What Are the Best Treats to Give Your Dog?

Food & Feeding
Best Dog treats

The short version:

Best Dog Treats: Stick to treats that are natural, unprocessed, low in salt and sugar, and serve a purpose. Occupier and dental treats will slow their eating down and keep them entertained for hours. Good options include: 

  • Scratch Beef Jerky Treats
  • Chicken necks (for small dogs)
  • Pigs ears (for medium dogs)
  • Lamb and pork bones (for medium dogs)
  • Goat horns/deer antlers (for large dogs)
  • Beef bones (for large dogs)

The options for treats to give your dogs are ever growing. Sometimes it feels like there are as many dog snacks on the market as human ones. We can see the appeal: dogs obviously love them, and they’re a great way to train and reward your pet. But not all snacks are created equal. So let us help you sort the best from the rest!

Training/Reward Treats for Dogs

These are little morsels that when given together with praise, are a great way to help train your dog. They’re also very delicious, so make for a nice (and small) special nibble.

  • Natural Versions: Liver treats, small pieces of jerky, or small chunks of chicken.
  • Commercial best sellers: Schmackos.
  • Watch outs: These kinds of treats can be loaded with sugar, salt, and preservatives—no wonder dogs love them. These additives are in there to improve the taste of mostly grain-based treats, keep products nice and chewy, or help them last on the shelf. 
  • My pal Snoop’s Favourites: “I luuuv kangaroo jerky pieces or pieces of my food. Never had a Schmackos. Not a fan of liver (I ate too much once).”

best dog treat

Occupier Dog Treats

While training treats are gone in an instant, occupier treats are meant to last a long time. They’re often used to reduce boredom (and owner guilt) when dogs are left alone all day. Dogs will like different kinds depending on their size, tastes, and how veracious a chewer they are!

  • Natural Versions for Small Dogs & Light Chewers: Chicken necks, beef jerky straps, small bully sticks
  • Natural Versions for Medium Dogs & Medium Chewers: Pigs Ears, large bully sticks, lamb or pork bones
  • Natural Versions for Large Dogs & Heavy Chewer: Goat horns, deer antlers, beef bones.
  • Commercial best sellers: Rawhide. (I’m generally not a fan. Most are made in China and go through a chemical-heavy process that can cause digestion problems).
  • Watch outs: Be mindful when giving dogs bones. Never give them a cooked bone (they can splinter). Where you can, try get a bone from a butcher to avoid any nasty chemicals. 
  • Snoop’s Favourites: “I’m a self-confessed chew-a-holic. Although I’m only a beagle, a pig ear or large bully stick lasts me max 10 minutes. The only things I growl to protect are raw bones—the bigger, the better. They can keep me chewing for hours.”

dog treat

Functional Dog Treats

Functional dog treats are super popular because they’re yum and offer some functional health benefit to your pup. They mostly fall into two categories: 

  • Dental Health: Bones or treats that encourage chewing often fit here. But so do specifically designed treats like X or star-shaped “dental sticks”. Dental health is one of the biggest health issues for dogs, so this is an easy way to spoil and help them.
  • Joint Health: Natural options include green lipped muscles and shark cartilage. Where as commercial offerings will generally also include glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3, and increasingly turmeric.
  • Watch outs: People love throwing big, fancy words around when it comes to nutrition. So if a treat is claiming these ingredients make sure you read the pack to see how much is really included.

CBD Treats

This is a new, but growing area overseas (especially in the US). Basically it’s treats that include cannabidiol oil: an extract of cannabis without the bit that makes you feel weird. Fans of CBD claim it has a range of benefits including reducing anxiety and inflammation, but it’s still early days. You can read more about it here!

Final Advice

When looking for the best dog treats, remember to read the labels and consider the ingredients in the same way you would when selecting the food your dog eats. Not sure how to do that? Read this!

If you use treats regularly, then also consider the impact this has on overall calorie consumption for your pup. More than 50% of Australian dogs are overweight or obese. So, if you are treating your dog, and who can say no to those pleading puppy dog eyes, reduce the amount of food at meal times.

Written by on for Off The Leash

Article last updated on January 13, 2021

Doug never had a dog growing up but as soon as he stopped moving around knew he needed a dog in his life. Enter Snoop the Beagle. Doug worked for 7 years designing and making dog treats and food for some of Australia's best brands. Now a Co-Founder of Scratch Pet Food.

Frequently Asked Questions

The healthiest treats are natural. Such as Scratch Beef Jerky Treats, chicken necks, pigs earls, and raw lamb, pork, and beef bones.

Commercial bestseller treats (like Schmackos) are popular because they’re loaded with sugar, salt, and preservatives. Other processed options like rawhide often contain heavy chemicals that can cause digestive problems.

While bones can be a good, cheap alternative, make sure to never give dogs cooked bones (they can splinter). Try get a bone from a butcher to avoid any nasty chemicals. 

Training treats are supposed to be delicious as a way to motivate your dog. Because of this, they’re often loaded with salt and sugar. Reduce their calorie impact by choosing natural options like liver treats, small pieces of jerky, or small chunks of chicken.

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