Healthy hound treats

Dogs love treats. But we may be tossing them too many unhealthy biscuits, according to recent statistics released by the American Pet Products Manufacturer Association. Results of a national survey of veterinarians indicates 16 percent of all dogs—and 17 percent of large dogs—are overweight, a condition that can lead to serious orthopedic problems down the road. To keep Fido healthy and in good form, check his weight regularly, never substitute treats for meals, and when you do offer an edible reward, be sure to choose wisely. Use our guide below to find healthy alternatives at your favorite natural products store.

—Kelli Rosen

Best Bites

Treats

What to look for

Notable brands

Caveats

Animal parts
(for example, freeze-dried beef liver, pig’s ears, bones)

Check for the organic label to ensure you’re buying products free from antibiotic and hormone contamination.

Healthy Choice, Nature’s Variety

Cooked bones are more brittle and can splinter, so choose raw varieties.

Biscuits

Find a treat that you would eat—or one you’d feed to your children. Look for whole-wheat types with natural preservatives (such as vitamins C and E or rosemary), and avoid sugar.

California Natural, Old Mother Hubbard, PetGuard, Solid Gold, Wellness, Wysong

Dogs who are wheat-sensitive should be fed only gluten-free biscuits.

Soft chews

Find ones with added glucosamine (for joint health) and antioxidants; excellent for a pet with an active lifestyle.

Zuke’s (HipAction and PowerBones)

Be mindful of the recommended servings on the package and, if you’re on a rigorous hike, always have lots of water available.

—K.R.

Source: Robert Silver, DVM.