I’m going to arm you with the knowledge to help you to very quickly read and interpret ingredients lists so that you can choose healthy dog treats and food.
This will help you avoid the minefield of treats containing unhealthy and harmful ingredients.
Please don’t worry about any of our treats containing bad ingredients. All our healthy dog treats contain wholesome and nourishing ingredients. None of the dog treats you’ll find in our shop contain unhealthy or harmful ingredients.
Don’t Let The Claims On The Front Fool You
To help you choose healthy dog treats, firstly you need to completely ignore claims on the front of the packaging.
The front of packaging tries to lure you into purchasing by making claims which can be misleading and make it hard for consumers to choose healthy options without a thorough inspection of the ingredients list.
An example includes Bakers Adult food which says ‘rich in beef with country vegetables’ on the front but the ingredients list shows that the food only contains 7% beef, 0.3% dried pea and 0.3% dried carrot: https://www.allaboutdogfood.co.uk/dog-food-reviews/0012/bakers-adult
Study The Ingredients List
Product ingredients are listed by weight – from highest to lowest.
This means that the first ingredient is what the manufacturer used the most of.
A good rule of thumb is to scan the first few ingredients, as they make up the largest part of what your dog is eating.
Below is an illustration comparing a healthy dog treat against an unhealthy dog treat. My notes at the bottom detail why I believe the Tribal Chicken + Flaxseed treats are healthy and why the Purina Bonio ones are unhealthy.
3 Ingredients To Avoid
Dogs can suffer the same harmful effects of eating sugar as we do: diabetes, obesity, dental problems, and more, so it really is best to avoid it. Plus dogs are so much smaller than us so sugar affects them even more.
Avoid treats containing sugar, sucrose, caramel, or corn syrup.
2. Chemical Preservatives, Colours and Flavours
These are used to enhance the flavour, appearance or texture of a product, or to extend its shelf life.
Some of these substances have been associated with adverse health effects and should be avoided, while others are safe and can be consumed with minimal risk.
The most common ones to avoid are:
– BHA (E320),
– BHT (E321),
– Propyl Gallate (E310),
– Artificial food colourings including Sunset yellow, Tartrazine, Ponceau 4r, Patent blue V and Titanium dioxide
Also avoid treats where the following words are listed in the ingredients list:
– Antioxidants or Preserved with EC Additives
– Colourings or Colourants
3. Meat and Animal Derivatives
What are ‘meat and animal derivatives’?
This is a generic term for animal proteins – It can sourced from any animal. i.e. Chicken? Horse? Rabbit? Pig? Cow?
Your guess is as good as mine!
The meat can also be from any part of the animal, from the very best to the very worst.
Why do manufacturers use meat & animal derivatives?
Because meat and animal by products are some of the cheapest protein sources and manufacturers can choose different sources depending on the cheapest available at the time of manufacture.
So what’s the problem with these unspecified ingredients?
Because they aren’t chosen for their quality. Pets that are intolerant to certain proteins may be fine with one batch but have problems with the next as it’s impossible to know which is in each bag or packet.
The Good Stuff
1. Whole Food Ingredients
Look for whole food ingredients such as chicken, blueberries and oats. The higher quality ingredients are the least processed meaning they contain the most nutrients e.g.
– venison is more nutritious than meat and animal derivatives;
– salmon is healthier than fish derivatives, and
– brown rice is more digestible than cereals.
2. Healthy Sweeteners
If a sweetener is used, it should be natural e.g. applesauce, molasses or honey are much better than anything artificial.
3. Gluten-Free Flour
For the dog treats that contain flour, it’s best to avoid wheat-based flours such as white, wheat, all-purpose, cake and pastry flours as they can cause sensitivities in dogs. Gluten-free flours like chickpea, split yellow pea, rice, almond and oat flours are more easily digestible.
4. Natural Preservatives
If treats contain preservatives (not every treat does) natural preservatives are effective and safe e.g. tocopherols (vitamin E), citric acid (vitamin C), and rosemary extract. Chemical preservatives aren’t safe and can cause dogs problems.
5. Extra Ingredients
Added vitamins such as A or E, Omega fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin are healthy ingredients and can boost your dog’s health.
How I Choose Treats
I believe that dogs should be able to enjoy natural + nourishing treats, free from harmful chemicals, preservatives, and colourants. Every treat that you’ll find on this website has been carefully analysed and vetted, so no matter what you choose you can be confident that it’s going to be healthy, guilt-free, and super tasty.
Introducing The Woof Pack
The Woof Pack is a fully customisable, healthy dog treat membership. Choose one of our ready-made packs, create your own, or request a tailored treat recommendation based on your dog’s breed, age & lifestyle. Your pack will be delivered every month, and you control the contents, as well as the delivery date for maximum convenience. Pause or cancel at any time. Click here to browse our treats.