There is no dog treat more iconic than the humble, bone-shaped biscuit. Everything from the smell of baked goodness, to the crunching sound when your pup chomps down, has been ingrained in pet culture as the universal experience of doggy snack time.
But should they really be your go-to dog treat? That depends on what they’re made of.
Biscuits can be great treats. However, not all biscuits are made the same. Some are primarily made of less-than-healthy ingredients like wheat and corn—inflammatory, sugary grains that wreak havoc in your dog’s system and amplify everything from leaky gut, to yeast infections, to chronic health conditions like arthritis and fatigue. Others are scrumptious mixes of high-quality meats and awesome veggies that are more biologically appropriate for dogs in general.
These grain-free treats tend to be easier for your dog to digest and provide more energy. Plus, the sheer variety of grain-free treats ensures that there is always something new and exciting for your dog to sink their teeth into.
Grain-in biscuits aren’t the only option when it comes to treat time. And honestly, that’s probably a good thing. Because so many grain-free options are healthier for your dog and they taste better too!
Want examples? Here are some of our favorites…
Jerky and Other Dried Treats
Dried treats are normally only a single ingredient—for example, chicken jerky or dried sweet potatoes. They’re a delicious combination of chewy goodness and easily digestible simplicity. It should be noted though that human jerky treats should not be given to your dog—the seasonings are NOT healthy for your dog to ingest. Instead, try to find something that is just a single ingredient.
Pork, chicken, and turkey jerky are all popular items in this category. However, less typical treats like Cod Skin and organ meat are becoming increasingly popular.
Soft, Meaty Treats
Typically these are extremely savory with mouth-watering aromas that dogs go crazy for. They’re usually lower in calories and easier to tear—which makes them easy to use for training or just as a snack for a good dog.
These are things like our tender line of training bits, bites, and sticks. They’re gently cooked which enables the smell of smokey meat and savory spices to waft out of freshly cracked open bags. The beef varieties even look medium-rare. Honestly, they make our mouths water just as much as our dogs. And not a bit of grain included.
The base ingredients in grain-free biscuits can range from dried beans to organic meat. Typically they contain a higher level of meat content than grain-in biscuits. This means that they have more nutritional value to offer your pup. Of course, they’re still a treat, not a meal—but you can think of them more like a cheese and crackers snack, instead of a candy bar for your dog.
Our Kahoots brand of grain-free biscuit is made with buckwheat flour and smell like flavored crackers. They combine the satisfying crunch you know and love, with the health benefits of being grain-free.
Freeze-dried treats are unique in that they are essentially preserved in a nearly raw state. Freeze-dried meat treats in particular retain digestive enzymes, vitamins, and minerals—most of which are lost if the treat were to be cooked—that your dog’s digestive tract was intended to use and absorb. This nearly raw state is what makes these types of treats so cool. The only healthier, more digestible treat you could feed your dog would be completely raw meat.
But Aren’t Grain-Free Treats Bad for My Dog?
Nope. Not because they’re grain free, anyway.
Grain-free treats tend to be tastier than other grain-in alternatives. They are also generally more nutritious and more digestible, which can lead to less inflammation while giving your dog more energy. They’re often more motivating too because they typically have higher meat content, which is usually more enticing for your dog.
As with any treat, as long as your dog doesn’t have an allergy to the ingredients, and as long as they are not being fed as a meal (and in moderation), grain-free treats are not usually unhealthy. In fact, many grain-free treats are actually healthier than grain-in treats. It all depends on your particular dog, your feeding habits, and the ingredients you choose to feed.