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Dog treats have different classes of being ‘healthy’ depending on who you listen to. This is their story.

This article is too short to discuss every single ingredient and additive that are put into dog food or dog treats< But on the whole, that is far less important than what percentage of the MAIN ingredients are included. And in particular why.

Let’s Look At The Different Type Of Owner Feeding Options And Why Healthy Dog Treats Are Vital To All Of Them

The Raw Feeder

This is the closest category that we believe ACTUAL healthy dog treats are aligned to. True raw feeders feed their dog as close as possible to a carnivore diet. This is based on the companion dog evolution from the wolf 20,000 years ago, and their jaw, teeth, stomach acid and digestion path still essentially being that of a carnivore.

The raw feeder believes animal Protein is the most important ingredient, and the three main ingredients and percentages are:  Meat 80%, offal 10-15%, Bones 5-10%.

Meat provides the highly bio-available quality protein much higher than most plants. Offal provides protein, fats and high levels of specific vitamins and minerals and bones provide bio available calcium and phosphorus in the correct 1:1 ratio.

Meat and its protein is in plentiful supply because it supports muscle growth, repair, energy overall body function.  Eyes, heart even dog hair massively rely on sufficient meat protein that many commercial dog foods lack. Hence the need for high quality meat based dog treats.

The major group of dog owners fall into the next category.

This is because of convenience and that advertising suggest that it is tailor made for their dog. Dog food companies also sponsor and sell kibble and wet food at vets, so vets also promote the next diet as “balanced”.

The Commercial Dog Food/ Dog Treat Diet

This is based on the minimum protein that commercial companies can get away with feeding your dog, to still be considered dog food by aafco (an American volunteer association). Most dog food formulations barely reach the 18% minimum protein requirement, but putting in the minimum 30% dry weight meat.  This means that 60 to 70% of the dog food is usually grain or vegetable matter, with very low levels of protein, and typically not very useable protein.

The third category in dog food and dog treats is FATS.  Aafco only gives a recommendation for crude fats, and Omega 6 – NOT even the Omega 3 levels required!  these might make up 10% of a dog food or dog treat.

THE DYI Dog Food Or Dog Treat Diet

Some people like table scraps, some people mainly give grain based biscuits, others diligently prepare and plate up meals just like they do for their human family. But for cost considerations and tyring to follow commercial dog food guidelines, these are often woefully inadequate in protein your dog needs.

How Do Dog Treats Fit Into The Style Of Dog Food You Feed Your Dog?

This is a fairly easy one to answer if you consider the difference between real raw diets (animal based) and commercial dog food diets.

Firstly, understanding that protein and carbs (the major component of most plant matter used in dog food) have about the same amount of ENERGY, and fats are about x 2.5 the energy of both of these you can see how you can simply substitute dry weight of protein (meat) for carbs (plant matter) without increasing the overall energy content of their diet.

MEAT can supply protein and quality fats (no carbs) and this can also be used for ENERGY. PLANT matter mostly supplies carbs that can only be used for ENERGY, they have protein, but smaller amounts and not as useable by dogs.

It Is Clear That The Major Nutritional Value Of Dog Treats Is In Quality Protein That Is Easy For Your Dog To Digest

But surely plant matter must contribute more than just energy even if it is mostly carbs (sugars) – what else of value is in it?

Well yes plant matter often has a reasonable level of vitamins and minerals, but not as many of either as you might expect after heat treatment.  THAT is why you will see a whole range of vitamins and minerals added to dog food to reach the affco minimum levels.

So really the other major function of plant matter is nice solid stools that are easy to pick up.  Yes, they are MUCH LARGER than a dog feed on a raw diet, and less healthy, but easier to bag. If you are wondering how much the plant matter contributes to keeping things in the intestine healthy, there are two components. One is the non-fermentable fibre. This is the plant matter that can’t be digested and mostly goes through as it came in, it bulks up the poo.

The other miraculous part is semi-fermentable fibre.  From the right source this supplies the good bacteria in the intestines a perfect meal, and they help make the intestine walls solid and healthy.  But fibre is often listed at around 4%. So, YOU DON’T NEED 70% plant matter when the non and semi fermentable fibre is contributing less than 10% overall by weight!

And this is why having healthy dog treats usually means meat-based treats (to boost the useable protein) with either some hair on it, or parts that are not always fully digestible like some parts of the skin. IN the wild these are the original natural fibre wolves and wild dog’s use.

Even if you want to keep your foot in both camps (species appropriate diet – carnivore) and vet recommended commercial food (mostly plant matter) you could easily substitute 20 – 30 % of your dog’s diet with 100% single ingredient MEAT dry jerkies for the same weight of kibble.

The reason why you want dry jerkies is that oven dried dog treats kill ALL of the bad bacteria, they provide ripping options to exercise the jaw and naturally clean the teeth, and the provide an occupier option while you are away from them, without them being over fed, if you were to leave easy to eat kibble like food out.

This article is really like a beginner article on raw feeding versus commercial food, and why most people can really use the many benefits of dried healthy meat dog treats to boost their dog’s quality protein intake! Best of health for you and your dogs!