The 8 best dog treats 2024, tried and tested by real pups

Owner giving Beagle a dog treat on the grass
(Image credit: Getty Images'/Darkcloud)

The best dog treats are always handy to have in the cupboard - you never know when you might need them. Whether you're working on your pup's recall skills or teaching a new command, a tasty reward goes a long way when brushing up on training. 

You might be wondering if treats are safe to feed alongside the best dog food and the answer is yes. Just make sure they don't make up more than 10% of a daily calorie intake. Rewarding your dog with a treat is a great way to offer positive reinforcement for dogs, so it's a good idea to find ones they love.

Some dog treats even have benefits, like cleaning plaque and tartar off their teeth. If your dog has a health condition, you might think that treats are off limits but that's not always the case. It goes without saying that you should run it past your vet first, but you might want to look into the best diabetic dog treats and the best dog treats for sensitive stomachs.

Vet Dr. Catherine Barnette says: "To help reduce the calories your dog receives from treats, consider breaking treats in half, using pieces of kibble as treats, or switching to healthier low-calorie alternatives. Doing so will reduce the risk of excess weight gain and ensure your dog remains healthy."

The best dog treats 2024

How we tested the best dog treats

When it comes to buying the best dog treats (or anything for that matter), you want to make sure it's worth your money. As pet owners ourselves, we understand what you're looking for and took various factors into consideration.

We consulted vet Dr. Rebecca MacMillan to find out how to choose a high-quality treat (read below). After getting her expert opinion, we scoured the internet and carefully selected our favorite products. We then called in our team of dog owners to put them to the test, asking them to comment on the following criteria:

Quality of ingredients: Dr. MacMillan recommends dog treats that have high-quality protein as the first ingredient. We kept this in mind when selecting these products - you'll find that most of these treats have just one or two protein-based ingredients. They also have minimal preservatives and additives (if any!)

Taste: It's a no-brainer that dog treats need to be tasty - especially if you're using them to reinforce good behavior. We asked our testers if their dogs enjoyed eating the treats, if they finished them and whether they seemed to want more.

Value for money: There's nothing worse than wasting your money on a bad product. That's why we asked our testers whether they think the treats are worth the price based on quality and quantity. Every dog deserves to be treated, so we tried to include a variety of price points to suit each budget.

Size: As Dr. MacMillan says below, if you're using treats for training, the smaller the better. We asked our testers whether the size of the treats are suitable for training.

Smell and storage: Whilst pet food is never going to smell particularly nice, we asked our testers to comment on the scent of the treat. This can't always be helped, but no one enjoys having smelly hands after feeding them! They also commented on how easy they are to store (like whether the bag is resealable or not).

Dog looking at a dog treat in owner's hand

(Image credit: Getty Images/by vesi_127)

How to choose the best dog treats

When choosing the best dog treat for your dog, there are a few things to bear in mind.

Special dietary requirements: If your dog has gum disease or is overweight, consider opting for a treat specific to them. A low-calorie treat for a dog who needs to watch their waistline means they don’t need to miss out on rewards, while a treat specifically aimed at fighting plaque will help dogs with gum and teeth problems get the best of both worlds.

Health needs: Similarly, for dogs with digestive issues, or just sensitive stomachs, try testing them out on one of the many dog treats on the shelves that specifically promise to be kind on digestion.

Ingredients: The same rules generally apply to dogs as they do for humans. The fewer and fresher the ingredients, the better.

Tastiness: Ultimately dogs will usually get the final say. But if you can manage to find a dog treat that your pet doesn’t turn their nose up at, and that has some great ingredients to supplement their diet, you’ll be in their good books forever. 

Dog being fed a treat

(Image credit: Getty Images/Wavetop)

Vet Dr Rebecca MacMillan says: "The principles behind choosing your pet’s training treats are similar to the ones I advise when you select the food for their main meals. This includes choosing a good quality product, ideally made with whole-food ingredients. It is best to avoid overly processed ingredients or lots of artificial colors and preservatives where possible.

"It is useful to know that the ingredients list on the packaging is ordered by weight, so the first ingredient on the list is present in the greatest quantity, the second is the second greatest quantity, and so on. The ideal treat would feature a high-quality protein item at the top of its ingredient list, so look out for this. Also, ingredients like ‘meat meal’ or ‘animal fat’ are a bit vague and could be from any source. A training treat that actually lists things clearly like ‘beef’ or ‘chicken fat’ gives us some more certainty about the product."

"When it comes to training treat size, the rule is the smaller the better! You will want to give your pet lots of praise and positive rewards during their training, and often this means plenty of treats. Therefore, choosing small treats (or ones that you can break up into smaller pieces) will help you avoid giving too many calories or causing nutritional imbalances in your pet’s diet. If your dog is overweight or more susceptible to weight gain, then I recommend choosing a low-calorie treat. This includes neutered dogs or those on restricted exercise for health reasons."

Dog looking up at treat in owner's hand

(Image credit: Getty Images/Maya Shustov)

Are dog treats necessary?

You might be wondering, “are dog treats healthy?”. Not according to vet Dr. Catherine Barnette who says: “Your dog should primarily be eating a complete and balanced diet appropriate for his or her age and breed. While it’s okay to give treats occasionally, too many treats can lead to excess weight gain.” 

Curated by
Megan Milstead smiling
Curated by
Megan Milstead

Megan is Staff Writer on PetsRadar and graduated from the University of Westminster with a degree in BA Journalism. She covers everything from dog training tips to the best pet products. You'll often find her reading about new training techniques or trying out the latest pet gadgets. As a former dog owner, she knows that treats are one of the quickest ways to a pup's heart. However, with so many options, it can be hard to know what to choose. That's why she's rounded up the best dog treats, taking the ingredients into careful consideration.

Catherine Barnette
Dr. Catherine Barnette

Dr. Barnette is a graduate of the University of Florida, where she received both her B.S. in Zoology and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). She has 15 years of clinical experience as a small animal vet, treating dogs, cats, and occasional exotic patients. She now works as a freelance vet writer, creating educational content for vets, vet team members, and dedicated pet owners. Dr. Barnette lives in southwest Florida with her husband and daughter (plus two cats, a dog, and a rescued dove!) and enjoys kayaking, biking, and hiking.

Dr. Rebecca MacMillan
Dr. Rebecca MacMillan

Rebecca is a vet surgeon who graduated in 2009 from the Royal Veterinary College in London. She has a wealth of experience in first opinion small animal practice, having done a mixture of day-to-day routine work, on-call emergency duties and managerial roles over the years. She enjoys medicine in particular and she is proud to have recently achieved a BSAVA postgraduate certificate in small animal medicine (with commendation). She writes on various feline and canine topics, including behavior, nutrition, and health. Outside of work and writing she enjoys walking her own dog, spending time with her young family and baking!

Megan Milstead
Staff Writer

Megan is a Staff Writer on PetsRader, covering news, features and buying guides. She has a wealth of experience looking after animals, having grown up with dogs, cats and horses all of her life. She’s particularly interested in pet happiness and behavior, which she loves to research in her spare time. You’ll often find her watching webinars on reactivity in dogs or researching cat body language. She loves going the extra mile for her cats Chilli and Nala (who also help out with testing the best products for our buying guides). 

Megan studied BA Journalism at the University of Westminster, where she specialized in lifestyle journalism and was editor of Smoke Radio’s online magazine. She also graduated from West Herts College with a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Journalism. Before joining the PetsRadar family last year, she worked on the editorial team at Harrods and has spent most of her career writing for specialized titles, like RunningShoesGuru, Licklist and Mr. After Party. 

Megan works alongside qualified vets and accredited trainers to ensure you get the best advice possible. She is passionate about finding accurate and helpful answers to your pet-related questions.