We’ve been quite lucky because Chloe is a major foodie, the drawback is that she’s quite uninterested in toys. We even had to “teach” her to play fetch! But thankfully, it does make her an expert in the treat field. As part of our training we had gone through, and continue to go through, quite a lot of treats, so we’ve been exposed to a lot of them over the years. As this is something that she consumes every day, often multiple times a day, one thing we quickly became aware of is setting some ground rules for the treats.
We wanted to set ground rules because the ingredients and their quality will directly impact her health and behaviour. Similarly to children, if you pump them up with sugar, oils and cereals it’s not only bad for their overall heath (lowers immune system, lack of vitamins and minerals, added fat, etc) they will also go off the rocker emotionally and often physically. We don’t do this because it’s a fad, and it’s cool, we genuinely want the best of our little Chloe so she can live her life out to the fullest and healthiest….and because vet bills are expensive!
We have become quite picky (and so have Chloe’s taste buds!) to make sure we are using the best treats for our pup.
So what “the best” mean exactly? Well, we have made a small check list when buying any treats:
- MINIMAL INGREDIENTS: This is probably the most important criteria for us, as we wanted to limit the amount of preservatives she’s digesting daily. We need to be able to read the ingredients, if it’s unpronounceable or filled with too many chemicals we aren’t interested. It’s also important to note that order of the ingredients listed, as the ingredients at the beginning are what the treats are MAINLY composed of, so you want the good stuff in the front!
- QUALITY: Next up is the quality of the ingredients in the treats, which does link up with the first point. It’s absolutely horrifying what pet food companies can classify as “chicken” or “beef” so it’s so important for me to know that I understand to the best of my ability what I’m actually feeding Chloe.
- LIMITED GRAINS: So many of today’s treats are pumped full of grain and rice. I don’t dislike grain, and thankfully Chloe doesn’t have an allergy, but it’s not needed in her diet at all, so I try to limit this. Unfortunately, many treats say they are chicken flavour but in fact they are primarily grain with a sprinkle of chicken flavour, which doesn’t fulfil my first two points!
- FLAVOUR VARIETY: This is more to make sure that it keeps things interesting for her. We have low and high value treats on our walks depending on the need, so if we just want to reward for her coming back we would use a low value treat, but if she has stopped chasing a squirrel and come back to us, that would be deserving of a high value, tastier treat.
I know that these requirements are quite ambitious, and treats don’t always fulfil all these criteria, but as a pet owner I try my hardest to tick as many of them off as possible.
So without a further a-do, here’s is what’s in my treat bag recently!
5. CORE WELLNESS PROTEIN BITES
+ These are my go-to low value treats for Chloe, because they are free from grains, wheat, corn, soya, dairy, eggs, beef, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, which mean it ticks off the first easily!
They are also a very good size, nice and small, which are perfect for Chloe especially as I use these often during our walk so they aren’t going to fill her up too much. Might potentially be too small for larger dogs, but they are perfect for the smaller spaniel breed!
They are very reasonably priced as well, only £2.99 for a 170g pack which easily lasts me a couple of weeks. I get it when I am at my local Pets At Home store as they do carry them there.
They currently only come in two different flavours at this time, lamb or chicken, but that’s enough variety for me.
– The only downside to these treats is that the quality is not ideal, as it’s got 23% chicken meal instead of proper chicken.
4. VET’S KITCHEN LITTLE STARS SENSITIVE TREATS
+ So you do have to watch out here just a little bit as they have three different flavours, but only the Sensitive treats flavour is completely gluten, artificial colours, soya, wheat free.
Going through my list of ingredients it’s great because there are only 6 ingredients (all pronounceable!): pork (38%), glycerol, sweet potato, potato, pork fat and pork stock.
There are 3 flavours in total but they do have different ingredients, even if the shape and texture of them all are the same. The other two flavours, Smart+ (Chicken) and Active + (Salmon) contain white rice, so they aren’t grain-free, and they have other added ingredients including DHA to aid learning and Glucosamine, Chondroitin and MSM for boost of energy.
Once again they are very good size, and the treats are relatively hard as well so they don’t crumble when you keep them in your pockets/treat bags. They are also priced okay, at £1.50 for 85g, but look out for sales as they do often have a 2 for £2 deal on Ocado and Pets at Home!
– The only drawback that I can think of is the fact that not all three flavours are grain free and some of the ingredients are not as high quality i.e. pork fat and stock.
3. WAINWRIGHT’S SALMON AND POTATO
+ So love these treats as they are slightly bigger than the previous two, but can easily be halved if necessary with my fingers. Like the previous two it’s grain free, no diary, no eggs, no soya or fillers and no unhealthy additives!
It’s got 11 ingredients, all super easy to understand and good for Chloe, Salmon (26%), Potato (26%), Barley, Glycerine, Potato Protein, Peas (5%), Beet Pulp (0.9%), Chicory (0.4%), Seaweed (0.3%), Rosemary (0.1%), Marigold (0.1%). For those like me that don’t know, beet pulp is high in essential natural dietary fibre, and chicory root contains a natural prebiotic, so all very good stuff for our pup.
Again, very reasonably priced, £1.99 for 140g pack, so does last us a while. It’s also produced in the EU which means it’s relatively “local” brand, doesn’t have to be shipped from across the world and contribute to air pollution!
– I’d say the only downside is it doesn’t have more flavours, and that it doesn’t specify certain percentage amounts of the other ingredients on their list, the Barley, Glycerine, Potato Protein.
2. EVOLUTION NATURALLY
+ Love this brand as it’s whole premise is to satisfy the natural biological instincts in dogs, by containing a high mixed meat protein content (70%) blended with fruit, vegetables and other botanical extracts, oils, vitamins and minerals (30%). These treats therefore have no grains, gluten or fillers, no artificial colours, flavourings or preservatives.
Once again, love that they are made of 6 ingredients that are easy to understand and recognise: chicken (62%), beef (26%), glycerol, minerals, dried sweet potato, dried spinach. They are also made in the UK which means that you are supporting a UK business!
A high protein content of course means that they are going to give your dog quite a bit of slow release energy, so I would avoid over-feeding these treats. These are definitely large morsels for our spaniel, so what I tend to do is actually cut each treat into 4 which becomes much smaller and easier for Chloe to consume, but also means they last much longer. Bang for buck!
These definitely cost more than the previous ones, as one 200g pack puts me back £4.99, but you can make them last a bit longer if you cut them up. They can be found on offer a few times a year at Pets at Home so keep your eyes peeled!
– The negative is that it’s actually quite hard to find. This brand is made exclusively for Pets at Home, so you are unlikely to be able to find it elsewhere which can be a bit of an inconvenience.
1. ORIJEN BIOLOGICALLY APPROPRIATE FREEZE-DRIED DOG TREATS
+ So where to even start with these?! These are genuinely hands down the best treats out there for your pup and they pass ALL my requirements with flying colours. They are not only made with 100% natural meats, poultry or fish, but they are also gently freeze dried to lock in their freshness – how cool is that?!
To top things off they are super open and honest about the quality of their dog treats. Check out the ingredients in their Regional Red flavour: fresh beef liver (19%), fresh lamb liver (17%), fresh boar liver (14%), fresh pork liver (13%), fresh beef (13%), fresh pork (12%), fresh lamb (12%). Yes, I added that up and it’s 100% FRESH meat! Nothing else!
They have about 8 flavours out at the moment, from from duck, lamb, bison, beef and wild bison, then they have 3 that are a combination of these. They also smell so nice, and they have a very lightweight and unique texture. Chloe actually goes crazy for these, so we definitely use them as a high value treat.
All this protein also means that it’s going to give your dog quite a bit of energy, so do use sparingly and make sure to give your dog proper amount of exercise to let them burn it off.
– The small downside (but I suppose you have to pay for quality!) is that they are pretty expensive compared to the other treats listed above and probably more expensive than most treats you see in stores, at £5.99 for 42.5g.
These are the top treats that are currently in my treat bag for Chloe. I’m always adding and expanding our treat collection so if you have favourite treats that you would like to share with me, please comment below so I can give it a try! Also, if you have tried any of these treats I mentioned above, I’d love to know what you think of them!