It’s been a little more than a year since we last examined dog treats, but, oh, what a year! It’s amazing (and fortunate for our dogs) how quickly the “healthy dog foods” consciousness is rising, and how many more healthy treats are available than there were last year. For example, we’re seeing far fewer treats that contain propylene glycol, or artificial preservatives and colors, and far more treats containing nothing but healthy, whole foods. “A rising tide raises all boats,” goes the old saying.
But the “rising tide of health awareness” doesn’t seem to have raised the consciousness of the titanic mainstream dog food industry much. We checked a few of the “grocery store” treats and got an iceberg-sized chill. Well-known brands such as Beggin’ Strips (made by Purina) are still formulated with ingredients on our “forbidden” list – things like glycerin (an artificial sweetener) AND sugar, artificial colors, and artificial preservatives. (We were amused by the eighth ingredient on the Beggin’ Strips label, euphemistically dubbed “meat.”)
Other well-known brands, such as Milk Bones and Bonz, seem to be slowly improving, for instance, replacing animal fat, a low quality ingredient of mysterious origins, with beef tallow. However, they still lack the kind of wholesome ingredients and simple formulas you’ll find in our picks.
On the next pages, we’ve listed our favorite treats alphabetically and grouped in one of two categories: WDJ’s Top Picks and Very Good Treats. For education’s sake, we’ve also included a few that narrowly missed our list, and we explain why. Due to space limitations, we can discuss only a sampling of the treats that are available, but you can learn a lot from comparing your dog’s favorite treat to our selections.
Our general suggestions? Stay away from “big-name” commercial treats found in grocery stores, look for products that meet our selection criteria, and let your dog’s health and appetite be your guide.
-By Nancy Kerns