Healthy Dog Treats vs. Natural Dog Treats: A Comparison

Healthy Dog Treats vs. Natural Dog Treats: A Comparison

Alpha Paw Sale

Jan 14, 2024

A Balance Between Reward And Spoiling

Whether you use treats to train, improve behavioral work, or spoil your furry companion, picking the right ones is vital. Treats serve as a reward for dogs. Additionally, dog treats can play an important role in promoting your dog’s health.

Even when it comes to treats, you’ll want to feed your dog something wholesome and low-calorie to keep them healthy, active, and playful. Ideally, healthy dog treats should include organic and natural ingredients (like our very own Victor’s Doggy Cookies). Many studies have shown that organic and natural dog treats contain more nutritional value than commercial doggy treats.

Like any other pet owner, I also want to see my two-year-old pug attentive and happily growing. For a long time, I had uncertainties about the treats I fed my pug. My pet suffered a lot from various stomach disorders and allergies. As my pug has some weight-related issues, I wanted the best natural dog treats to keep food sensitivities at bay.

After days of research and vet consultation, I compiled a list of the best healthy dog treats, and natural dog treats, to help you pick the best one for your furry friend.

But before we delve into the details, let’s discuss what you should look for when it comes to dog treats.

Healthy dog treats vs natural dog treats

What Should You Look for in a Dog Treat?

I admit that when it comes to choosing the right food for my dog, I take a lot of time. It takes some serious attention to check ingredients and evaluate manufacturers to ensure your dog’s diet will keep them happy and healthy.

I suggest you start with the main ingredients listed on the dog food label. Makes sure that you note how the manufacturer has listed those ingredients. Generally, the list begins with the key ingredients (quantity or weight wise) and continues down the list.

However, if all the ingredients have the same quantity by weight, the ingredients list may order them in any order. The first five ingredients in the list are always significant as they comprise 50 percent of the whole content. As such, you’ll want these ingredients to be of high quality.

The question here is, “What makes dog treats (and pet food in general) high in quality?”

The properties that indicate high quality in your food will denote quality in your dog’s food. When checking for top-quality ingredients, you’ll want these ingredients to be minimally processed, pure, and fresh.

Know that whole pet food ingredients always make a better option than by-products. For example, check if your chosen dog treats include wheat or wheat flour. (Wheat is healthier than wheat flour.) In short, the more reconstituted and processed the ingredients are in the dog treats, the more chances they have to become contaminated and adulterated. Besides this, processing dog food often decreases its nutritional value.

The best way you can assess if ingredients are fresh or not is to check their food makers. The freshest ingredients are available in the USA; if manufacturers include foreign ingredient makers in their labels, they might not be as reliable. I prefer US-grown or domestic ingredients as compared to foreign items.

However, there is an exception for ingredients that are difficult to obtain in the USA, such as organic venison. Even then, if you find dog treats that contain domestically-grown, free-range organic venison, it is better to go for it instead of buying a product with organic venison from Australia. Domestically sourced ingredients will naturally remain fresher than items that need shipping from another country.

Whether you choose commercial dog treats or go for natural dog treats, the labels should be easily recognizable. In other words, there should be no doubt about their source. For instance, if the label says “animal fat” or “meat meal,” these ingredients can come from anywhere. If you find it difficult (or impossible) to determine the food source on the dog treats, refrain from feeding it to your dog.

Choosing natural treats for dogs is ideal in this regard, as they have fewer contaminants. Reliable dog food manufacturers that specialize in making organic dog treats make a good choice as they use ingredients that receive strict scrutiny from food inspectors.

Healthy dog treats vs natural dog treats

Healthy Dog Treats Vs. Natural Dog Treats

There is no denying that natural dog treats are a healthier option, but this does not mean that you cannot feed your dog healthy dog treats. Vets suggest that pet owners watch for two things when choosing healthy dog treats: specific ingredients and calories.

Just like everyone, your furry friend also loves treats and wants to keep on eating them. I usually end up overfeeding my pug, as commercial treats are very small and my little fur buddy can eat them within seconds.

Unfortunately, when the dog treats run out, some pet parents resort to giving their dogs human food as a treat. I do not recommend that substitution as many common household foods are toxic to your pet.

This is where all dog owners need to be vigilant; overfeeding may add to your dog’s caloric intake substantially and may pose health risks. You’ll want to find out the factors that make the best dog treats. Here are a few elements to consider before buying healthy dog treats:

  • Low-calorie count (not more than 20 kcal per treat)
  • A small number of processed ingredients
  • Source and manufacturing of dog treats
  • Types of treats
  • Ingredient quality (preferably all-natural source)
  • USDA certified

Top Picks for Maintaining Your Dog’s Digestive Wellness

Prioritize your dog’s overall well-being with our top picks dedicated to maintaining digestive wellness. Our carefully curated selection of supplements and products is designed to support a healthy gut environment for your canine companion. From probiotics promoting beneficial gut bacteria to digestive enzymes aiding in nutrient absorption, these picks contribute to a balanced and thriving digestive system.

Zesty paws probiotic for dogs - probiotics for gut flora, digestive health, occasional diarrhea & bo
Zesty paws probiotic for dogs - probiotics for gut flora, digestive health, occasional diarrhea & bo
Zesty paws probiotic for dogs - probiotics for gut flora, digestive health, occasional diarrhea & bo
Our Score
  • These functional soft chew supplements feature a base of pumpkin and papaya—two sources of enzymes—plus probiotics for digestion, bowel and immune support.
  • Contains DE111, a bacillus subtilis that supports digestive function and a strong immune system.
  • These chewables contain six probiotics—DE111, Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. plantarum, L. brevis, L. fermentum and L. lactis—to promote proper gut flora and function.
  • May provide relief from occasional gastric distress, including constipation, indigestion, gas and bloating.
  • Paw-fect for small, medium and large breed dogs.
Royal canin small digestive care dry dog food, 3. 5 lb bag
  • Dry dog food specially formulated for small dogs 10 months and older weighing up to 22 lb with a sensitive stomach.
  • Promotes healthy digestion with optimal blend of highly digestible proteins, prebiotics, and dietary fibers.
  • Aids digestion and supports a balanced intestinal flora that also promotes optimal stool quality.
  • Supports digestive health with highly digestible proteins.
  • Perfect complement to Royal Canin Wet Dog Food formulas.
Purina pro plan veterinary supplements fortiflora dog probiotic supplement, canine nutritional suppl
  • This veterinarian-recommended dog probiotic helps support digestive health and manage the symptoms of diarrhea.
  • Recommended for the dietary management of puppies and adult dogs with diarrhea.


Be prepared the next time your dog has an upset stomach by keeping Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Supplements FortiFlora Dog Probiotic Supplement close at hand. Designed to manage the symptoms of dog diarrhea, this digestive care dog food powder supplement contains special probiotics for dogs, plus healthy antioxidants for added immune support. FortiFlora dog digestive health supplements supply dogs with a guaranteed level of live microorganisms to benefit beneficial intestinal microflora and help quell a variety of digestive issues. A proprietary microencapsulation process helps enhance the stability of the probiotics in each sachet, aiding their survival until they can reach your dog’s intestinal tract. This formula is appropriate for use in both puppies and adult dogs, and it can also be helpful for treating excessive gas. Don’t let your best friend suffer tummy upsets any longer than he has to—let this vet-recommended supplement swoop in and save the day!

Native pet vet created probiotic powder for dogs digestive issues - dog probiotic powder + prebiotic
  • Sprinkle on dry kibble as a food topper mix with water for a broth, paw-feet alternative to probiotic chews.
  • Created by vet nutritionists to provide maximum digestive health.
  • Promotes skin health, and effectively controls yeast overgrowth, so your best pal stays comfortable and itch-free.
  • Made with all-natural ingredients for a powerful probiotic and prebiotic digestive supplement.
  • Supports overall gut health, is used as a preventive probiotic for diarrhea, serves every day.
Naturvet – digestive enzymes - plus probiotics & prebiotics – helps support diet change & a heal
  • Formulated to support and balance the digestive tract.
  • Great for dogs with sensitive stomachs and digestive issues caused by stress, antibiotics, a weakened immune system or dietary issues.
  • Features a special blend of probiotics, including veterinary-strength PB6, which helps support good bacteria in the gut and promotes a balanced and healthy GI tract and normal stool quality.
  • PB6 technology enables beneficial bacteria to travel through the complete GI tract for optimal stomach and intestinal balance.
  • Bite-size chew that you can feed like a treat.

Best Choice for Healthy Dog Treats

• Rocco & Roxie

Made from high-quality meat, including chicken, beef, or turkey, Rocco & Roxie offers some of the most reliable, healthy dog treats. The USA-based manufacturers slow-smoke meat for 15 to 16 hours to develop a unique flavor and texture.

The best thing about feeding this treat to your dog is that it does not include common fillers or artificial preservatives such as corn, soy, gluten, and wheat. However, Rocco & Roxie contains a small amount of sodium nitrate and garlic, which can be dangerous or even toxic for some types of canines.

• L’IL Champs – Moist Training Dog Treats

These dog treats make another healthy choice for your furry companion. These dog treats are great for training and do not contain wheat, gluten, and soy. The training treats come with zero artificial colors and flavors. They are also low-calorie and have a sufficient quantity of Omega-9.

• Greenies Dental Dog Chews

Greenies are the top choice of many dog owners as they have 2-in-1 qualities. The dog treats also make tasty dental chews for your pet. Greenies are, no doubt, a healthy choice for your dog, but these treats are not natural. They typically serve to reduce dental issues in dogs as well as satiate hunger.

Greenies are, without a doubt, safe for your dog to chew and digest. They are low fat and can help you maintain and promote the dental health of your dog. These doggy treats can help dogs fight bad breath, plaque, and gum issues. They also add minerals and vitamins to your dog’s daily diet.

• Chicken Jerky Dog Treats

Simpler and meatier, chicken jerky dog treats are USDA certified. Manufacturers use premium quality chicken breasts, which are dehydrated and offer all-natural goodness your dog will love. I found this treat quite healthy and ideal for my dog’s training. The jerky treat helped me supplement my dog’s diet.

The reason I consider this doggy treat a healthy choice for my dog is the manufacture’s guarantee that it is free of preservatives or additives. Note that the jerky strips are extra crunchy and may break after undergoing handling and shipping.

Best Choice for Natural Dog Treats

• Own Organic Treats

These low-calorie dog treats top the list of natural dog food with their benefits for your furry friend. The crunchy, heart-shaped dog treats come in plenty of sizes and flavors, including salmon, sweet potato, peanut butter, and cheese. The recipe contains a blend of natural and organic ingredients and contains no artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors.

The treats are completely organic and natural as there is no wheat, corn, and soy in the recipe. The high-grade meats make the best dog treats as they include only certified organic and healthy ingredients.

• 4Legs Organic All-Natural Dog Treats

Made of 100-percent organic potato puree, 4Legs are delicious bite-sized morsels. The dog treats come packed with fiber and vitamins and can be an ideal choice for a furry companion that suffers from food sensitivities.

The dog treats are all-natural and do not contain wheat, corn, artificial preservatives, or sodium.

• Wet Nose Organic Dog Treats

USD certified, Wet Nose Organic dog treats offer another excellent choice to complement the healthy growth of your dog. The dog treats come in three delicious flavors: pumpkin, peanut butter, and cheddar.

These all-natural dog treats include only human-grade ingredients. That means there are no artificial preservatives, wheat, corn, and animal by-products in these doggy treats. If you buy a pumpkin variant, it smells of ginger and cinnamon, which often soothes a dog’s stomach.

Moreover, these natural doggy treats do not contain dairy or eggs, which are common allergy triggers and may cause gastrointestinal issues for dogs. If you are a dog owner who has spent a lot on your dog’s allergy problems, these natural doggy treats can be a great relief for both you and your dog.

Why Organic Dog Treats Make the Better Choice for Dogs

Naturally, we love seeing our four-legged friends delighted and healthy. And nothing can make them happier than tasty treats. But feeding them too many treats can make them sick and prove harmful to their health, particularly their high-calorie content.

As such, choosing natural treats is ideal. Not only do they help satisfy your dog’s hunger but they offer benefits toward your dog’s long-term health.

Look at these reasons to find out why natural dog treats are beneficial:

They Include Minimal Ingredients

As mentioned earlier, the best doggy treats are ones that have natural or minimal ingredients. Most of the natural dog treats contain only 3 to 4 organic ingredients; this makes it easy for dogs to digest food and maintain their health.

They Contain No Artificial Ingredients

The level of quality sets organic dog treats apart from commercial ones. The single-ingredient natural dog treats are easy to digest because they do not include artificial colors, preservatives, and fillers. This will also help you maintain a healthy weight for your dog.

Feeding your dog natural and organic treats not only aids digestion but also provides them with sufficient energy for their activities.

Commercial Dog Treats

Not all commercial dog treats are healthy. The labels on commercial doggy treats are often misleading. No matter how many times the label states it is non-artificial, if it contains fillers and by-products, it may be harmful to your pet’s health.

The dog treats may also contain vegetables, but this does not mean that they are healthy. It is important to see exactly what vegetable manufacturer has added to the treat. For example, if the treats include beet pulp or corn, these products do not necessarily support your dog’s health.

Bottom Line

Overall, treats make a vital part of your dog’s diet. Feeding your canine the best treats with all-natural ingredients will help them with digestion and can also enable them to live longer.

Make sure that you read the labels carefully before buying dog treats. Give your dog only the best food by confidently choosing dog treats that are the best fit for your dog.


Alpha Paw Sale
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Dr. Ross Bernstein

Member of Alpha Paw’s Board of Pet Experts

Dr. Ross Bernstein is a seasoned veterinarian who we’re fortunate to have as the head of our Board of Pet Experts. Dr. Ross completed his undergraduate studies at Duke University, earning his B.S. in Neuroscience with a minor in Economics and Psychology. He then went on to pursue his doctoral degree in veterinary medicine at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where he was trained under the guidance of some of the country's most renowned veterinary professionals.

After UC Davis, Dr. Ross completed a one-year rotating internship in Medicine & Surgery at the University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine, and recently completed an additional year of further training in small animal surgery at the Las Vegas Veterinary Specialty Center, where he gained extensive experience in complex soft tissue, orthopedic and neurological procedures.

Dr. Ross shares his home with a Golden Retriever named Duma. We’re lucky to have someone as experienced, knowledgeable, and passionate as Dr. Ross in our pack – not only as our trusted advisor, but also as our good friend. Thank you, Dr. Ross!


The medical, nutritional, or behavioral advice we provide is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Our editorial content is not a substitute for formal or personalized medical advice from a veterinary professional. Only board-certified veterinary specialists who have examined your pet should diagnose medical conditions, provide personalized treatment, or prescribe appropriate medication. For questions regarding your pet’s health, or if your pet is exhibiting signs of illness, injury, or distress, contact your veterinarian immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.