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Best dog treat 2021: Meaty treats, biscuits and dental chews for good boys and girls

Jane Hoskyn
26 Oct 2021
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Reward your pooch with a snack that'll go down a treat – without spoiling dinner. We reveal the best dog treats for your best friend

The best dog treat of all is you, of course. But the next best dog treat is a little extra something delicious between meals. Meaty treats and biscuits are great training tools, useful for establishing boundaries and saying "well done". Your four-legged family member deserves better than unhealthy treats laden with sugar and additives, so for this article, we've sniffed out the dog treats that owners and vets love, too.

You can buy almost as many different types of dog treats as dog food these days. From gourmet fishy bites to tooth-kind dental chews that help remove tartar, today's innovative doggy delights are good enough to eat yourself. (If you're tempted, be assured that all pet food and treats in the UK have to be safe for human consumption.)

Skip down the page to discover which dog treats we recommend as the best rewards for your perfect pupper. For more tips on buying and feeding dog treats, read on.

Best dog treats: At a glance

  • Best meaty treats: Lily's Kitchen Beef Mini Burgers | Buy now
  • Best dog biscuits: Bonio Bitesize Meaty Chip | Buy now
  • Best healthy dog treats: Pooch & Mutt Skin & Coat Probiotic | Buy now
  • Best puppy treats: Vet's Kitchen Little Stars Salmon | Buy now
  • Best for nervous dogs: Scrumbles Nibbles Calming | Buy now

How to choose the best dog treats for your pooch

Is it healthy to give my dog treats?

Today's dog treats are specially formulated to complement your dog's main diet, as well as being a tasty way of showing love and approval. "Just because you’re trying to keep your dog healthy doesn't mean that you need to stop giving them treats," is the official advice from The Kennel Club, the UK's largest dog welfare organisation.

The PDSA, the charity that provides vet care for people in need, also approves of well-chosen treats in moderation. "With all treats, it's important not to give too many as sudden changes in diets can lead to stomach upsets," they advise in their blog. "Remember that they all add to your pet’s daily calories, so you might need to cut out some food from their usual diet."

As a general rule, your dog should receive a minimum of 90% of their daily calorie intake from their actual food, and 10% or less from treats. All the treats we recommend below have been specially formulated by dog food manufacturers to be low in sugar, salt, fat and additives. Many offer additional benefits such as high protein, calming effects, and dental cleaning. Our recommended dog treats are all much healthier than giving your pup scraps from the table.

And of course, try to make sure there's a bowl of fresh water available when feeding treats, and always supervise your dog. Excited dogs often forget to chew!

What type of dog treat should I buy?

Dog treats fall broadly into three categories: meaty treats, biscuits, and chews (soft chews, and not-so-soft dental chews).

  • Meaty dog treats should be high in meat content and low in sugar and salt. (Watch out for high sugar and salt in some jerky-type snacks.) Meaty treats are usually quite easy to break into smaller chunks, for example when you're out and about, or if your pooch is inclined to wolf snacks down so fast they barely touch the sides.

Don't worry too much about the phrase 'animal derivatives' on food and treats packets. Meat industry by-products are not usually eaten by people in this country, but they're perfectly safe for dogs and cats.

  • Dog biscuits and other crunchy snacks provide a balance of textures that your pup will love. Be especially careful to provide water with biscuits, since they can have quite a low moisture content (10-12%). They can be harder to break up into little pieces, and some small dogs may struggle with larger Bonio-style biscuits. On the upside, a biscuit may keep your dog occupied longer than a meaty snack, especially if they insist on hoovering up every last crumb.
  • Soft chews have a high moisture content (around 25%) and are really easy to break into small pieces, making them ideal rewards when you're out for a walk.
  • Dental chews are large, long-lasting chews that your dog can chomp on for ages, like a bone. They're sometimes made from animal protein and sometimes from plant-based digestible ingredients. Either way, they're tougher and more abrasive than soft chews or meaty treats, and can help keep your dog's teeth and gums healthy by removing plaque and preventing tartar build-up.

READ NEXT: The best dog toys for tugging, fetching, catching and chewing

The best dog treats you can buy now

1. Lily's Kitchen Beef Mini Burgers: Best meaty treats for dogs

Price: £16 (8 pouches) | Buy now from Amazon

Dog treats don't come much more meaty than the Proper Meat range from UK company Lily's Kitchen. Your pup will have his or her own favourite (you can also get Chicken Bites, Duck & Venison Sausages and more), but our young border collie pal Zola went straight for the Mini Burgers. They're big enough to give a satisfying mouthful, solid enough to slip into your pocket for a walk, and soft enough to break off a small piece to say "well done" while you're out and about.

Lily's Kitchen is a relative newcomer to the pet food market, launching in London in 2014. Their food and treats are made with all-natural, vet-approved, organic ingredients, all in recyclable packaging. Their Mini Burgers are made from freshly-prepared beef, plus chia seeds (source of omega 3 oils, great for your dog's skin and fur) and kale (rich in antioxidants, which help protect your friend from disease). They don't contain any grain at all. The same Amazon page lets you choose different flavours, or a multipack, if you prefer.

Key features – Size: 8 x 70g pouches; Feed: Up to 5 per day; Dogs aged: 4 months+; Other flavours: Duck & Venison Sausages, Chomp-Away Chicken Bites, Chicken & Salmon Nibbles, Mini Duck Jerky, Pork & Apple Sausages

2. Bonio Bitesize Meaty Chip: Best dog biscuits

Price: £1.65 (400g box) | Buy now from Ocado

It's nearly 40(!) years since my beloved Staffie, Rosie, taught me the value of Bonio. Nothing, not even scraps of Sunday dinner (which, of course, you should not feed your dog... nope, forget we mentioned it) made her as happy as a Bonio the width of her face. You can still buy full-sized Bonio (Bonio Original), but Bonio Bitesize Meaty Chip make for a more convenient – and dare we say, even more tasty – treat.

These mini-biscuits are small enough to be manageable by dogs of all sizes, and to feed as pocket treats during or after a walk. They're still substantial though, with a really strong oven-baked crunch that dogs love, and which also has an abrasive action to help to keep their teeth clean. The addition of small meaty chunks makes them more satiating and nutritious than the plain biscuits, and may encourage your dog to chew the biscuits a little more than the plain ones. Great value, too, at just £1.55 for a 400g box.

Key features – Size: 400g box; Feed: Up to 7 per day (medium 15kg dog); Dogs aged: Adult; Other varieties: Meaty Chip, Mini, Happy Fibre, Bonio with Chicken, Bonio Original

Buy now from Ocado


3. Pooch & Mutt Skin & Coat Probiotic Meaty Treats: Best healthy dog treats

Price: £22.99 (7 pouches) | Buy now from Pooch & Mutt

Pooch & Mutt is another UK pet food brand that ensures its dog and cat treats are as healthy and nutritious as its pet food. Its range of Probiotic Meaty Treats are carefully formulated for different benefits: Turkey & Hemp to calm nervous and excited dogs, and Duck & Rosemary to keep teeth clean. But the most popular flavour with our canine friend Zola (to our surprise, we confess) was Shrimp & Coconut, which is formulated for a glossy coat and great skin.

The recipe is rich with omega 3 and essential fatty acids, and also contains collagen for healthy skin, probiotics for healthy digestion, and melon extract for antioxidants, along with vitamins C, E, zinc and biotin. They're grain-free and contain no additives. But perhaps most important, the smallish soft chews smell so delicious we wanted to have a go ourselves. Our hands smelled of coconut rather than shrimp after handling them, which you may find reassuring!

Key features – Size: 7 x 120g pouches; Feed: 10-20 per day (15kg dog); Dogs aged: Adult; Other flavours: Duck & Rosemary (dental), Turkey & Hemp (calming)

Buy now from Pooch & Mutt


4. Vet's Kitchen Little Stars Salmon: Best dog treats for puppies

Price: £1 (1 pouch) | Buy now from Ocado

Most dog treats are formulated for adult dogs aged 12 weeks and older, which can be a bit frustrating when you're trying to form a relationship and establish boundaries with a puppy. So we were delighted to find these soft, star-shaped, salmon treats, which are suitable for pups of all ages, including seniors as well as puppies. They smell great, and they're easy to break into tiny pieces for your active pooch.

Little Stars are made by UK company Vet's Kitchen, a name to trust when it comes to healthy snacks for growing pups. They really are vets, too: the company runs a busy in-house veterinary practice, which sees over 100 pets every day. Their carefully-formulated treats are 48% salmon and contain added glucosamine, MSM and chondroitin to support healthy joints, plus omega 3 and 6. They're wheat and dairy free, and naturally easy on delicate tummies.

Key features – Size: 80g pouch; Feed: "Feed any time as a treat or reward, as part of a calorie-controlled diet"; Dogs aged: All ages; Other flavours: Chicken, Pork

Buy now from Ocado


5. Scrumbles Nibbles Calming: Best calming treats for nervous dogs and bedtimes

Price: £2.75 (1 pouch) | Buy now from Amazon

These little round treats from UK pet food maker Scrumbles contain lemon balm and chamomile, both renowned calming ingredients for dogs as well as humans – and better still, these dog snacks are also 30% top-grade turkey.

They really do work to soothe anxious pups, and to give your furry friend a little extra help winding down for bedtime after another exciting day of zoomies and being helpful. And they're invaluable on stressful occasions like Bonfire Night.

The nibbles are about the size and shape of chocolate buttons, but with a slightly biscuity texture, so they're easy to stash in your pocket on walks. They're grain-free and wheat-free, though, so they're easy on the tummy - and in fact they also contain slippery elm, which is great for sensitive stomachs. A lovely little bedtime snack.

Key features – Size: 100g pouch; Dogs aged: 4 months+; Other varieties: Plant-based, Chicken & Duck, Dental

6. Pedigree Dentastix: Best dog treats for dental health

Price: £13 (56 sticks) | Buy now from Ocado

If your dog is craving a big old bone to chew for hours, then here's a brilliant alternative: a big old X-shaped dental chew that'll keep your pal occupied and happy. Dentastix chews are great value and could save you a fortune at the vet, by helping to keep your dog's teeth and gums free of tartar build-up. Along with their gently abrasive texture, they contain active ingredients to promote production of saliva, which helps keep stinky breath under control.

These full-sized sticks are really quite substantial, so elderly and small dogs may prefer a more dainty variety of Dentastix. And be aware that they do contain cereals (unlike most of our other recommendations) but they're low in fat, and free from artificial colours, flavours and added sugar.

Key features – Size: 1.44kg (56 sticks); Feed: 1 stick per day for 15kg dog; Dogs aged: 4 months+; Other varieties: Many shapes and sizes, including Dentastix for Toy/Small Dogs, Dentastix Chewy Chunx

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