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10 Healthy Treats for Dogs

How hard is it to find healthy treats for dogs? Actually, not that hard at all. Treats are an important part of your pet's diet. However, the rule of thumb is that treats should make up 10% of their daily food intake. Too often we tend to exceed that rule. From not being able to resist the beautiful puppy eyes begging for more to using treats for training and reward purposes.

Due to high dog obesity, it’s important to practice mindful feeding and choose their treats wisely.  Keep track of the number of treats you give to them and when.  A great way to do that is to portion the treats into a per-day allowance.  This avoids giving the entire allowance in one hit. Instead, spreading the allocation of treats throughout the day/evening.

Most commercial treats found in stores are highly processed and offer very little to no nutritional value.

We are advocates of feeding pets human-grade food and treats.  Using real food or minimally processed treats that provide high nutrition value for your dog. Unfortunately, most commercial treats found in stores are highly processed and offer very little to no nutritional value.  A 2017 study showed that many of the commercial treats tested were high in sugar. They didn’t define the ingredients accurately and exceeded the daily energy allowance.  This is a concern for dogs with health conditions who have specific dietary requirements.

petwell  dog taking treat

Healthy Treats for Your Dog

We've put together this list of super healthy treats for dogs that are readily available and easy to prepare. It's not hard to skip the convenience of processed treats and make your own.

Note: Not all dogs will like every treat on this list. Experiment with the options and you’ll soon work out which treats are to your dog's liking. 

1. Apples

Apples are a great source of fibre called pectin. Pectin aids in regular digestion and overall good gut health. They also contain vitamins, potassium, and antioxidants that support the immune system and fight off degenerative diseases.  The act of chewing crunchy apples also cleans their teeth and freshens their breath. 

IMPORTANT: Be sure to remove the seeds and core. The seeds contain small amounts of toxins, not suitable for their digestion.

2.  Bananas

Bananas are nature's dessert so be mindful of portion size.  They are sweet and loaded with health benefits for your dog.  They contain vitamin C to support immunity, and a probiotic to support digestive health. Also, full of fibre that helps regulate bowel movements.

Bananas are rich in;
Potassium and vitamin B6 help maintain healthy blood pressure and therefore healthy heart
Magnesium – helps strengthen muscles
Potassium – promotes healthy bone growth and can reduce the loss of calcium.

IMPORTANT: Bananas are high in natural sugars, therefore should be given in moderation.  If your dog is diabetic, please consult with your vet prior to feeding them bananas.

3. Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, support urinary tract health, and can reduce inflammation. In addition, they are one of the most powerful anti-ageing dog treats around.

  • Blueberries have a high vitamin C content. Good for healthy skin, a healthy heart, and overall well-being of the immune system
  • High-quality fibre to support good gut health and regulate digestion
  • Rich in antioxidants to protect cells against free radicals and inflammation. This can help prevent cancer
  • Full of minerals such as manganese and potassium to maintain strong joint health and bone and cartilage strength
  • Supports cognitive function. Studies show a reduction in brain ageing 

Read more about the benefits of Blueberries on the Food Profile page.

4. Broccoli

Broccoli, like many other green veggies is well known for its health benefits. Rich in vitamins and nutrients including magnesium and potassium for muscle and bone health.

A natural anti-inflammatory that supports joint health. Broccoli is high in fibre helping maintain bowel movement regularity.

Broccoli contains antioxidants that fight cancer-causing free radicals, heart disease and cognitive decline. Also loaded with vitamins A, C and K that collectively work to support immune health.

Dogs can have raw broccoli, but it is recommended that you roast, blanch, or steam it. It’s easier for dogs to digest high-fibre foods once they've been cooked.

5. Cantaloupe

This sweet treat is low in calories, packed with goodness and contains 90% water. It’s very hydrating for your dog.

Cantaloupe is rich in;
Beta-carotene – for good sight
Dietary fibre – helps with bowel movement regularity
Folate, potassium, and vitamins A, B-6, and C – support and boost immune health and overall well-being.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you remove the seeds and rind as they can cause intestinal blockage. Only give them the flesh.

6. Carrots

petwell  dog taking treat

Carrots are readily available. Low in calories and full of health benefits. Due to their naturally sweet taste, dogs love them.  Cut them up into bite-sized pieces and watch them go, raw or cooked. Frozen carrots can gently scrape their teeth as they chew, preventing plaque buildup.

Carrots are rich in;
Vitamin A - supports the immune system and healthy skin and coat
Soluble fibre - Helps with bowel movement regularity
Beta-carotene - good for sight

7. Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a superfood for pets, and they love it! The biggest attraction of pumpkin for dogs is that it's low in calories, but rich in essential vitamins and minerals.

The high concentration of vitamin A provides beneficial antioxidants and potassium. It's great for muscle health and eye health. It assists in regulating blood pressure and a healthy metabolism too.

Also packed with a variety of healthy nutrients, including Vitamin E and C, Iron, Zinc, Phosphorus, Magnesium, and Folate, to name a few. They all provide many health benefits aiding digestion, the immune system, brain function, and healthy skin and coat.

8. Strawberries 

Strawberries are a great source of fibre, packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. They also contain a compound called malic acid, that can help clean your dog’s teeth.

The vitamins and minerals help boost the immune system, and support heart and kidney function. The manganese in strawberries supports collagen production to strengthen connective tissue, ideal for joint health. 

Frozen strawberries make an awesome summer treat!

IMPORTANT: Be sure to remove the calyx (the green leafy part at the top of a strawberry) prior to feeding your dog the strawberry. It can be a choking hazard. Strawberries are high in natural sugars, therefore should be given in moderation. If your dog is diabetic, please consult with your vet prior to feeding them strawberries.

9. Sweet Potatoes (Cooked)

Cooked sweet potatoes make a great healthy treat.  You can roast, steam, or boil them. They keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days. It may seem like an effort, but cooking for your dog is well worth the health benefits they gain.

Sweet potatoes are rich in;
Beta-carotene – for good sight
Dietary fibre – helps with bowel movement regularity
Amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, and Vitamin B-6 and C. – for strong immunity health

IMPORTANT: Raw or dried sweet potatoes can cause digestive issues. Do not give your dog raw potatoes of any kind.

10. Watermelon

petwell  dog eating wtaermellon

Watermelon is a sweet, tasty treat option that dogs love. It contains many nutrients including potassium, vitamins A, B-6, and C.  Due to its high water content - 92%, it’s the ideal treat for summer as it's hydrating.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you remove the seeds and rind as they can cause intestinal blockage and digestion issues. Only give them the flesh.

Other Healthy Treat Options Include:

  • Cauliflower
  • Green beans
  • Natural Yoghurt
  • Sardines
  • Mangoes
  • Pears
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers

Summary and Considerations:

  1. Wherever possible, keep your dog's treats natural and low in calories
  2. When trying new foods for your dog, it’s important to start with small amounts and monitor how their digestion reacts. 
  3. Remember that treats should only make up 10% of your dog’s daily food intake
  4. You can add any of these beneficial treats into your dog’s food bowl as toppers
  5. Fibre-rich vegetables should be steamed or blanched for your dog’s body to better absorb the benefits
  6. If your dog has any prior medical conditions, always check with your vet prior to changing their diet.

The Science Behind It

Don’t just take our word for it, here are some evidence-based studies for you to review.

Commercial treats study
Pumpkin - essential vitamins and minerals
Blueberries - reduction in brain ageing 
antioxidants reduces cancer risk

Please Note: We are not providing medical advice and we always recommend you seek advice from your Vet. 

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