When we adopted our pup, Pidgin (pictured above, in all her cuteness, waiting for a treat), in December, we immediately raced to the closest pet supply store to buy all the necessities: a bed, ALL of the toys, a collar, etc etc. But when we got to the treat aisle we had no clue where to start. After all—what you feed your dog matters (a lot) so we wanted to make sure we chose quality treats that she'd not only love, but would be nourishing and healthy for her. After exhaustive research (on our part) and extensive testing (on her part) we collectively landed on some favorites. We were going to use a 5-star rating system but (spoiler alert) they all deserve 5 stars.
Andy's Dandys Biscuits
What I love even more than a treat made from simple, nutritious ingredients is one made by a company with a mission behind it, built by kind and wonderful people, like the folks at Andy's Dandys (we've exchanged many emails, and they're a delight). Andy's Dandys was founded in 2008 by mother-daughter team Lucie and Marie, in an effort to provide a place for their son/brother Andrew to pursue his interest of exploring healthy recipes with his love of their family dog. Also, importantly, they created the company as a way to support him in his transition from high school to adult working life, since people with Down Syndrome can have a difficult time find a meaningful job . They now focus on supporting late teens and young adults with disabilities during that transitional time in life when we learn how to be an employee, teaching real work-based concepts and skills that students can take with them in their job search for future employment. On top of all of this, their treats are a HUGE hit with Pidgin, and a few other of her pup pals we've shared them with—they're made with 100% human grade, simple ingredients and come in all sorts of fun shapes and sizes. Her personal favorite? The perfectly sized Apple Cheddar Biscuits. (Apple Cheddar Treats, $10.99)
maxbone boost up
I've been a fan of maxbone for a long time—way before I had a dog of my own (I'm always on the lookout for good design!). The brand is known for their modern pup accessories, travel bags, and toys, but they recently launched an exclusive line of freeze-dried food, mb eats. While yes, technically it's not a treat (they also have traditional treats—Pidgin loves the turkey flavor), we found that this duck + superfood formula actually worked perfectly as a training treat. Using the individual pieces are a high-value reward that don't upset her stomach like small pieces of cold cuts (which is often suggested for training). And with ingredients like duck, broccoli, apple, zucchini, sweet potato, chia seeds, blueberries, seaweed, and ginger, we felt really comfortable knowing exactly what she was eating. While we don't feed it to her as her main food (we had already started her on a different food and switching foods can upset pups' stomachs), we still use it as healthy treats that she goes crazy for, and I'd highly recommend it if you're looking for a new food for your dog. (Duck Meal, $34)
PetPlate Chicken Apple Sausage Bites
Pidgin is absolutely, 100% obsessed with these Chicken Apple Sausage Bite treats from PetPlate. When I first gave her one she ran into the other room to hide it from me like she'd gotten away with something she shouldn't have. After she ate it she came back and stared at me and followed me around for 15 minutes waiting for another one. Later, she went around LICKING THE FLOOR in the spots she ate the treats, hoping for crumbs. PetPlate uses human-grade ingredients, and these treats have a very short list of them, including: organic chicken, organic pumpkin, and organic apples. Check out PetPlate's freshly-cooked meal subscription program, too: each recipe is crafted by a vet nutritionist and is packed with organic ingredients and nutrients. (Treats starting at $4.47 with a meal plan)
Nutrish Soup Bones
It's no secret that we're huge fans of Nutrish, but these new Soup Bones flavors (savory beef and savory chicken) are a huge huge hit with Pidgin! Not only are they long lasting to give her something to gnaw on when she needs a midday pick-me-up (i.e. when I'm in the middle of work), they have real beef and chicken (respectively) plus gelatin which helps support joint, mobility, and hip health in adult dogs. Not only are Nutrish treats a hit with Pidgin, we happen to know quite a few pups in our neighborhood who are huge fans, too! ($9.99, target.com)
Ben & Jerry's Doggie Desserts
Reasons to love Ben & Jerry's: their ice cream is bangin' (yeah I said it), they're an all-around amazing company (read all about their core values here), and now they have delicious (according to Pidgin—although I wouldn't be above trying them) dog-friendly desserts for your pup! I especially love these for a warmer day, since it cools Pidgin off after a romp in the dog park and is a nice way to calm her down if she has those post-park zooms. PLUS the ingredients are non-GMO sourced, fairtrade certified, and are made with responsibly sourced packaging. Pidgin is partial to the Pontch's Mix (what dog could resist peanut butter??) but she loves the Rosie's Batch (pumpkin and mini cookies) too. (Prices may vary; find a delivery partner here).
Purina DentaLife Chews
Dogs generally have bad breath, that's no surprise, but these dental treats actually made Pidgin's breath pleasant, which is no small feat—albeit with an expected tinge of meatiness which I (and she) do not mind at all. She loves these a lot, and they're especially great as a post-first-walk-of-the-day treat to get that morning breath in check (I'm not a vet but it would seem that dogs get morning breath just like humans). Because of the texture, chewing on these help reduce tartar buildup plus they get in all those hard to reach places that you probably wouldn't be able to get to if you're brushing your pup's teeth yourself. Bottom line: adding this dental treat to your pup's daily routine will make them healthier and both of you happier. (Purina DentaLife, starting at $4.49)