Back when I was backpacking across Himalayas, in the middle of my climb on Mount Everest, I noticed that my dog could use a quick snack, so I got Zuke's out and… No, that's not what happened, although I wish that would've been the truth. In reality, my Jack Russell is an extremely active pet, so occasionally I'd like to give him healthy treats in between meals as a quick reward for doing something. Those are Zuke's Mini Naturals dog treats.
I discovered Zukes dog treats after I started training my dog. They can quite possibly be the most perfect dog training treats: healthy, delicious, perfect size, no side effects, and dogs will do absolutely anything for one piece of this tasty dog's heaven. Great addition to some good dog foods.
Now, before we go any further, let me say that Zuke's are currently the most popular dog training treats out there. And for a very good reason!
I would like to start off the research with the company's profile – Zuke's Treats – because I truly believe that while this is still a business of making money, people involved are truly making a difference with setting up various Dog and Cat Cancer Funds and otherwise supporting the pet community.
Manufacturer: Zuke's Treats
Out of love and respect for the company, we begin with a little history.
During a hike in 1995 (this time for real), Patrick Meiering realized that his dog Zuke was looking a little tired. He broke off a piece of his energy bar and tossed it to Zuke, and Zuke perked up almost instantly. That’s when it hit Patrick that pets need healthy, all-natural treats just like we do.
Patrick realized that when he himself ate junk food that had little to no nutritional value, he usually didn't have enough energy. When he made healthier choices and ate more natural foods, he felt a whole lot more energetic and just better in general. This sounds old news today, but wasn't like that back in 1995.
It has been an essential part of the Zuke’s philosophy ever since – to formulate their treats with only natural ingredients that provide the specific nutrients that our pets need. They offer a healthier option for pets as well as focusing on the energy they need to keep up with us.
Zuke's is an American company based out of Durango, Colorado, with almost all USA sourced grains, meats, vegetables and fruits. For more details on where does the company get the produce from, their human grade policy and whether they had any dog food recalls, see our Q&A section below in this review with answers directly from Zuke's themselves.
Key Specifications of Zuke's Mini Naturals Dog Treats
- #1 Best Seller: 1,500 positive reviews on Amazon!
- The most perfect, low-cal, healthy treat for dog training.
- Made in the USA: Meats, fruits, grains and veggies sourced in the US, too.
- Completely healthy: No artificial colors, flavors or by-products.
- Includes wholefood anti-oxidants: and no wheat, corn or soy.
- Delicious: Dogs love the taste and the semi-moist texture.
- 4 great flavors: Chicken, Peanut Butter, Salmon and Wild Rabbit.
- Low cal: Less than 3.5 calories per treat.
- No added sugar or sweeteners: Perfect for diabetic dogs.
- Suitable for puppies: or any other dog of any age and any breed.
Full Zuke's Mini Naturals Dog Treats Review
Zukes dog treats have been part of my canine's diet for a long time. In the past, I've tried (or rather my dog did) a variety of different Zuke dog treats, but the favorite ones are by far Zuke's Hip Action and Mini Naturals. I'm going to focus on the latter today, as I already feel like an expert of this particular dog product.
There is no real story behind how we started buying Zuke's treats regularly. I discovered them one day on Amazon, did my research, read customer reviews and after making my first 4-pound bag purchase (the smaller ones aren't worth it, in my opinion), me and Sammy haven't looked back since. Now with TopDogTips.com focusing more on dog food analysis, I'm sure I'll get a chance to write other Zukes dog treats reviews for you guys.
There's also not that much to say about them from the technical standpoint. All I know is that they work, my dogs love them, they really are healthy and worth the price. I will try to sum this up nicely for you in the next two paragraphs.
Zuke’s mini naturals dog treats have a semi-moist texture that dogs really love. They are made without the use of artificial flavors, colors or any by-products. They also contain wholefood antioxidants to help your pet maintain a healthy lifestyle with nutrient-rich turmeric, rosemary and cherries. One treat comes with less than 3.5 calories, which helps your dog sustain a healthy weight.
You can choose out of four different flavors, and every Zuke dog treat will be packed with the taste of real salmon, peanut butter, chicken, or New Zealand's wild rabbit. I mostly use Chicken ones, although other dog owners report Peanut Butter being the most liked. Treats themselves are about as big as a pea; they are soft and moist.
Now with that introduction out of the way, let's focus on what matters.
If you take a look at the ingredients list of Zuke's treats down below in this review, you'll notice that compared to other dog treats, Zuke's actually have less stuff in their product. Those are mostly natural ingredients which are always a better choice as opposed to regular dry biscuits full of grains and other fillers.
I'm sure the benefits of feeding your dog a natural diet don't need to be mentioned for the 100th time, but dog owners report improvement in their dog's coat, skin and digestion. This is expected, as some of the most common allergy issues in dogs are associated with grains-based diets.
Allergies can manifest in strange ways including ear infections and respiratory problems. The all-natural stuff like Zukes dog treats can aid in the effort to help keep your dog’s coat shiny and beautiful while also making sure they have a non-itchy, problem-free skin. Feeding your dog natural treats may also help with digestive issues like gas, constipation, and diarrhea.
Supposedly – just like with all the Paleo diet craze for humans – natural diets provide food for dogs that is similar to what an animal would eat in the wild. That means wild dogs would need to catch prey in order to feed themselves.
In that scenario, the prey would not be filled with wheat, or corn, or any other one of the many number of fillers that typical dry dog biscuits are made of. It would be filled with real meat and nutrients that the dogs need to survive. Likewise, a natural diet, including natural treats like Zuke's, will provide your dog with the nutrients they need and not just stuff to fill them up. You do get what you pay for!
Another positive aspect of these particular treats, in my opinion, is that they are small enough to be used several times a day without giving your pet a calorie overload. Because they are only 3.5 calories each, they are great treats to use for training your dog.
Nowadays, they often serve me as an excellent choice for reinforcing Sammy's good behavior or any other time that I may need to feed my canine numerous treats in a short amount of time.
There are no real negative sides to these treats; however, one can be picky about the fact that they dry out very quickly if you don't store them as suggested. If you do let them dry out, they become crumbly and dogs don’t seem to like them quite as much (mine still does).
There's a solution to dried out treats though, which I point out below. But first, here is how you can prevent them from drying out in the first place.
To prevent drying, follow the instructions. If you keep them in the resealable bag that they come in and follow the directions, they will stay fresh for quite a while. In fact, they will most likely be gone by the time they begin to get dry. But as long as you make sure the bag has got a good seal and you press the air out before sealing it, you shouldn't have any problems whatsoever.
If your Zukes dog treats got dry, here's what you can do. As soon as you see them getting dry, take a small piece of paper towel. Soak it in water for a second and then squeeze all the water out so that the piece of paper towel is moist. Drop that moist paper towel into the bag, push out all the air out, and reseal the bag. This will solve the problem, but you'll have to change the paper towel after a while.
Q&A with Zuke's
This Q&A has been taken by one of Amazon's Top 100 reviewers, Ciaran; here is the original source.
Q: Your treats are made in the USA, but are the ingredients ever sourced overseas?
A: We are still a “Made in the United States” company, with all of our meats, fruit and vegetables sourced from the USA (with the exception of the Wild Rabbit and Venison, both of which come from New Zealand). Our Salmon is Pacific Wild Caught whenever available and USA farmed (Pacific Coast) when Wild Caught is not an option. Our ingredients are all grown, processed and packaged in America. I would like to assure you that we here at Zuke's would never put anything harmful into our treats. Our pets are our family, and we treat them as such!
Q: You have done a great job at not being part of recent recalls – do you have a recall history?
A: Our company has been in business since the year of 1995, and has never had a single recall because of the methods we use to test our products. We test them throughout manufacturing and then do another one, final test before packaging it. All the treats are then packaged and sit in the warehouse until the test results return from the lab confirming their safety. Only after we receive the green light do our products get shipped. I would like to assure you that we here at Zuke's take our treats very seriously.
Q: Could you tell me a little bit more about your meat content? I know it's not human-grade, but what specific inspections are made by the FDA for the meat content?
A: All of our meats come from facilities inspected (and regulated) by USDA. The meat is handled the exact same way meats for human consumption are being handled. It is shipped in frozen blocks to our manufacturer and is kept frozen until our product is produced. New Zealand's wild rabbit and venison are inspected at the port of entry.
Amazon customers rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars
The product is currently the #1 best selling dog treat on Amazon. Check out almost 1,500 raving customer reviews on their Amazon page.
“Good treats!” (read the full review): “Our puppy loves these little treats! They are small enough to give him a few at a time, but I like to cut them up even smaller and use them for training. They are tiny as is (about the size of a pencil eraser), but can easily be cut into quarters for reward-based training…” 5 out of 5
“My dog Bobby loves these treats” (read the full review): “When my dog is happy, I'm happy 🙂 As a pet owner, I feel comforting that it's made in the USA. In addition, it's important to me that the meat grade is handled like for human consumption and that this company is NOT part of any recalls. That is good enough for me and I can feed my dog with a peace of mind. I want my buddy…” 5 out of 5
“My sheltie love these treats” (read the full review): “My 30 lb shetland sheepdog is picky. She's fed a high-quality food, and she only gets the best treats. No “doggie junk food” to be had in our household, no corn, no by-products, no treats pressed and colored to look like mini T-bone steaks (unfortunately, I don't eat as well as she does…. Doritos can pass as a meal for me). She's been known to spit out treats that didn't meet her standards…” 5 out of 5
Nutrition of Zuke's Mini Naturals dog treats
Real meat is always the number #1 ingredient in Mini Naturals treats, with other ingredients being wholefoods and antioxidants. The list excludes all artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, by-products, sugars, sweeteners, corn, wheat and soy. This is the ultimate healthy treat for your pet which is also surprisingly tasty.
Ingredients: (Wild Rabbit, Pork, Duck, Salmon, Peanut Butter, or Chicken), Ground Rice, Ground Barley, Malted Barley, Gelatin, Vegetable Glycerin, Tapioca, Natural Flavors, Cherries, Sunflower Oil, Lecithin, Salt, Phosphoric Acid, Rosemary, Turmeric, Sorbic Acid (a preservative), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Mixed Tocopherols.
Calories: Duck– 3.0 kcal per treat, Pork– 3.0 kcal per treat, Wild Rabbit – 2.81 kcal per treat, Salmon – 2.87 kcal per treat, Peanut Butter – 3.13 kcal per treat, Chicken – 3.19 kcal per treat.
Feeding guidelines: To be fed to pets as a healthy treat, perfect for dog training. Do not substitute treats for a healthy diet.
Guaranteed dog food analysis (for Chicken flavor): Crude Protein – 15% min, Crude Fat – 8% min, Crude Fiber – 2% max, Moisture – 30% max.
Contains no sugar – good for diabetics! I don't think Zuke's are manufacturing any products specifically for dogs with diabetes, but Zuke's Mini Naturals dog treats in particular contain absolutely no added sugar and are only 3.5 calories per treat. This sounds like the stuff for diabetic dogs, and Zuke's themselves confirmed that these would be very suitable in such cases.
Quick answers about Zukes dog treats
If they are so natural, how are they being preserved? All of Zukes dog treats are being preserved naturally, using salt, sorbic and phosphoric acids. Salt is used as a natural substitute for chemicals that are normally on the ingredients list of other, regular dog treats. Without it, the treats would get moldy. Keep in mind that a little salt is not harmful for dogs and in fact is part of a well-balanced pet diet.
How should you store them? There's no need to refrigerate Zuke dog treats. If you put them in the refrigerator, condensation that will accumulate inside of the bag due to temperature change will in fact ruin the treats and they will spoil quicker. Store the bag in a dry, dark place in room temperature and away from direct sunlight. Make sure to let all the air out before sealing the bag.
How long is the shelf life? If you didn't open the bag yet, these treats should last about 2 years, which is their shelf life. The “Best By” date is always included on the bag. But will your dog allow this stuff to last that long?
Are they good for bigger breeds? One thing to remember is that during training, dogs usually don't care about the amount you give them. It's all about the actual gesture of giving a treat for an action performed. So regardless of your dog's size, these will work great!
VIDEO: Taste test of Zuke's Mini Naturals dog treats
Kirby, the dog in the video, apparently was very impressed with Zukes dog treats. There was a press conference afterwards where Kirby shared his/her ideas on how to improve the treats even further, but due to foul language used by the dog, the video was cut short.
So are they worth it?
If you haven't picked up on the vibe of this review, then let me tell you in secret – Zukes dog treats in general are great, and whichever product from their shelf you decide to go with, I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed. I'm still a big fan of the company, and so is Sammy.
To me, the biggest selling point of this dog product is that I hate looking at a package of dog food and see a list of ingredients that I can’t pronounce and have no idea what they are or what they are used for. Usually, these aren't something you want your dog to consume. Reading down through the list of ingredients of Zuke’s stuff takes no time (see above) and you're able to understand everything that's in it.
In terms of Zuke’s Mini Naturals dog treats, they can easily be the ultimate dog training treat and definitely one of the best treats in general. Yes, I used to recommend them and still do to all of my friends and other dog owners that I run into. You can try the smaller bag, but ultimately, I would advise to get the 4-pound bag for the peace of mind. It's cheaper and it won't go to waste, trust me on this.
I really love the fact that they are made in the USA with USA sourced ingredients, and appreciate this a whole lot. Knowing that everything at the factory is regulated according to modern standards, and especially that meat is being handled in the same way it is handled for people's consumption, is very important to me as a pet owner.
I always try, whenever possible, to get my K9 organic and natural food instead of grabbing a bag of cheap brand in Costco. I do love the effects that natural and organic foods and treats have on my pets. So if giving your dog treats that are made with natural ingredients and no fillers is important to you, then I can't see how you can ever be dissatisfied with products made by Zuke's company (and I'm definitely not payed by them!)