Healthy Dog Treats or Tricks?

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In the spirit of Halloween, our fitness post today is about tricks or treats. Specifically, dog treats and how they can sabotage or support a healthy body.


Popularity of Dog Treats

There is no question that dog treats are commonly used by dog owners. According to the American Pet Products Association, treats account for 21% of the average dog owner’s food outlays. It is therefore easy to see how choosing the wrong dog treats, even if you are diligent with your dog food choices, can easily sabotage your pet’s diet.

Some Dog Treats and Tricks

We somewhat randomly pulled some data on a few popular dog treats so that we could compare the calories and ingredients of the ‘tricks’ (i.e., not very healthy ingredients) and the ‘treats’ (i.e., healthier ingredients). A summary of these treats is shown in the table below.





Treat Name


Kcals / treat


First 5 Ingredients


Total Number of Ingredients

Beneful Snackin’ Slices Dog Snacks – Pea Pod 22 Chicken By-Product Meal;Wheat Flour;Ground Yellow Corn;Sugar;Corn Gluten Meal 22
Cesar Treats Filet Mignon Flavor 10 Wheat Flour;Rice Flour;Corn Grits;Sugar;Animal Fat (Preserved With Bha/Bht) 32
Eukanuba Large Breed Adult Maintenance Treats 34 Wheat Flour;Chicken By-Product Meal;Dried Beet Pulp;Natural Chicken Flavor;Brewers Dried Yeast 39
Fresh Pet Dog Joy Beef 12 Beef;Chicken;Ground Oats;Beef Broth;Salt 6
I and Love and You Nothin But Bison 4 Bison Liver 1
Sojos Peanut Butter Honey Dog Treats 14 Rye Flour;Oat Bran;Peanuts;Peanut Butter;Honey 7


Some of the most pertinent observations from this small data set include:

  • Healthier treats contain far fewer ingredients than the less healthy treats.
  • The healthier treats all contain a named real protein source. The less healthy treats do not.
  • The healthier treats do not contain wheat or corn. The less healthy treats include these cheaper fillers.


Overall, it’s pretty obvious by looking at the abbreviated ingredients which group of dog treats are more appropriate for your dog. (Note- you can look up the full ingredients of these in the SlimDoggy dog food database).


Dog Treat Calories Can Make or Break a Feeding Program

With respect to calories, the caloric value of the ‘tricks’ in this example is higher on average than the ‘treats’. However, you can’t judge a treat by its calories alone so don’t use that as your decision criteria when choosing a treat. Instead, use the calorie values in your chosen treats to adjust your dog’s overall feeding program accordingly. For example, if you give your dog 5 of the Fresh Pet Beef treats a day, which translates to 60 extra calories per day that either has to be burned off or his regular feeding adjusted.


A 15 lb. adult dog walking at 2.5 miles per hour would have to walk for 165 minutes to burn those 60 calories. That is more than 2 ½ hours of walking a day. Do you have that extra time?


When it comes to choosing dog treats, avoid the ‘tricks’ and choose the ‘treats’. Make sure to look at the ingredients first to choose treats that are best for your pet. Once you have made your choice, don’t forget to account for those extra daily calories. You can do so by increasing your dog’s exercise time or intensity, reducing their daily food portions accordingly, or both.   The end result will be a more fit and more healthy dog.


Trick or Treat? Happy Halloween.

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  1. Happy Halloween to you. We tend to stick to smaller limited ingredient treats. But I recently discovered that Freighter really likes green beans. Like get super excited and do back flips excited…lol. I guess if he ever needs to watch his weight that could be a choice. 🙂
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…A Halloween StoryMy Profile

    • String beans? Well that’s good – Jack likes brussel sprouts and broccoli! So weird.
      mkob recently posted…Halloween – SlimDoggy StyleMy Profile

    • That’s so funny because Laika’s all time favorite treat are snap peas, it’s very odd but I’m grateful she’s so motivated by something simple. I must say it’s quite amazing to think it takes that much effort to burn off 60 calories AND that treats account for 21%; I never realized how many treats our dogs actually consume, it’s pretty alarming.
      Jen Gabbard recently posted…5 Myths About Resource GuardingMy Profile

  2. Rocco loves frozen green beans, right out of the freezer! We’re definitely for tricks FOR treats but not tricky treats! Happy Halloween!
    Diane recently posted…Welcome to #BarkWorld: Dog Cookie Cook-off and RecipeMy Profile

  3. Hi Y’all!

    I love fresh fruit, but it’s kind of hard for the Humans to carry around with them…not to mention my Human Mama is allergic to bee stings. My Human Papa sneaks me goodies, but if my Human Mama sees him she cuts my supper ration. Isn’t that just the meanest thing you ever heard?

    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Training or Not?My Profile

  4. Holy bully sticks! 30+ ingredients in a treat! Yikes. We try to stick with the better brands, healthier treats or we make our own. This was interesting to see.
    Emma recently posted…Sniffing Out HalloweenMy Profile

  5. Barley and I try to get healthy treats that are also easy to break up into several little pieces so she thinks she’s getting lots of treats without her actually getting lots of calories 🙂
    Beth recently posted…Rest Week and October Resolution Recap (Plus a little Spooky Fun!)My Profile

  6. We always look for the simplest ingredients in our treats. I dehydrate a lot of apples and sweet potatoes. I am thinking of attempting to dehydrate chicken gizzards. I read about it on another blog.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Halloween SpooktacularMy Profile

  7. wow we really don’t look at the ingredients in treats, 29 ingredients that’s a lot and from a well know company.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Nothing But Norman #68My Profile

  8. My huskies love healthy treats. The all natural freeze dried treats are their fav!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Siberian SaturdayMy Profile

  9. Great posts! Even our pets deserve a Halloween treat. Thanks for sharing this information!

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