Whole Dog Journal's Blog July 19, 2017

Dog Treats: Store-Bought or Homemade?

Posted at 04:48PM - Comments: (30)

A friend just posted an article online about the launch of a brand-new pet treat manufacturing company in California – that is, a California-based subsidiary of a Chinese pet food manufacturing company, Gambol Pet Group. The company is already the largest provider of private-label pet treats for Walmart in the U.S. and Canada.

This is bound to set off a predictable avalanche of negative comments about Chinese manufacturers of dog foods and treats – which I, myself, strenuously avoid, due to concerns about lax controls over the food industry in China. However, this U.S.-based subsidiary will have to follow U.S. laws and inspections, and, in our opinion, really shouldn’t be regarded with any more or less suspicion than any pet food or treat manufacturer.

That said, I’m not a big fan of any private-label treats; in fact, the only dog treats I’d ever buy are from well-established companies with a long-standing perfect record of safe manufacturing. I look for companies I know and trust – and scrutinize the ingredients list, anyway, for any low-cost or “filler” type ingredients, artificial colors and flavor, and sugar and other palatants.

Truth be told, I don’t like buying treats at all; I use real food as treats, instead. Most dogs strongly prefer this, anyway, and will work far harder and more enthusiastically for tiny cubes of roasted or canned chicken, cheese, hot dog, roast beef, ham, etc.

Fake bacon...Why?

But the treat industry is so huge, people must really like buying them, for reasons that escape me. So many treats – virtually all the ones you can buy in big-box stores and supermarkets – contain sketchy ingredients and loads of artificial colors. Fake bacon? Why not . . . bacon?

Do you buy commercially made treats for your dog? Why?


Comments (30)

Lots of great comments here. Just want to add something I learned several years ago from a dog nutritionist. If your dog doesn't finish his food in one sitting he probably doesn't like it! If you feed him tasteless kibble or any 'feed grade' food, he's eating it because that's all that's on the menu and it beats starving. Human grade food is NOT expensive! They only eat twice a day and are much smaller than you! Wish someone would have told me that years ago when I used to believe all human food was bad for dogs. My vet bills are a fraction of what they used to be.

Posted by: LoveDogsMoreThanPeople | July 31, 2017 1:53 PM    Report this comment

After learning the truth about the commercial pet food industry, I began cooking for my cats and dogs twenty years ago. For those of you who feed fish in any form, you would be wise to educate yourselves about the toxicity of fish. I personally consider fish one of the most toxic natural foods. Even if given to me free, I would not feed it to my animals.

Posted by: Doris Muller | July 25, 2017 1:45 AM    Report this comment

My dogs eat only Acana food. It's made in Alberta with wild ingredients. For treats they get dried lung bits. We call it "Doggie Crack"--dogs will do anything for it! I don't know if it's available in the States. It's our preference to not feed liver treats as that's the organ that collects toxins.

Posted by: Arteest | July 23, 2017 9:39 AM    Report this comment

w/ 4 dogs( Pit Bull , Black and Tan Hound ,Mini Schnauzer , Aussie Cattle dog mix) treats can be an adventure -Polka Dog Bakery (out of Boston ) offers Cod and Haddock skins in Bulk -also dried chicken -good prices -can order on line and call

Posted by: 4dogz282 | July 21, 2017 6:58 AM    Report this comment

For times when it is just impractical to carry boiled chicken or hot dog pieces, I use sweet potato and other natural treats from Front Porch Pets of Wild Rose, WI. They are great, the dogs love them and I never worry about quality or what is in them.

Posted by: Boykin Lover | July 21, 2017 6:15 AM    Report this comment

I dehydrate sweet potato slices...crispy, crunchy and thoroughly enjoyed. I also use orange slices (his ultimate favorite!) when treating after agility runs...great incentive! When on the road we resort to Charlie Bears or dried salmon (makes for smelly pockets!). Being a Portuguese...fruit is something to drool for...berries, melon...apples...whatever we have, he wants! Try preparing ninty oranges for freezing when we spend summers in Alaska! But...he's worth every effort!

Posted by: Deke'smom | July 20, 2017 11:30 PM    Report this comment

For my 2 Labs I treat with: (all frozen))green beans, peas, blueberries, strawberry slices, banana slices, raw venison liver cubes, and raw venison meat chunks. Also, (all fresh)carrots, apples, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, pears, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, zucchini, celery, cauliflower, and cucumber. Fortunately Labs will eat almost anything, so giving them healthy treats is easy!

Posted by: DeeLabgirls2 | July 20, 2017 6:39 PM    Report this comment

All home cooking for my Westie including treats!

Posted by: Loisronis | July 20, 2017 5:04 PM    Report this comment

My 9 month old Fox Red English Lab gets clean foods only as treats i.e. cooked chicken, apple, carrots, mangos. We are going on a road trip so I appreciate everyone's feed back regarding decent packaged treats! Will check some of them out! I am against processed foods such as ham, hotdogs and canned meats.

Posted by: SlyBrandy | July 20, 2017 4:48 PM    Report this comment

I use both home made and bought treats. My favorite home made treat is a pumpkin cookie that uses honey,pumpkin, apple sauce and whole wheat flour. The dogs love it, pumpkin is good for them and it makes a wonderful 'pill pocket'.

I use Old Mother Hubbard bitz and Zuke's for training.

Posted by: Amy E S | July 20, 2017 4:30 PM    Report this comment

Like Dogwoman (above), I treat with Orijen Six Fish.
However, I'm a raw feeder (16 years) and the smelly Six Fish kibbles are relished by my three current adopted senior dogs (2x12yo and 1x16yo). I usually offer two tiny pieces of Mozzarella cheese for 'desert' after meals. The ritual is: eat, go out to potty when finished, come inside when called, and wait in the kitchen for cheese desert. Yum! Good dog.

Posted by: JackSivak | July 20, 2017 4:19 PM    Report this comment

I use treats all the time! I am a fulltime RVer, so we are always traveling to new places, with plenty of opportunities for training and socialization, all treat-reinforced. My dog pottys on command, reinforced with Charley Bears (liver & wheat - my current dog does ok w/wheat, 3 calories per, avail. cheaply at Trader Joe's). It is hard to have a lot of live meat around the camper - we don't eat it and don't have the kitchen facilities to make and store it. Karma gets canned food along with her kibble, plus lots of treats: dried liver and dried mussels in her kong, treats for brushout, ear cleaning, etc. My favorite treats are by Vita Essentials. They have a good lineup of freeze-dried meat treats in small nib-sized form: beef, tripe, chicken hearts, rabbit, minnows, etc. They aren't oily, and don't disintegrate or glom onto their teeth like some freeze-dried foods do. Give them a try! (no, I don't work for them : )

Posted by: Specie | July 20, 2017 3:54 PM    Report this comment

My dog goes bonkers for Honest Kitchen's Beams. She also enjoys hard boiled eggs, limited fruits, and baby organic carrots. She gets a little squirter of canned whipped cream at nite before bed. She's 14 and it makes her happy so.....

Posted by: #1 Dog Mom | July 20, 2017 3:43 PM    Report this comment

The only treats that our 12 year old golden gets are a few pieces of her kibble (Orijen Six Fish) and small pieces of organic carrots - which she loves! She also gets, on rare occasion, a piece of banana...other than this, nothing else. She is fit, active, and still enjoys chasing balls, swimming and being completely entertaining!

Posted by: dogwoman | July 20, 2017 11:44 AM    Report this comment

There are some good treats out there that are made with human grade ingredients and have no wheat, soy or corn that I give my dogs and they love them and are healthy. They are all made in the USA. I read the ingredients carefully. Favorite brand is K9 Granola Factory. Exclusively made in the USA with all natural ingredients. Wet Noses and Wellness are the other brands I like. Dog.com carries these brands.

Posted by: maryj711 | July 20, 2017 11:28 AM    Report this comment

I started making my own treats when my dog was a puppy because it was just too expensive to keep buying them at the rate we were going through them with her training. They were a peanut butter and honey flavored biscuit. I still make these but then I discovered the trick of baking chicken hot dogs and that's quicker to put together. I do supplement store bought treats as well now because when I go to adoption events with my rescue, I'm the treat lady! All the dogs learn really quick who has the treats and I use them to work on their sit and focus in a crazy environment. I just don't have the time to make enough treats for my dog and fosters plus everyone else's so store bought keeps me going.

Posted by: Stephenie D | July 20, 2017 11:28 AM    Report this comment

I am a volunteer in behavior & training dept at our local shelter. For the shelter dogs we use US sourced commercial treats (ex: RedBarn dog food roll, Merrick Power Bites, Charlee Bears) but also real meat - roast chicken or beef and yes, relatively low-fat turkey hot dogs. The dogs & the situation tell us which to use:-)

Posted by: sandyeggan | July 20, 2017 11:19 AM    Report this comment

I do use some commercially prepared treats but only high quality ones from the companies who make the top lines of kibble and check ingredients carefully. I use home prepared food so would defeat the purpose of that if I fed Milk Bones or Beggin Strips! I also make my own chicken jerky from organic chicken breasts - it's easy to make if you have a dehydrator- its nutritious, not fattening, easy to break into small pieces, and my dog loves it. I always have a large jar on the counter that I use for treats when training, walking, etc.

Posted by: katgue | July 20, 2017 11:15 AM    Report this comment

Seriously?? While you advocate for healthy dog food and treats you are suggesting ham and hot dogs for treats?Super high sodium and fat not to mention sodium nitrates. Ham precipitated pancreatitis in one of my standard poodles. Lesson learned. We bake chicken breast and even look at "moisture or flavoring added to that. Sweet potatoes, or other roasted meats cut in small pieces much better option to hot dogs and ham.

Posted by: Cruiser | July 20, 2017 11:09 AM    Report this comment

I have 4 very special but picky friends!! They will eat Zignature dry food with a mix of bison puppy dry food. All very healthy from Pet Club here in AZ. String cheese they go crazy for as a treat. They do not like the many "healthy" treats found in stores. My wonderful Zach passed away 2 years ago and he love Zukes. My new chows will not eat Zukes nor any treat other than Vitabones. For dinner I make ground beef/chicken w brown rice and mixed veggies. They sit at their bowls waiting for this w their dry food.

Posted by: Chowman | July 20, 2017 11:05 AM    Report this comment

I don't eat meat and fish myself so I don't want to be cooking it, but I don't prevent my dog from enjoying all types of food. So like the article says, I buy only long established reputable brands of treats with limited ingredients. Also, another big reason for this is that half the year, meat and fish would spoil too quickly.

Posted by: Dogs r us | July 20, 2017 11:00 AM    Report this comment

I do buy some store bought treats for my mini dachshund but I thoroughly read the ingredients list as she is allergic to chicken. I don't think that I purchase any of the items pictured above. I'm picky about what I give to her.
I discovered (during a local pet expo) The Chocolate Lab Company- based out of VA. They have a decent variety and my doxie just loves them.

Posted by: joandmar | July 20, 2017 10:56 AM    Report this comment

We only offer high-quality treats. If it says Chicken, mango, and kale... That's all that's in it. Feel free to take a look. PetNutritionUSA.com

Posted by: PetNutritionUSA | July 20, 2017 10:47 AM    Report this comment

I went to using roasted liver or beef heart plus cheese and occasionally hot dogs for regular treats long ago, when dogs died from Chinese treats. It is quick to cook treat meat (350 oven for 20-30 minutes) and not particularly messy - I carry it in a sandwich bag pretty much all the time in a pocket. Organ meat is a preferred food of wild canines so no wonder they love it.

Posted by: MaryK | July 20, 2017 10:45 AM    Report this comment

Here are my favorites: chicken hotdogs, string cheese, boiled chicken breast, steak and steak trimmings, baked salmon, dehydrated chicken livers, meatballs. I cut these up into small pieces, about the size of my pinky fingernail for small and medium dogs and the size of my thumbnail for large dogs. I cut them up and keep them in ziplock snack bags in the freezer. I also use a few store bought treats, made by Bravo!, PureBites, and Zukes. The Honest Kitchen has some human grade treats, too. It's nice to have something on hand for when I need something quick and unrefrigerated. I keep a bag in my car and in my home.

Posted by: askdrcaryn | July 20, 2017 10:45 AM    Report this comment

As a producer of hand-crafted organic treats...we recognize that for a lot of people it is easier to have something available in a packaged form that they can treat their dog with. We are a locally produced brand, carry a Non-GMO Project Verification Mark to demonstrate our commitment to your right to know what is in your dog's treats. Lots of dogs love cookies...not everyone has the time to make them. We are a small business that believes in making a difference in how we treat our dogs one dog at a time! While it is a daunting task competing with the giants...we believe in what we do! We available at specialty markets, indpendent pet retailers and online Dog Mamma's

Posted by: Kathryn | July 20, 2017 10:43 AM    Report this comment

Here's why I use them: I have picky dog that's not so interested in food, and also has some irritable bowel/allergy issues. I cut out processed meats (hot dogs), dairy, chicken, beef and pork in an attempt to get it under control. We have had no incidents since then so I'm hesitant to add to add them back, certainly not in large amounts. I then began high quality packaged treats with few ingredients in venison, or salmon flavors. I began them one bag at a time: I fed until the bag was empty then tried another high quality version. So far so good. Wish I could make my own, but salmon's too messy, don't have venison and don't think flour would improve the situation (what else would you use for a binder). He doesn't like sweet potatoes, and has gotten tired of carrots, pumpkin, even peanut butter. Still, it's a problem because there are not that many different kinds of treats that meet that criteria, and he's growing tired of them. We use toys a lot for training rewards which he loves, but I sure do miss the ease of grabbing a handful of chicken or cheese and going at it. It's hard to counter condition without something so delicious they go crazy for it.

Posted by: Alice R. | July 20, 2017 10:24 AM    Report this comment

hot dogs are great. But, I quit using them. Just don't like the smell of them on my hands. For the matter-any kind of cooked meat.
I do use cheese and I buy some treats from the store. Usually dried meat.

Posted by: Barbara Lamar Schulties | July 20, 2017 10:20 AM    Report this comment

I usually use real meat for treats (steak, ham, cheese) but you have to be careful with that too. Any canned meat, hot dogs, deli meats, etc. are loaded with sodium and other preservatives which is not good. I also make homemade salmon treats. When I do buy biscuits they are grain free with limited ingredients.

Posted by: Ritz | July 20, 2017 10:09 AM    Report this comment

I don't always have hot dogs or fresh chicken on hand. You have to use them up or they spoil. I keep a container of treats in the bedroom as a "night night" cookie. I use Wellness bites.

Posted by: pap luv | July 20, 2017 10:01 AM    Report this comment

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