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Why is grain-free and single ingredient important in dog treats?

Words by: WAG Team

Published on: March 25, 2021
Why is grain-free and single ingredient important in dog treats?

Like humans, dogs are what they eat. They rely on us to make the right decisions for their inner and outer health.

There’s a lot of buzzwords in the market, that it can be overwhelming deciding what treats tailor your dog the best. So, here’s our 3-step process for when it comes to choosing your doggo-treat-fit.

A bit about your doggo’s insides

Dogs are very adaptable animals and they are known for being able to digest both carbohydrates and meat – from the crusts off the ends of sandwiches to raw chicken wings straight from the fridge. However, dogs are in fact inherently meat-eaters. It is only with their domestication that wheat, grains, corn, soy and rice have been introduced into their diet.

When we look at different aspects of our dog’s physiology, we can see how their bodies thrive from a meat-based diet. Doggos have pointed molar teeth made to bite through meat and gnaw on bones, and they normally do not produce the right chemicals in their saliva to break down carbohydrates into simple sugars.

Many products on the market have their own unique formulas and ratios of ingredients that it can be tricky comparing and weighing up pros and cons. So if you’re looking for a place to start, having your doggo’s meat-based diet tendencies at the forefront when choosing food and treats is an excellent starting point.

What should I do when choosing food and treats?

1. Read the Ingredients

Seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised by how this sometimes can slip the mind of many dog owners!

Reading the ingredients can be commonplace for what we ourselves consume, and it should be the same when it comes to our doggos. You want to know what all the ingredients are for – no long list of alphabet soup and unpronounceable formulas.

For example, one popular treat that owners often feed is biscuits. They’re economical and not messy. Some biscuit products even state that they have no artificial flavours, colours and preservatives but this does not mean its the best treat for your doggo, particularly when the main ingredient of biscuits generally is grain.

Instead of beef-flavoured biscuits, why not go some straight up 100% single-ingredient Beef Jerky?

2. Understand the Process

When you see keywords like ‘single ingredient’, ‘dehydrated’ or ‘air-dried’, chances are the ingredients list will be short and simple. With dehydrated or air-dried treats, moisture and water is sucked out resulting in a piece of meat that is shelf stable for the pantry. No additives or preservatives are added as there is no viable water content to make the meat go off.

This is different when you see ‘single ingredient protein’ – it’s possible that yes, the dental sticks you are looking at for example are beef liver flavoured i.e. a single ingredient protein, but chances are there are grains or fillers used as a binding agent for that treat.

The process in which a treat is manufactured definitely plays a part in its suitability for your doggo, it’s all about deciphering what it all means. So always ask questions if you’re not sure about the manufacturing process of a treat!

3. Choosing a Protein

The protein you choose for your doggo when it comes to food and treats is a crucial one. It’s their main source of energy, vitamins and minerals to thrive.

We suggest looking at their main health need – is it weight management, skin and coat, gut health, hips and joints, or just something to add to an overall healthy diet? Once you have something you’d like to target or sustain, that narrows down the best protein choice for them. If your dog needs a lean diet, Kangaroo is a great choice. If your dog needs something to help with skin and coat health, Fish is the way to go. If your dog isn’t too fussy, Chicken, Beef and Lamb are yummy and highly palatable proteins.

This super quick and super easy process will help guide you through a lot of the noise that’s out there on the market – how successful has your doggo-treat fit been?