When I first got Mara, I swore that I would only feed her raw, all-natural food and treats. Despite every effort to make that dream a reality, her digestive system never adjusted to raw food (I TRIED THEM ALL) and I ended up moving her back to kibble just as she had eaten when I picked her up from the breeder.
Although raw food didn't work for us, I still stayed true to my promise to only feed her organic and/or all-natural treats and found three incredible products I swear by.
3 Best All-Natural, Healthy Dog Treats
Just like snacks for human kids, not all treats are created equally for dogs. There are so many baked goods and other confections made with sugar, milk, and wheat that do not fit into what I believe is the primal diet of dogs.
I am not trying to act like I know everything about dog nutrition... I don't. But I do know that coyotes and wolves aren't sleeping in caves eating cookies with pink frosting before bedtime.
Unless I'm missing something... How cute would that be though?
For a while, I steered clear of any kind of store-bought snacks and only fed Mara apple slices, bananas, carrots, or homemade treats using all organic honey, oats, eggs, and peanut butter. I loved the idea that I knew exactly what she was eating and that there was no question whether or not she should be eating it.
When I started her in obedience school, it was mandated that I bring "high value" treats so that despite all of the new distractions, Mara would focus on me and the deliciousness of the prospective reward.
Well... nothing you get at home is considered "high value" so I ended up purchasing a baggie of treats at the school before class.
Throughout the course of a 50 minute session, Mara consumed a large number of bacon treats regardless of how small I tried to make them. After the first class, she had explosive diarrhea. I chocked it up to being nervous since she was only 14 weeks old and this was her first socialization with other dogs, but after this pattern was repeated in class #2 and #3, I realized that the fatty, greasy (but I'm sure delicious) bacon treats I purchased for class were most likely the cause.
My understanding of the importance of high-quality treats really came to light at this time. That is when I did my research and came across the 3 best all natural, healthy dog treats in the world - in my opinion.
Breakdown of our top 3 list
Bare Bites are 100% all-natural, dehydrated USDA beef liver crisps that are super easy to snap into small pieces. There are no additives or preservatives, just beef.
I actually just checked my Amazon account and it says I have ordered them 4 times - and that is not including the probably 4 or 5 times I bought them directly from the obedience school when they started selling them.
It sounds so trivial, but I hate dog treats that get under my nails when I'm reaching into the treat baggy or make my hands feel greasy after touching them. These are not like that at all!
They are smooth, thick sheets that you can break into little pieces or keep bigger for additional motivation.
These treats are our training go-to!
I love all things Smallbatch. They put so much emphasis on the quality of their ingredients and end products. Their free-range, antibiotic-free, and hormone-free turkey is locally sourced and produced in California and contains no colorings, additives, or artificial preservatives.
I tried their Turkeybatch and Porkbatch Raw Patties for about 9 months and unfortunately Mara's little tummy couldn't process either recipe; however, I have continued purchasing their Turkey Smallbites and their Turkey Jerky and have been extremely happy with how much Mara loves both!
Ok... real talk for a second. I HATE RAWHIDES. I never understood how dangerous they actually were until I heard Logan (my English Lab) choking on a huge piece one day. They are so scary because the part the dog is chewing on gets really soggy and slippery, but doesn't separate from the rest of the bone that is still hard, so when the dog naturally tries to swallow the slippery piece, it ends up getting stuck in their throat with no way for them to get it out.
When I heard Logan trying to throw up with no success, I immediately reached my hand into his mouth and pulled out a 3 inch piece of rawhide from his throat and threw it in the trash. Because rawhide does not break down easily, it is a severe choking hazard. If you do give rawhides, PLEASE be sure to supervise.
My solution to rawhides is the Earth Animal No-Hides. Mara has tried the salmon, peanut butter, and pork, but likes salmon the most. This "rawhide" is made of salmon, brown rice flour, agar-agar, organic eggs, banana powder, and pineapple stem. It is easily-digestible (which is important for us considering the stomach problems Mara has had) and doesn't pose as much of a choking hazard as traditional rawhide chews because of its composition.
They make several different sizes and can be purchased in packs or individually. I buy the medium two-pack so I can give one to Mara (15 lbs) and one to Logan (80 lbs).
I hope you love my suggestions and try them out for yourself! I am such a stickler about making sure Mara is putting things in her body that contribute positively to her health.
Let me know how much you love these products and if you have any favorite all-natural treats to share with us!