Last updated: August 8, 2021

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Welcome to our big dog treat test 2021. Here we present all the dog treats we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the web.

We want to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best dog treats for you.

You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should be aware of when buying dog treats.




Summary

  • Dog treats are a supplement to conventional dog food (and not a replacement!) and a reward for the dog at the same time. They should be used accordingly.
  • Basically, a distinction is made between dog biscuits, chewing snacks or bones and dried meat (jerky). Each of these types of treats is suitable for different purposes.
  • You can also make your own dog treats if you have the time and inclination.

The Best Dog Treats: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying dog treats

What are dog treats made of and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Dog treats can contain both meat and vegetarian materials. Of course, most treats are made from meat such as chicken, pork, beef, but also lamb, venison, rabbit and horse, or even fish such as salmon or tuna.

Quite a few treats consist of a mixture of animal and vegetable elements.

Vegetarian treats are a special case, which we will discuss at the end of this article.

Are dog treats suitable for every dog?

There are dog treats for every age, every breed, every weight and every imaginable taste. However, not every treat is suitable for every dog and certainly not in every situation.

On the one hand, there are health reasons. As with humans, there are also allergy sufferers in dogs who cannot tolerate every ingredient. Nausea, vomiting, flatulence, bowel movements, stomach cramps and more are the result of careless food intake.

A certain amount of forethought or (more likely) consideration is also required with puppies: a puppy's stomach is still in the development and growth stage, so to a certain extent, which is why you cannot simply give a puppy the same treats - and certainly not in the same quantity - as an adult dog.

In addition, puppies need puppy milk, especially in the first four weeks of their lives.

If you own a puppy, you'd better be careful when choosing a dog treat. (Image source: unsplash.com / Berkay Gumustekin)

On the other hand, pragmatic considerations argue for moderation when pampering with treats: they are a reward and should therefore only be used when the dog has "earned" them.

It may seem shocking that you make the reward dependent on a certain behaviour, i.e. that you are conditioning your best friend and loyal companion. You may also want to reward your dog in this way and this is not easy for us as writers either.

But remember: pampering only leads to your dog no longer obeying you, and so you gradually lose control over him.

Puppies are particularly receptive to learning a certain behaviour. If the wrong incentives are given during this period of (initial) learning, the undesirable behaviours are difficult to untrain.

How much do dog treats cost?

Inexpensive treats are already available in the single-digit euro range. Most are products with simple ingredients, which can often be chemically supplemented. Organic products or those with exotic meat naturally cost more. Of course, the price depends not only on the quality but also on the quantity. It is not uncommon to get a discount for larger order quantities.

However, when considering the price, always bear in mind that some treats, such as chew bones, have a longer "shelf life" or "usability", as they are not eaten in one piece, but are chewed over a longer period of time and wear out over time.

What alternatives are there to dog treats?

Basically, you can treat your dog with any form of affection you can think of. Ultimately, treats, even if they are dog food, serve as a special reward, whether or not they are linked to a condition (obedience, housetraining, etc.).

They do not have to be food. Alternatives to dog treats include:

  • Attention (petting, playing)
  • Hygiene
  • Exercise or extension of the leash (more room to play)

Decision: What types of dog treats are there and which is the right one for you or your dog?

Depending on your needs, there are different types of dog treats that can be roughly divided into the following categories:

  • Dog biscuits
  • Chewy snacks and bones
  • Dried meat (jerky)

What distinguishes dog biscuits and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Dog biscuits come in different varieties with different flavours, with and without meat. It's best to try out what your dog likes best.

They can be used as a snack when your dog needs to sit still or go for a walk. However, they are not suitable for cleaning the dog's teeth. Of course, you can also bake your own dog biscuits; you will find instructions at the end of this page.

Advantages
  • Train the chewing muscles
  • Prevent tartar
  • Usually long-lasting
  • Delicious
Disadvantages
  • Not suitable for teeth cleaning

However, they should not be used in excess. Keep in mind that every time you give your dog a treat, it will adjust its behaviour based on whether or not it receives one.

Therefore, it is important not only to give him a treat when he has been "good", but also to give him a treat when he is not expecting it - and vice versa, i.e. not to give him a treat when he is expecting one. In this way he learns that he can also be rewarded by doing without.

What are the characteristics of chews and chew bones and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Chew snacks and bones are characterised by their special toughness and/or hardness, which allows the dog to chew on them for hours. So, unlike dog biscuits, they are not immediately consumable, but gradually wear away over several hours.

Chewable snacks and bones are available in different flavours, with meat and purely vegetable-based, in different colours, hardnesses and sizes.

This cute dog can keep busy for hours with a chew bone (Source: Pixabay.com / James Smith).

Dogs already have a chewing instinct from birth, which can be ideally satisfied in this way. For particularly active dogs, chewing calms and relaxes them.

Chewing also promotes saliva production and stimulates digestion, just like eating. Finally, the dog receives valuable nutrients, especially calcium, which is important for the teeth, bones and claws.

Advantages
  • Train the chewing muscles
  • Prevent dental problems
  • Help against bad breath
  • Toy and treat at the same time
  • Can be used for hours
  • Bones: Contain a lot of calcium
Disadvantages
  • Possibly unsuitable for dental problems (consult vet)
  • A certain amount should be observed (especially important for puppies)

For dogs with teeth and dentition problems, make sure that the chewing object is not too hard, otherwise it can cause more damage.

For puppies, too, the frequency and duration of chewing should be controlled to prevent the dog from chewing on furniture and the like in adulthood because it has been doing so since childhood.

What are the characteristics of dried meat and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

Dried meat consists entirely or largely of dried meat (or more rarely: fish), which ideally has been produced absolutely naturally, i.e. without any additives. The meat can be beef, game, horse or other, more exotic animals such as kangaroo.

Advantages
  • Train the chewing muscles
  • Prevent dental problems
  • Fish: Also contains many omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
Disadvantages
  • None

Drying over a longer period of time, i.e. dehydration, makes the meat last longer and develops its own smell and taste. By continuously chewing on the tough meat, plaque is rendered harmless.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate dog treats

In the following, we will show you which characteristics you can use to decide between the many possible dog treats.

These are namely:

  • Ingredients
  • Taste
  • Size or quantity

In the following paragraphs, we will explain to you what exactly is important in the individual criteria.

Ingredients

As already mentioned, dog treats are made of different ingredients. Health aspects (intolerances and allergies) must be taken into account, as well as the age of the dog (especially calcium-rich treats are suitable for puppies or older, frail animals).

Remember that dog treats should not be the main food for dogs, but just an extra to the dog food. Therefore, in terms of ingredients, they should serve as a dietary supplement.

You will find the most important ingredients of dog treats on the packaging, as well as information about any intolerances and allergies. Always pay attention to the dose, because more is not automatically better.

Taste

Dogs, like humans, have their own preferences when it comes to the ingredients in their food. There is a wide variety of flavours that you (or rather your dog) can choose from. The palette ranges from the usual flavours such as poultry or spinach to the strange-looking insects. Here you have to try it out.

Size or quantity

This criterion is actually self-explanatory. As with any food, the size of the treat should be considered. A huge chewing bone, for example, is hardly suitable for a few-week-old puppy; conversely, tiny dog biscuits are hardly intended for a mastiff or the package is likely to empty quickly.

For storage, especially of dried meat, the quantity is decisive. Less is often more.

It is also important to consider the purpose. If your dog is to be kept busy for several hours, then a chewing bone is not a bad idea.

If you want to train him (e.g. tricks), it makes no sense to give him the bone only to snatch it out of his mouth a few seconds or minutes later. Here, biscuits are a more sensible alternative.

Facts worth knowing about dog treats

How can I make dog treats myself?

Dog treats are easy to make yourself. This way you can cater to your dog's individual needs (taste, intolerances such as allergies, size of the treats) and save money on top of that. In principle, you are free to choose the ingredients for making treats for your dog.

  • Recommended ingredients are well-cooked meat, fruit and vegetables in general; it is best to look at what is contained in conventional dog food and adjust the dose to your four-legged friend.
  • For some ingredients (especially those with a high fat or fructose content), it is advisable to add a smaller amount.
  • However, certain ingredients are to be avoided (depending on the mandatory!). These include:
    • Alcohol
    • Chocolate and cocoa (the substance theobromine is indigestible and deadly poison for dogs)
    • Coffee, tea, energy drinks and their primary active ingredients
    • Milk and dairy products
    • Nuts
    • Grapes
    • Sultanas
    • Strong spices (including salt or pepper!)
    • Leeks and onions (onions, garlic, wild garlic, etc.)
    • Legumes (beans, etc.)
    • Mushrooms
    • Bone chips
    • Broccoli, cabbage
    • In the case of allergies, the respective trigger

The above list is not exhaustive, but should include the most important foods (and drinks).

A treat for humans, but pure poison for dogs: chocolate - and the more bitter and the higher the cocoa content, the more dangerous for the dog. (Source: Pixabay.com / Alexander Stein)

You can easily make treats in larger quantities and store them in the fridge or freezer. Note in particular that meat-filled treats can only be kept for a few days, even in the fridge. However, as with all other foods, you can freeze them and defrost them when needed.

Vegetarian and vegan dog treats: Important information

More and more people are following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Especially convinced vegetarians and vegans can nowadays feed their dogs a purely vegetable diet. The selection of vegetarian or vegan dog treats is correspondingly large. However, there are a few things to consider here.

Unlike cats, dogs are not pure carnivores, but are considered "carni-omnivores", i.e. they basically eat everything, but are mainly designed to eat meat, which can be easily recognised externally by their strongly pronounced fangs, fangs and incisors.

Another indicator - admittedly not visible from the outside - is the relatively short intestinal length of the dog. Animal components are digested more quickly than vegetable ones. A dog's intestine is between 2 and 7 m long; a goat, on the other hand, which is comparable in size to a dog, has an intestine almost 40 m long (!).

A predominantly plant-based diet should not be a problem in principle. However, a purely plant-based diet means that certain nutrients may have to be supplied synthetically. Ultimately, it depends on the dog's state of health whether a purely plant-based diet makes sense at all.

It is not recommended for dogs that are not yet fully grown, physically stressed, older, pregnant or sick. The nutritional requirements are also different from those of humans. Ideally, a veterinarian should be consulted.

However, if you feed your dog mixed food and the treats are vegetarian or vegan, this is of course not a problem; treats are not the main component of the diet, but merely a (pleasurable) extra.

Picture source: 123rf.com / lightfieldstudios

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