Many people just toss treats to their dogs and don't really think about why, or the quality of the treats themselves. This passive activity does little to pacify or satisfy your dog, can contribute to weight gain, and in some cases has cost lives. I want to offer you a list of treats that are Canadian-made and safe for your dog. You can use them for training or as snacks. But even safe snacks come with a warning – over feeding can lead to weight gain, and that alone is devastating. So as long as you’re feeding responsibly, I believe you can feel confident in the following products.
Nothing Added. Their tripe strips can be cut into tiny pieces and are perfect for training since they are “high value.” They’re super stinky, so I recommend placing the tiny pieces in your treat pouch with other, less rich treats so they can take on some of the scent. Nothing Added also makes dehydrated chicken, lamb, liver and more.
Northern Biscuit has always been one of my favourite treat brands. They’ve extended their line over the years to include grain and gluten free products.
KaliWags, made in BC are super healthy and extremely crunchy – teeth-cleaningly crunchy! Okay they’re a little more expensive than your average treat, but I look at these more as a snack, given their heartiness and high quality ingredients. On the days my dogs have one, I cut back slightly on their food. You can offer these freely to younger dogs whose weight is not an issue.
The Barkery treats can be difficult to find, but if you see them, grab a bag. This is a small company that not only knows what dogs like, but they have safety and health at they top of their priority list.
I do recognize that the brands listed above cost more than other treats that are mass-produced, or manufactured in China or Thailand, but since you’re feeding treats sparingly, it’s not actually a huge investment. For more information on why “Made in Canada” matters, watch this CBC documentary about the affects of feeding foreign treats.
Please feel free to add comments listing your top picks for Canadian-made, delicious treats.
If you’re not training though, why give treats passively? Stuffed Kongs are a great way to offer healthy treats that last, but only if you make your own stuffing. I’m absolutely not a fan of Kong’s canned, sprayable stuffing. It’s full of ingredients that aren’t good for your dog. That said, I love stuffable Kongs! If your dog enjoys them, buy a few that are size-appropriate, and between each use, wash them thoroughly! I run mine through dishwasher.
Julie Posluns, co-owner of online training school treatpouch.com, provides stuffed Kongs daily, and in fact this is how her dogs receive most of their food. Julie says: “Giving your dog all his food in a bowl is a wasted opportunity to burn energy and provide mental stimulation. Kongs are the perfect medium for presenting healthy food and providing your dog with hours of pleasure. Once you place the food in the Kong be sure to freeze it, then give your dog the frozen 'Kongsicle' and let him work at it. Don't be discouraged if your dog gives up easily in the beginning. If this is the case consider only partially freezing the food, or investigate some of the different types of Kongs (there are some designed for dogs who have softer mouths). Kongs are also affordable and long-lasting, making them an excellent investment compared to most dog toys which are easily destroyed. Each morning I prepare 8 Kongs and freeze them for later. It just takes a few minutes and keeps my dogs occupied for hours. They love it, and so do I.”
So why not make this Kong stuffing recipe? Place the ingredients into your slow cooker, in this order:
- 500 grams of ground chicken (or venison, extra lean beef or turkey)
- 250 grams (usually a half bag) of California mixed vegetables
- 1 washed and roughly chopped sweet potato
- 1 ¼ cups of water (may need to be adjusted)
- Set to low heat for 6-8 hours
- When time is up, add one egg and ½ cup of quick-cooking oats.
- If you wish, leave out the oats. Reduce water to half.
Stir thoroughly, breaking up the pieces of meat, and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. Then stuff your Kongs and place them in the freezer.
(It is ok to thaw the mixture in your fridge and refreeze inside Kongs.)
This is a safe addition to any diet, but can be very beneficial to a commercial diet since the protein sources in the stuffing are high quality and highly digestible. Just be mindful of the additional calories. I know many people stuff their Kongs with peanut butter because it's so easy and dogs love it. Not only does PB provide excess fat and very little required nutrition, peanuts are known for their susceptibility to aflatoxins, a potent carcinogen in the livers of rats. (Corn is also famous for harbouring aflatoxin-mould, so read your treat and kibble ingredients)
Please email if you have any questions and don’t forget to add your treat picks!