This article has been reviewed by Connor Knight Pet Food Nutrition Specialist
Many vets have their own preferences with regard to recommended dog treats.
It's important to understand that in most cases, vet-recommended treats for dogs are based on opinion, their own personal philosophies, which schools they attended, and what their professional experience has taught them.
The pet food industry is also constantly evolving, and thus the recommendations of vets may follow that trend.
In this article, we'll discuss what we as pet owners often hear veterinarians recommend to dog owners as the best choice of healthy dog treats.
This by no means that you should choose these treats without doing your own research or consulting with a vet yourself.
Some may encourage you to feed your pet homemade dog treats, while others may suggest a combination of the three.
What your vet recommends should be based on your dog's age, breed, weight, size, and medical conditions.
With thousands of dog treat options on the market available to purchase today, there's no shortage of choice.
Many claim to be “vet recommended,” but it's difficult to know if that is true.
It's up to you to do the due diligence to find out which treats come genuinely recommended and which may have paid for endorsements from licensed veterinarians.
I hope this list will give you a good head start on finding the best choices for your Fido.
Which Dog Treats Do Veterinarians Recommend?
All Natural Vet Recommended Dog Treats
More vets these days prefer to advise owners to feed their dogs whole foods for treats over commercially produced treats.
Commercial dog treats oftentimes contain many fats, fillers, and chemical flavor enhancers. Whole foods are just natural foods that have not been processed, like raw vegetables.
Contrary to popular opinion and according to research, dogs are actually omnivores; not carnivores.
Thus should be fed a variety of meats, fruits, vegetables, and some grains.
Treats are often used for training or appeasement purposes. Because of the frequency with which dogs consume dog treats, it is better to consider low-calorie, nonfat options.
What should you avoid?
Produce and lean meats provide these standards.
But, before recommending foods you should feed your dog, let’s start with the crucial list of what you should not feed your dog.
The following ingredients have been proven to be poisonous and unsafe for dogs' health:
- Macadamia nuts
- Yeast dough
- Raw, undercooked meat, bones, and eggs
- Cow-derived dairy
What is good for dogs?
Moving on to the ingredients in dog treats you should feed your canine, here are a few vet-recommended options that dogs tend to love:
- Oat-based cereal
- Sugar snap peas
- Green beans
- Peanut butter (make sure it does not contain Xylitol)
- Dehydrated sweet potato
- Baked chicken or turkey (without the skin)
READ MORE: 10 Human Foods That Are Dangerous To Dogs
Commercial Vet Recommended Dog Treats
As with natural treats, there are some commercially produced treats that owners should avoid.
For example, dog treats manufactured in China, just as dog toys, can be harmful to your dog's health due to the differing food production standards there.
Rawhide should be avoided as well. While it is not toxic, it can damage the intestines or cause choking if not chewed properly before swallowing.
Dr. Deborah Shores, DVM recommends the following single ingredient dog treats (and she wrote about it in
this article if you want more details):
- PureBites Mini Trainers Freeze-Dried Raw Beef LiverDog Treats
– These treats are great because their limited ingredient profile, beef liver. Most dog foods and dog treats add synthetic Vitamin E and “Mixed Tocopherols” which are preservatives to keep the treats
from oxidizing and to save money.
- Stewart Freeze Dried Dog Treats Made in USA – Many vets love Stewart's brand, and these dog treats are made with real duck liver and contain zero fillers or synthetic fats.
Finally, you can also opt for making your own homemade dog treats.
It takes time, effort, and – sometimes – more money, but depending on how good of a dog treat recipe you get, these DIY options can be healthier for your dog, and also be better for your pup's specific condition, age, potential diseases and more.
Here are free videos of dog treat recipes.
Overall, there are a few factors that can make some treats healthier than others.
The most important ones to consider are:
- No filler
If you can find all-natural, organic dog treats with no filler, high in protein, and with the least amount of ingredients in them that are also vet recommended – you have a winner!
Specialized Vet Recommended Dog Treats
Usually, dog treats can also be made to cater to a dog’s specific age, breed, weight, or medical requirements.
However, we aren't sure how much truth there is to that, and it's possible that it's simply just a marketing gimmick.
The opinion of vets on this is divided, and we've covered more of this in our article about the truths of dog food reviews.
Nevertheless, if those are the options you'd like to explore, here are a few:
- Coco and Luna Urinary Tract Treats (for dogs suffering from urinary tract issues)
- Old Dog Cookie Company Diabetic Treats
- Old Dog Cookie Company Arthritis Relief Treats
Always remember to consult with your vet beforehand.
If your dog suffers from a medical condition, it is important to consult with your vet personally before feeding any type of dog treats, whether they are natural or just standard commercial ones.
Treats for dogs with diabetes are not going to be the same treats you give to a dog suffering from chronic kidney issues, for example.
You should also consult your vet if you have any questions pertaining to your dog’s age and size with regard to diet.
Big, older dogs are going to have vastly different nutritional requirements and limitations than small-breed puppies.
When feeding your dog treats, remember that love doesn’t have to come in the form of food.
Moderation is key. We've previously discussed the risks of diabetes, overweight dogs, and how obesity is a very prominent epidemic among dogs today.
Sadly, doggy treats oftentimes add to the problem by a large margin.
If your pooch is a picky eater, don’t give in to feeding things you know are unhealthy but which the dog likes to taste just because it's easier.
This is the equivalent of feeding your child or yourself junk food every day.
Sure, it tastes better than a salad, and it's quicker to get, but it can have serious consequences over time.
While pet treats are a useful tool for training dogs, it is possible to overdo it.
Dogs can also become too reliable on treats, and in effect, they can actually train you to give them treats in exchange for decent behavior.
Make sure your dog is not forming an unhealthy dependence on treats.
FULL GUIDE: How To Make Homemade Dog Treats