There’s something seriously satisfying about giving your dog a meaty, mouth-watering treat. When those big, wet, puppy dog eyes blink up at you and tails are wagging like a furious flag of dog hair and dirt from the backyard, you forget all about the dollar signs.
Australian pet-parents spend a massive $640 million on dog treats annually. Treat aisles in pet shops are growing exponentially each year, bursting with buzzwords and phrases like “gluten free”, “human grade” and the enigmatic “superfood”. So we forgive you if treat shopping can feel like the most overwhelming task on your to-do list. When making the best choice for your dog’s health is seemingly a minefield – we’ve been there, too.
As your dog ages – and their body changes – so do their dental needs. Treating your dog to good taste and better health can be easy with the right information arsenal.
Welcome to the treat deep-dive: this time we’re dedicated to giving you clarity on how to treat all doggos of all ages. We’ll teach the carefree way to cater to their tastes (and their teeth) for a content canine, every time.
What not to feed your dogs
Before we break it down there’s a few treats it’s time for you to break-up with. Not everything on those glittering pet store shelves are good for your dog: some can be downright dangerous. Don’t let glossy advertising pull the wool over your eyes and let your next treat-choice be an informed one.
Once the headliner of most dog treat recommendations (and sales!), more cognisant pet owners are learning the hidden truth that rawhide manufacturers have deliberately concealed. It’s not just the formulation: bleach, chemicals, dye and glue used to make those creative colours and shapes. It also includes an increased risk of choking if you’ve got a particularly overzealous chewer. The unique design of rawhide means they swell with moisture, a seriously hazardous trait that has resulted in oesophagus and intestinal impactions.
It need not be said that we’re big advocates for the all-natural. We strongly believe that treats should be 100% meat, the paws-down most beneficial ingredient for doggo health and wellbeing. Grains, wheat and gluten are often used as cheap fillers to bulk-up treats and break down manufacturer prices for maximum profit.
If a just-meat treat isn’t on the menu, there’s nothing wrong with some nourishing fruits and veggies to provide beneficial vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Some Machiavellian companies use sugar to artificially enhance the flavour of their products – and to ensure your doggo keeps coming back for more. Sugar might taste addictive but it’s rife with complications; inducing gastrointestinal upset, cavities, obesity and related conditions such as diabetes.
Treats for puppies
In our opinion treats are a non-negotiable necessity in every dog age-group: but they’re also an undeniably important tool for puppy owners everywhere.
If you’ve ever encountered the dreaded puppy tooth you know it’s like a tiny, toothy needle. Puppies have 28 temporary teeth that are ultra-sharp, relatively small and more fragile than their adult counterparts. They generally start falling out around 6 months of age to make way for stronger, more permanent pearly whites. This stage, called ‘teething,’ is often accompanied by sore, swollen gums and an insatiable urge to chew.
It might sound contradictory but it’s pretty simple. Stick to treats that are softer, but still have some crunch, to satisfy teething pains and gently encourage puppy teeth to vacate (but not to break!).
Treats are your one-way ticket to better training and are particularly persuasive with young pups. The best time to nail your sit, stay & speak is when your dog is young. You’ll be setting a stellar foundation of obedience for the rest of their life.
Treats for adult dogs
It’s time to get serious about tooth-scraping. Periodontal disease is no joke and plagues nearly 80% of dogs aged three and over. It’s usually accompanied by terrible breath, dark and yellowed teeth, and eventually rot and decay. As soon as your pooch has a mouthful of grown-up teeth you’re at the starting line for a lifetime of canine tooth care. Prevention is always preferable, and you can save yourself thousands of vet-spent dollars in the future by tackling better dental health now.
100% natural, grain-free dental chews are your best friend. Brushing our teeth might be two minutes of monotony in our daily schedule, but for doggos it can be a delicious luxury. Raw or dehydrated (not cooked!) bones are the most effective for punching back at tartar, as well as being ultra-healthy and packed with vitamins, minerals, calcium and rich phosphorous. If it’s bang for your buck that you’re looking for then antlers, goat horns and hooves are unbeatable.
As with all tough treats’ supervision is a must. Some dogs are overzealous and more inclined to cracking teeth than cleaning them. Proceed with caution if your dog looks to have bitten off more than they can chew and tone-down to the crunchier treats instead.
Treats for seniors
If you’ve got a golden oldie than this is the one for you. By the time your doggo has reached their twilight years they’ve often slowed down, preferring the sofa to high-intensity excursions. Less exercise means an increased likelihood of weight gain. Keep your senior in tip-top shape by treating sparsely, in moderation, and only with low-fat snacks.
By now their teeth are more breakable, particularly if diligent care wasn’t taken in their younger years. Stick to soft, chewy treats to protect teeth but also to encourage blood flow in the jaw and gums.
Treats can be more than just great-tasting. Senior dogs are more prone to aches and pains, particularly in weary joints. Choosing health-boosting and nourishing treats means they can enjoy a delectable snack that also cultivates health and promotes longevity.
Go forth and treat
Now that you’re armed with your complete treat arsenal, you’re ready for the big time. And by that we mean those florescent treat isles, glossy packs and slightly smelly baskets jam-packed with all varieties of animal parts.
There’s no time like the present to nourish your doggo’s health – and choosing the right chew is your first step in a bright, slobbering, puppy-eyed future.