My dogs know exactly where their treats are stored; both the chews (in the upper right hand kitchen cupboard) and their training treats (on a shelf in the refrigerator door). When the bag crinkles or box is opened, their joy is infectious! Treats can serve several purposes in your dog’s life and joy is, of course, one of those. But chews can also help with behavior, can assist in keeping your dog’s teeth clean, and can provide supplements to their diet.

Cute mutt with treat on his nose

Long-lasting Chews

Chews such as antlers, rolled beef cheeks, and other hard treats are called long-lasting because, for many dogs, these chews will survive through several chewing sessions. For power chewers, though, dogs with strong jaws who enjoy chewing hard, few things (except perhaps large antlers) will last a long time.

These hard chews satisfy a dog’s need to chew, and without these being available, they might decide to chew on the furniture or your shoes. The scraping action of chewing on hard chews can help keep teeth clean, too. They don’t replace good dental care, but are a part of it.

Training Treats

Training treats are exactly what their name implies: treats to use as a lure and reward during training. These make training more fun for your dog and provide motivation for his cooperation. Training treats are small; the size of a pencil eraser. Too large and your dog will get full or lose interest.

Ideally, a training treat should have a good smell as your dog’s sense of smell is his most important sense. The taste of the treats is important, too, as some dogs are more particular than others—but the smell is always important.

Beagle dog sitting excited for a treat

Dried Meat Treats

There are a variety of dried meat treats available now that appeal to almost all dogs, even those who are finicky about their treats. Dried beef, pig, and lamb ears, dried beef or bison tendons, jerky (dried meats strips), pizzles, and many other animal parts are readily available. Cheek rolls (softer skin than rawhides), oxen tails, hooves, tripe, and pig snouts can all be found as treats and chews.

Some have dual uses. The dried trachea or esophagus can also be used as treat dispensing treats. Take one and block one end with cheese or peanut butter. Then fill with banana pieces, bits of meat, or even kibble. Then seal the top with peanut butter too and freeze the whole thing. When you give it to your dog, do so outside or with him lying on a towel as it might be messy. Good messy, but messy!

Treats for Better Health

A wide variety of treats are available with the goal of helping your pet live a healthier, happier life. Putting the supplement in a tasty treat form makes it easier to give to your dog; he’ll willingly eat it rather than fighting you as you try to give him a pill.

Multivitamin chews are made to be given daily. Most also contain minerals as well. Treats with added fiber are also available for dogs lacking in fiber or with digestive issues. Skin and coat supplements usually contain added omega acids of various forms.

Treats containing cosequin, MSM, anti-inflammatories (such as turmeric), and other supplements are very common and are most often given to dogs with injuries or arthritis. Hard working dogs, performance sports dogs, or older dogs may benefit the most from these treats.

In the last ten years or so, behavior-enhancing treats have become more popular. These usually contain herbal remedies, flower essences, or B vitamins; all of which may provide a calming effect for dogs.

With any of these treats, read the label and give as directed. Although the supplements in treats are low dosage, too many could potentially have a negative effect.

Black lab chewing on Sam's Yams treat

Treat Guidelines

When giving treats of any kind, most nutritionists recommend that the calorie count of all the treats given in a day total no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. This way the nutritional balance of the diet won’t be upset.

However, if your dog is on a weight loss program, look at the calorie count of the treats and provide lower calorie treats. There are many available.

Supervise your dog when he’s chewing on hard treats, such as antlers, to make sure he’s not breaking off large pieces. If he’s getting too enthused about destroying the chew, take it away for a while and let him calm down.

By: Liz Palika