Are treats good for dogs? We love to give out treats to our dogs and we get dog “smiles” in exchange. Giving your dog a tasty treat now and then can have real-life benefits.

Table of content

Are treats good for dogs? In this article, we will cover:

Why giving your dog treats in the first place?
What about dog treats safety?
What dog treats are safe?
What treats are good for puppies?
So, how many dog treats per day?
Wrapping up

Healthy dog treats can be made at home
Healthy dog treats can be made at home. Image by Susan Q Yin on Unsplash

Why giving your dog treats in the first place?

There are so many more reasons why using dog treats is great for you and your furry companion. Let’s have a look at some of them.

  • Training: We all want our dogs to do what we ask, and dog treats can do the trick for this to happen. Dog training treats can be used to teach new tricks and behaviors. Dog treats are a very strong motivational tool during training sessions. The tasty form of positive reinforcement helps your dog during socialization, obedience training, or following commands.
  • Nutritional supplement: Nutritious and healthy as some high-quality dog treats can be, they give us a chance to optimize nutrition in dogs by boosting vitamin and mineral content. Healthy dog treats can help meet daily nutritional requirements according to your dog’s age and level of activity. A senior dog might benefit from dog treats with joint or hip formulas to keep them moving.
  • Medicine delivery: If your dog is ill and having a hard time taking prescribed medicines, dog treats can be used to deliver them. Hiding a tablet or capsule inside a treat is the simplest way to give a medication. The dog treat’s aroma will mask the scent of the medicine while still naturally appealing to your dog.
  • Bad breath and plaque buildup: Your dog’s slobbery kisses and hugs can become less desirable with bad breath. You can get rid of your dog’s bad breath, plaque build-up, and tartar with dental dog treats. The hard and textured nature of dental treats helps to remove excessive build-up from the teeth and freshen up their breath.
  • Anxiety relief: Our furry companions are capable of feeling a lot of emotions, just like us humans. Dogs can suffer from stress and anxiety as well. You can offer your dog calming treats to help ease general anxiety, aggressive behaviors, and stress.
  • Build confidence: Dog treats can be used to help build confidence in your dog pals. The good thing is that most dogs, even skittish and nervous ones, will work for a treat.
  • Increase IQ: If your pooch is lacking in the brain department, dog treats can help him. They can really make your doggy smarter. You can hide treats at home and ask your dog to seek them out with its nose. This is actually a great enriching experience for your dog.
  • Develop better relationships: People love giving treats to their dog buddies. This is a great way to create bonds with your dog, and that’s a superb thing.

What about dog treats safety?

Choosing healthy treats for your dog is not always easy. They are a critical part of your dog’s thriving health so care should be taken selecting treats. There are so many options out there and one tends to get confused easily.

So, what are the best dog treats? It depends on your dog, their diet, and what you’re trying to achieve.

When buying dog treats, consider the size, texture, and shelf-life of dog treats. Select treats that are low in chemicals, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and preservatives. Choose the ones that are best for you and your dog.

What dog treats are safe?

Make sure the treats that you give to your dogs are free of choking hazards. Dog treats should be appropriate for your dog’s age, size, and chew strength.

Treats that are not safe for your dog’s include:

  • Desserts like cake, cookies, and pies (high in sugar)
  • Chocolate and candies
  • Macadamia nuts and walnuts
  • Beer, wine, or anything that includes alcohol
  • Cooked bones that are likely to splinter
  • Grapes
  • Onion and garlic
  • Avocado
Are treats good for dogs? Well, it depends. Foods not allowed as dog treats (not at all considered healthy dog treats): Desserts (sugary foods), chocolate, macadamia nuts and walnuts, alcohol in any form, cooked bones (likely to splinter) grapes, onion and garlic, avocado
Unhealthy treats that you should not allow your dog to eat. Hungry dude from an image by Charles Deluvio from Unsplash


Pro tip: If your fur buddy eats something toxic, contact your Vet as soon as possible.

What treats are good for puppies?

Dog treats are a must-have when you’re raising a puppy. Treats will greatly help with training and rewarding good behaviors.

Puppies have specific dietary needs to keep them healthy and strong. When looking for puppy treats, keep in mind the following factors:

  • Puppy treats should smell and taste great
  • Puppy treats should be low in calories (calories should be obtained from regular puppy food sources)
  • Puppy treats should be small in size or easily chewable into smaller pieces (remember that puppies have not-so-strong deciduous teeth that permanent teeth have not yet replaced)
Healthy dog treats are not only for grown-up dogs. Puppies are allowed to have treats but only as a supplement to a regular balanced diet
Puppies are allowed to have treats but only as a supplement to a regular balanced diet. Modified from an image by Ryu Orn on Unsplash

So, how many dog treats per day?

Wondering how to keep your dog on the way to a healthy body and a happy mind? Sometimes dogs get too many calories from their treats.

Remember the 10% rule: Dog treats can add a significant number of calories to your dog’s daily diet. Remember that treats should be given to your dogs in moderation.

Dog treats should make up to no more than 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake. A balanced diet should always be the base you start from.

How to calculate how many treats per day?

How do we make sense of our dogs not eating more than 10% of their daily energy from treats?

Here is a rough estimate you can easily make at home.

Rule 1:

A normal dog (not overweight) should eat 2% of their body weight in food daily.

Rule 2:

Of that amount, 10% is the maximum amount of treats allowed per day (otherwise your dog might get overweight or even worse, obese).

Let’s see an example so it all makes sense:

Suppose you have a dog of a large breed, weighing 100 lb (or 45.4 kg)

Dog treats for a large breed (great Dane), an example

Multiply body weight times 0.02 (to calculate the 2% daily food allowance)

100 lb * 0.02 = 2 lb (roughly the amount of food this dog should be eating daily)

or in kg:

45.4 kg * 0.02 = 0.9 kg (daily food in kg)

Now multiply that value times 0.1 (to estimate the 10%)

2 lb * 0.1 = 0.2 lb

0.2 lb * 16 = 3.2 wt-oz

or in kg

0.9 kg * 0.1 = 0.09 kg

0.09 kg * 1000 = 90 g

In this example, you could give this dog more or less three treats of 1 wt-oz each per day or perhaps (in grams) four treats of approximately 22 g each per day.

One more example, but this time of a small dog breed.

Dog treats for a small breed (Yorkshire), an example
Our model this time is Solimar, a very cute girl dog

Solimar is a cute 6 lb Yorkshire
She should eat approximately 6 lb (her weight) * 0.02 (which is 2% of her body weight)

= 0.12 lb of food per day (~ 2 wt-oz or 54 grams/day)

How much in treats? 0.12 lb * 0.1 (10%) = 0.012 lb (0.2 wt-oz or 5.4 g) of treats per day. Just that tiny amount!

Weight management plans may include treats. Some examples of low-calorie treats include non-starch vegetables. Some ideas of low-calorie treats for overweight or obese dogs are carrot sticks, cucumber slices, broccoli, and even small pieces of cooked lean meats. Excessive amounts of dog treats may result in stomach upset or allergies. You may consider asking your Vet to get an idea of how many treats your dog needs. You can always have a rough idea of whether your dog is becoming too heavy by weighing them or by checking an overweight score.

When feeding dogs excessive numbers of treats they can become overweight or even worse, obese
When feeding dogs excessive numbers of treats they can become overweight or even worse, obese. Image by Artem Bryzgalov on Unsplash

For extra-long training sessions, cut dog treats into smaller pieces.

Wrapping up

In a nutshell, dog treats can be a wonderful thing for your fur buddies when you use them wisely. Treats are part of an integral view of an enriched environment for your dogs.

Learning when and how to use dog treats can benefit your dog’s health and happiness in many ways. Dog treats come in a variety of formulas and flavors to suit your dog’s needs and taste buds.

By now, you must have a good idea of what treats should be given to your four-legged friend. Always ensure to store dog treats somewhere covered and dry.

If you want to know more about dog treats and nutrition, we highly recommend checking out the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) website. As an organization that sets standards for pet food and feed ingredients in the United States, the AAFCO offers valuable insights into what goes into your furry friend’s diet. On their website, you can find information on dog nutrition and pet food regulations, including guidelines for dog treats. Check it out!

What healthy treats does your dog friend enjoy the most? Let us know in the comment section. We would be happy to hear from you!

Credit feature image: Tamara Bellis on Unsplash


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