meats, such as chicken. This food product contains 30% crude protein, fats, fiber, iron and zinc.
These best healthy treats for dogs are great for snacks, rewards and training bait. They are definitely one of the best organic dog treats out there, too. Most customers who bought this product had dogs that couldn’t take chicken or other meat products without itching and losing hair. This non-GMO, organic and duck-based treat is also cheaper than many of the best healthy treats for dogs.
CRUDE FAT 25.0% min
CRUDE FIBER 0.05% max
MOISTURE 15.0% max
IRON 220mg/kg min
ZINC 100mg/kg min
VITAMIN E 100IU/kg min
ASCORBIC ACID 50mg/kg min
3.49 kcal/g, 29.09 kcal/treat
Dog allergies and other disorders brought about by the wrong food result to high vet costs, so buyers of Plato Original Duck Dog Treats were generally very grateful to find these on the market. Compared to fish treats, this variant does not have any smell, so it’s great for keeping inside the pocket when it’s being given as a surprise reward or used as a training treat.
It may not be a good idea to stock up on several bags, as the main issue with this eight best healthy dog treats choice is that a few pet owners noticed some molds formed in the older bags. They may also become hard and dry the longer they are stocked, instead of soft and chewy like granola. Aside from that, pets just loved these treats, and owners feel assured that they’re nutritious and safe for their dogs.
Healthy dog treats reviews from pet owners: “My dog underwent allergy testing a month ago to determine why he's was so itchy and losing hair. He's now having allergy shots and the vet recommended we limit his diet to duck….”
Nothing could possibly be simpler, or meatier, than this treat from Emmy's Best. It's the last but not least option on our best healthy dog treats list that is made of only one ingredient – USDA-certified, Grade A chicken breasts. These thin strips had been dehydrated, preserved naturally, and packed with the natural goodness of pure meat for dogs to relish. They make for a great incentive for dogs undergoing training, or for supplementing their diet. This is a product of the USA and guaranteed free of additives or preservatives.
One bag contains 8 ounces of thin chicken strips, with a money-back guarantee if the pets don’t love it. Customers liked this bacon-like treat for their dogs. They describe the treat as crunchy meaty strips that they often break in half or smaller depending on the dog’s size and appetite.
CRUDE FAT 2.0% (min)
CRUDE FIBER 2.0% (max)
MOISTURE 25.0% (max)
Since #1 Premium Chicken Jerky Dog Treats are a one-ingredient product, it’s much preferred by owners of picky dogs and dogs that react to a lot of things. This frees owners of having to worry about identifying ingredients that may cause adverse reactions in their pets.
Some buyers who expected the meat to be “jerky” were quite disappointed to find the strips to be crunchy. After undergoing shipping and handling, the strips are often broken into chips and pet owners don’t like this very much. An improvement in this area will definitely earn the nod of most buyers. Generally, customers liked the idea of a treat made of a single ingredient that has been certified safe by regulating agencies.
Healthy dog treats reviews from pet owners: “Our pup is very picky, but loves this chicken jerky. He's the first dog we've ever owned that won't eat anything you give him. He only likes all-natural food, which lucky for him is all we're going to give him, so “naturally” he loves this chicken jerky…”