Best dog treats that won’t break the bank

Feeding your pup quality treats doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg! My mission to find good-for-you treats has led me to read every single ingredient label I could get my hands on, and the result is a list of vetted treats that are guaranteed to make both your pup and your wallet happy and healthy.

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It all started with my own relationship with health

Any story about how and what I feed Lion, has to begin with my own journey with wholesome eating at age 24. Having had no allergies whatsoever prior to that, I was shocked when, at age 24, I found myself suddenly suffering from eczema and being told by doctors that I would need to take medication every day for the rest of my life to control my symptoms. I had no choice but to take the medication, since without it I would be woken up in the middle of the night by itchy hives all over my body every other day. One day, I even had to call in sick at work because my eyes were swollen shut when I woke up in the morning!

I hated the idea of being dependent on medication starting at such a young age, so in an effort to cut down my medicine intake, I soon started researching natural ways to manage my symptoms through diet and lifestyle changes. Over an experimental period where I tried the elimination diet, Paleo diet, Whole 30 diet, etc… I realized that what made me feel best (and less itchy!) was a diet that consisted of natural, high quality, whole foods. And I quickly found out that most people, even if they have no health issues, feel even better when they switch over to a diet of natural, high quality, whole foods as well. And if this is how human bodies thrive, I truly believe that this is how dog bodies also thrive!

The importance of careful treat selection

Very much like with humans, a dog’s diet is possibly on one of the most important investments you could make in their long term physical health! But choosing the right treats is especially difficult, since it seems like every treat package uses ambiguous marketing terms that conjures the image of a fresh slab of steak slow dried in a home kitchen (and you know that can’t be true). Therefore, it is up to us to read beyond the shiny packaging, to see what the treat is all about.

And let’s not forget the importance of affordability, we are not made of money! The beauty of looking beyond the shiny packaging is that I’ve found many low quality treats hidden in shiny packages with high price tags, while many high quality treats sit ignored in more modest packages with reasonable tags. Below, I will share some of my best finds with you! For the ultimate affordability, I actually make dog treats at home from time to time – much cheaper than buying ready made treats of the same quality. But since that is not always realistic given everything else going on, I also keep a stock of high quality store bought treats at home.

What I look for in treats

  • Natural ingredients: No artificial preservatives, no artificial colors, and no chemical humectants (substances that keep the treats moist). If you can’t avoid humectants, choose a natural source such as molasses or vegetable glycerin. Artificial colors are just bad news, if your dog who’s eating the treat doesn’t care about its color, why should you?
  • High quality ingredients: Ingredients (especially meat) sourced from countries with strict food quality regulations, and organic certification if possible.
  • Whole food ingredients: Unprocessed ingredients are best, since the more processed it is, the more chance there is of contamination and nutrient loss. If there is meat, look for whole animal sources instead of meat “meal”, meat “by product” or meat “fat”, which are rendered from by products of human meat production (i.e., deemed undesirable for human consumption).
  • Affordability: Because I’m not made of money, and Lion eats a LOT of treats 🙂

My pick for the best affordable dog treats

Short of making your own dog treats, below are some of the best affordable treats I’ve found on the market. Ranging from peanut butter training treats to “chicken nuggets”, I hope the treats in this list will keep your dog (and your wallet) healthy and happy!

Chicken Strips by Full Moon (Buy it on Amazon): These chicken strips are hard and brittle and can be snapped into smaller pieces by hand. If you want to keep your dog distracted, these are a little more durable and a good choice vs. the other Full Moon options!

  • Ingredients: Chicken, organic cane sugar, vinegar, rosemary extract.
  • Manufactured in the US with human grade, US sourced ingredients. No filler is used.
  • Price per lb: $13.32 / lb.

Chicken Nuggets by Full Moon (Buy it on Amazon): These chicken pieces (size and shape of chicken nuggets) are leathery in texture, and can be easily ripped by hand into smaller pieces.

  • Ingredients: Chicken, organic cane sugar, salt, vinegar, dried cultured skim milk, natural smoke flavor, rosemary extract.
  • Manufactured in the US with human grade, US sourced ingredients. No filler is used.
  • Price per lb: $13.19 / lb.

Chicken Fillet by Full Moon (Buy it on Amazon): Similar to Full Moon’s Chicken Nuggets in texture, but in larger strips. Huge bonus is that this comes in a wholesale pack, which drops the price per lb by 25% compared to the chicken nugget! If you shop at Costco, these can also be found in select Costco stores and on Costco.com.

  • Ingredients: Chicken, organic cane sugar, salt, vinegar, dried cultured skim milk, natural smoke flavor, rosemary extract.
  • Manufactured in the US with human grade, US sourced ingredients. No filler is used.
  • Price per lb: $9.91 / lb for the 3lb wholesale pack.

Freeze Dried Beef Liver Bites by Chewmasters (Buy it on Amazon) : Made with just one ingredient, it doesn’t get much better than this! The relatively small size means they’re the perfect size to be a high value training treat. Don’t be discouraged by the higher price per lb, freeze dried treats are lighter and less dense, giving you more volume per lb.

  • Ingredients: Beef liver.
  • Manufactured in the US.
  • Price per lb: $17.93 / lb. Note: The price per lb is significantly higher than other items, but freeze dried treats are lighter and less dense, giving you more volume per lb than other non-freeze dried treats of the same weight.

Freeze Dried Cheddar Cheese by PureBites (Buy it on Amazon): If your pup loves crunchy treats and cheese, then they will love this! Similar to the freeze dried beef liver, this is a single ingredient (read: no bad additives) treat with a satisfying crunch and that cheesy flavor your dog loves.

  • Ingredients: Cheddar cheese.
  • Sourced and made in the US.
  • Price per lb: $21.75. Note: The price per lb is significantly higher than other items, but freeze dried treats are lighter and less dense, giving you more volume per lb than other non-freeze dried treats of the same weight.

Freeze Dried Chicken Breast by PureBites (Buy it on Amazon): Similar to the freeze dried cheddar and beef liver, this treat boasts one ingredient only! If your pup likes chicken, then he will sure enjoy this crunchy version of his favorite food.

  • Ingredients: Chicken breast.
  • Sourced and made in the US.
  • Price per lb: $29.39. Note: The price per lb is significantly higher than other items, but freeze dried treats are lighter and less dense, giving you more volume per lb than other non-freeze dried treats of the same weight.

Peanut Butter Little Stars Training Treats by Wet Noses (Buy it on Amazon): These pea sized treats are great for dogs who are being trained, or who need to be given frequent rewards throughout the day. The small size means you’ll spend less time portioning treats, and more time training.

  • Ingredients: Organic rye flour, organic canola oil, organic peanut butter, organic cane molasses
  • Manufactured in the US with human grade, organic, US sourced ingredients.
  • Price per lb: $10.28 / lb.

Sweet Potato Little Stars Training Treats by Wet Noses (Buy it on Amazon): To keep it exciting for your dog, alternate between this and the Peanut Butter Little Stars Training Treats!

  • Ingredients: Organic rye flour, organic canola oil, organic sweet potato puree, organic cane molasses, organic cinnamon, organic ginger
  • Manufactured in the US with human grade, organic, US sourced ingredients.
  • Price per lb: $10.28 / lb.

Now I’m curious to hear from you… What are your go to treats for your pup, and how do you decide on them?

Kelly

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