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Best dog treats: Six ways to let them know they've been a good boy or girl

best dog treats
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The best dog treats... there’s no better way to show your dog how much they’re loved – or more effective way of getting them to sit on command.

Since dogs can’t tell us what treats they like best, we humans have to do the hard work. Without the option to sample dog treats ourselves, the next best thing is to do our research and find one with good ingredients and glowing reviews.

It’s important to choose the right treats for your dog, depending on their individual needs and health. For a smaller dog with a weight problem or health condition, for example, you might opt for healthier, leaner treats. For an especially active dog, or for a particularly fussy dog you’re trying to train, you might opt for a more indulgent treat to use as a little reward. If your dog is prone to digestive problems you could take a look at our round-up of dog treats for sensitive stomachs.

We’ve done the hard work to bring you a round-up of some of the best dog treats on the market. We’ve rifled through everything from chew bars to choc drops to pig’s ears, and everything in-between, to guide you – whether you’re looking for a budget or luxury option. 

Here’s our buying guide for the thoughtful dog owner, with a rundown of the best dog treats for your dog’s needs.

best dog treats Lily's Kitchen Dog Treats Mini Beef Burgers

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1. Lily's Kitchen Dog Treats Mini Beef Burgers: Best overall dog treat

Mini beef burgers with freshly prepared beef

Contains: 80% beef | Ingredients: : Sustainably sourced | Packaging: Eco-friendly | Recipe: vet-approved

Simple recipe with natural ingredients
Eco-friendly packaging
Not many treats per bag

According to the company, Lily's Kitchen Dog Treats Mini Beef Burgers are the ‘best ever’. While only dogs can truly be the judge of that, it seems these treats go down a storm with dog owners.

Each little round burger is 80% freshly prepared beef. Other ingredients – all sustainably sourced – include pea protein, antioxidants, kale and chia seeds, which are high in omega 3, which has been linked to bone health in dogs. And they’re oven baked, too, supposedly for better taste.

They’re 383 calories per 100g and each individual treat is made up of 43% crude protein and 2.5% crude fibers – that’s a lot of ruff-age… sorry!

You can feed your dog up to five of these treats a day, according to Lily’s Kitchen, and they’re suitable for dogs four months and older. They’re not tailored to any particular breed or need, but they seem to go down particularly well with dogs with sensitive tummies.

You can buy them in 70g bags, as well as in multipacks of eight if you trust your dog won’t find a way to go rifling through the treat drawer after dark. Lily’s Kitchen says they’re the perfect snack for training, in-between meals or ‘just because’.

You’re not going to get the absolute best value for money with these treats, but they go down a storm with customers’ dogs, and they’re full of healthy ingredients for your dog.

Click here to read the full Lily’s Kitchen Dog Treats Mini Beef Burgers review.

Best dog treats Bounce and Bella Premium Grain Free Poultry Training Treats

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2. Bounce and Bella Premium Grain Free Poultry Training Treats for Dogs: Best budget dog treat

Grain-free dog treats made from poultry and potato

Ingredients: All natural | Contains: No artificial additives | Hypoallergenic: Yes | Recipe: 5 ingredients

Simple recipe
No additives
Money-back guarantee
Treats come in no-frills packaging

These Grain-Free Poultry Training Treats for Dogs might look basic, but they certainly pack a punch for their price tag.

The ingredients in these potent little treats are 80% poultry, and 20% potato and sweet potato. That’s right – nothing else. That’s one meaty ratio.

The poultry in each bone-shaped treat is made up of chicken, duck and turkey, to cater to all dogs’ taste buds. And freshly prepared poultry, at that, according to Bounce and Bella.

The treats are grain-free, which the brand says helps your dog to have better digestion and more energy, less weight gain and healthier skin. Each treat contains 20% crude protein and 2% fiber. They’re hypoallergenic, too, so better suited to dogs with allergies or intolerances.

These little treats might not be much to look at, but because they’re so small, they’re perfect to pop in your pocket when you’re going on a dog walk, or as a reward during training. They only contain 2.4 calories per treat, so they’re perfect for dogs who need a fair bit of tasty praise in order to learn. There are a whopping 800 treats per bag, or thereabouts.

And if you don’t like them – or, should we say, your dog doesn’t like them – Bounce and Bella offers a 100% money-back guarantee. But that’s unlikely; there’s no arguing with the fact that, as far as ingredients go, these are one of the best quality dog treats on the market.

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. Hill's Healthy Weight Dog Treats: Best treats for overweight dogs

Low-calorie dog treats with a crunch

Contains: Cereals and vegetables | Recipe: High fibre | Recommended for: Overweight dogs | No: Artificial ingredients

Contains vegetables
Enriched with vitamins and minerals
Not the most exciting to look at

According to recent research, most dog treats on the market exceed the recommended daily allowance for dogs.

Whether your dog is on a diet, or needs a low-fat diet for health reasons, there’s no reason they have to miss out on treats every now and again. There’s a great selection of low-fat and low-calorie options out there for slimming pooches – including Hill’s Healthy Weight Dog Treats.

These little bone-shaped treats are made with cereals, vegetables and meat derivatives, and are specifically designed for overweight and obese dogs, and those prone to putting on weight.

Each oven-baked treat contains 22% protein and 3.8% crude fiber, and is only nine calories – the perfect snack for dogs watching their waistline, and for dogs that like a good crunch, too. They’re also enriched with vitamins and minerals so that even dieting dogs don’t have to miss out on their nutrients.

Hills uses scientific research to inform the creation of its dog foods and dog treats, and the brand describes itself as a global leader in nutritional healthcare for animals.

The low-calorie dog treat market is rather limited. While Hill’s aren’t the lowest calorie dog snack on the market (some weigh in at just three calories per treat), Hill’s dog treats fare much better than most for the quality of its ingredients, especially as they contain no additives.

These little bite-size, bone-shaped treats come in bags of 220g, and are suitable for dogs aged eight weeks and over.

best dog treats Billy + Margot's Venison Treats

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4. Billy + Margot's 100% Venison Treats: Best gourmet dog treats

Grain-free venison dog treats

Ingredients: Grain-free | Contains: No preservatives | Weight: 75g | Hypoallergenic: Yes | With: Vitamins and minerals

Re-sealable bag for freshness
Good quality ingredients
On the expensive side

If only the very finest dog treats will do for yourdog, look no further than Billy + Margot's dried Venison Treats. They’re made from premium Scottish Highland venison meat that’s been air-dried for a premium snack.

They contain no artificial colors, additives or preservatives, and each 75g packet contains almost 50g of crude protein. A whopping 250g of fresh meat goes into every 100g of dried product, which explains why they’re so rich in protein.

Each Billy + Margot product is formulated to meet nutritional levels established by AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for adult maintenance. They’re also hypoallergenic, which means they’re good for dogs that have intolerances to some ingredients in other dog treats. 

According to Pet MD, venison contains less fat and cholesterol than beef, which is why it’s an increasingly popular meat in dog foods. It’s also a good source of B vitamins and minerals including zinc and iron, which can help dogs maintain healthy energy levels.

Venison is a novel protein, which is why it could help reduce allergens and skin irritations for dogs that are intolerant to some ingredients.

There are numerous dog treats on the shelves that cater for the more discerning dog, but they don’t all put their ingredients where their mouths are. The recipe for these venison treats, however, stands out from the crowd. They are on the more expensive side, but for the very good boys and girls, they are worth the splurge.

best dog treats Good Boy Choc Drops

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5. Good Boy Choc Drops: Best sweet dog treats

Chocolate substitute dog treats

Recipe: Specially formulated chocolate substitute | Contains: Added vitamins and minerals | Ingredients: No sugar

Good value
Not the healthiest treat

We dress our dogs in clothes, take them for massages and even bring them to yoga classes, so why can’t we feed them special dog chocolate treats every now and again?

Human chocolate is poisonous for dogs, but that doesn’t mean they need to miss out on the indulgence. Good Boy’s Sugar-free Choc Drops are the perfect alternative to chocolate that won’t result in an emergency trip to the vets.

They’re made from a specially formulated chocolate substitute that’s suitable for dogs. They look just like human chocolate, too, so your dog will never have to know the difference. But don’t worry – they aren’t toxic to humans so there’s no need to panic if your children accidentally mistake one for a Cadbury’s button.

They’re suitable for all dogs over the age of three months. Good Boy recommends small dogs can have up to 10 drops per day, medium dogs can have 12-15 drops per day, and large dogs can have 24-36 drops per day. This makes them the perfect treat to pop in your pocket on walks when you need to bribe your dog to walk a bit further, or distract them from a squirrel.

Each button is made up of 6% protein and almost the same amount of calcium. They’re not the healthiest treat on the market, but they do contain minerals, vitamins A and D, cereals and milk. They’re also sugar-free. There aren’t many other dog chocolate products on the market, but these are by far among the healthiest unhealthy dog treats.

best dog treats Greenies Dental Treats

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6. Greenies Original Dental Treat: Best dental dog treats

Vet-recommended dog chews designed to fight plaque

Fights: Plaque and tartar | Promises: Fresh breath and clean teeth | Choose from: Four different sizes | Flavoured: With natural spearmint

Made with natural ingredients
Freshens breath
Generous size
Long ingredients list

These chewy dental dog treats claim to provide a 'meal's worth of goodness' for dogs. They clean teeth, remove plaque and tartar, and – a relief for owners whose dogs like to greet them with a slobbery kiss in the morning – they freshen breath, too.

The chews work in a similar way to a toothbrush. They gently scrape the surface of the tooth to help brush away plaque and tartar that could otherwise cause problems. Greenies says feeding your dog these treats could result in 60% less tartar accumulation and 32% less plaque accumulation

These dog treats come vet-recommended, and promise to help digestion with their highly soluble ingredients. These ingredients include wheat flour, minerals and vitamins and a natural poultry flavor. While the ingredients list isn’t necessarily the best quality, each treat contains added vitamins and minerals. And every spearmint-flavoured toothbrush-shaped treat contains 30% crude protein and 6% crude fiber.

In addition, every Greenies treat adheres to the Association of American Feed Control Officials standards for pet food.

There are six different packet sizes to choose from, ranging from 11 to 130 treats per bag. They are suitable for dogs that weigh over 5lbs and over the age of six months.

Greenies also offers smaller versions of this treat, as well as a range of other treats, such as pumpkin spice, gingerbread and blueberry flavoured treats, as well as products specifically tailored towards puppies and older dogs.

There are numerous dog treats on the market aimed at oral health, and these are one of the most popular.

How to choose the best dog treat for your dog

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

First, if your dog has any special dietary requirements or health needs – such as gum disease or being overweight – consider opting for a treat that is specific to them. A low-calorie treat for a dog that 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.

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.

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

There’s a lot to consider when picking the right treat for your dog – and, ultimately, they 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. 

For extra brownie points, you could try and make your own homemade dog treats.