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Choose dog treats for your pet

Trick or Treat? How to Choose Dog Treats

Here’s the scoop on how to choose dog treats your pal will adore, including a make-at-home recipe, from College for Pets, NH.

Most of us enjoy treats — and our dogs are no different!  But the options and ingredients found in some dog treats can make you wonder if they’re more trick than treat

Dog treats come in all shapes and sizes, and many seem designed to appeal as much (or even more) to their humans as to our pups themselves. And that’s absolutely OKAY. 

There’s no reason you shouldn’t get a boost of happiness while sharing a drool-worthy tidbit with your best pal — as long as what you’re handing out is also not going to cause any harm. So let’s take the mystery out of selecting tasty snacks and training rewards for your furry friend. 

Here’s what to look for when choosing dog treats.

What’s inside? Check the labels before you choose dog treats…

When it comes time to choose dog treats that your canine companion will ingest, it’s critical to start with what’s inside. If you’re buying from a local pet bakery, ask to see the ingredient list; if your treats are boxed, check the labels. Here’s what you’re looking for:

AVOID treats with fillers (like corn, wheat, soy or meal), artificial preservatives (ascorbic acid, a natural preservative, is generally fine), and other unnecessary additives. If your dog has special dietary needs for their main food (grain-free, gluten-free, etc), you’ll want to be sure their snacks follow suit.

CHOOSE treats made with high-quality, natural ingredients, including:

  • High-quality proteins like chicken, liver, beef, or legumes, without a lot of fillers .
  • Whole grains like brown rice, oats or quinoa (as long as your dog can digest them).
  • Fruits and vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, apples.

We have a range of recommended treats highlighted in our shop.

HEALTH TIP: It’s best to avoid common allergens – corn and soy are big ones – but check with your veterinarian if your dog exhibits any signs of sensitivity or allergy, like scratching, skin ailments, stomach upset that lasts more than a day or two. He or she can help assess what may be causing trouble. 

[⭐For those of you in the New Hampshire area, stay tuned for exciting treat-related news coming in November!⭐]

WHY are you “treating” your pup?

Some treats are better, or even designed specifically for, certain purposes (dental care, joint supplements, training, active “chewers”). So, you may want different types for different needs:

  • Training treats should be quite small, since you’re likely to be handing them out liberally! 
  • Dog treats designed for specific purposes typically contain additional benefits, such as dental cleaning ingredients or joint support supplements. 
  • Other snacks should be sized to your dog – small, medium, large is the most common.  

HEALTH TIP: Remember that the calories in treats can really add up fast!  1-3 biscuits, bones, or chews a day is a good starting point, but your vet is the best one to guide you on quantity and type. He or she can narrow the recommendations down based on your dog’s activity level and current calorie needs. (“Even for fruits and vegetables,” you may ask? Yes! Because while carrots and apples are healthier options than many they still contain calories.)

What are your pup’s preferences?

Some dogs gobble up whatever comes near their mouths, of course, but most have some they love best of all. Pay attention to which your dog gets most excited to sniff out from your hand or bowl!

What are your dog’s favorites? 

  • Textures: Crunchy, soft, or chewy? 
  • Flavors: Beef, peanut butter, or cheese? 
  • Longevity: Gobble ‘er down, or lasts all afternoon? 

HEALTH TIP: Be aware of any changes in your furry friend’s stool in the day or so after trying out a new treat; same goes for new stomach noises or vomiting. Once could be a coincidence, twice or more likely means the treat isn’t a good choice for your pal.

Finally, here’s a recipe for a good all-around dog treat you can make at home:

Trusty Dog Treats

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.


  • 2-½ cups whole wheat flour (or oats if your dog is sensitive to wheat)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp beef or chicken stock
  • ⅔ cup hot water
  • ⅓ cup shredded cheese or bacon bits


  1. Mix ingredients together in a large bowl, kneading until it forms a ball. If dough is dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it holds together smoothly.
  2. Roll dough to ½” thickness.
  3. Cut into slices, or desired shapes with a cookie cutter
  4. Place biscuits on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake 30 minutes, cool on wire rack.
  6. Store in the refrigerator up to one week.
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