Are processed foods the best snack for you? Why would they be any better for your dog?Here's how to identify the best dog treats to promote your pet's optimum level of health.You love your pet, so it feels good to get your pup a little something special from time to time. You swing by the pet aisle the next time you're at the grocery store and pick up a bacon-flavored treat that you're sure Fido will love. Then it happens.You look at the ingredients list.The ingredients are impossible to recognize, much less pronounce. What's in these treats anyway? In this article, we'll give you a better understanding of what ingredients to avoid (and why!), where to find the best dog treats, and even a homemade recipe to try. What To AvoidYour dog is family, so naturally you want the very best for them. It's natural to assume that the major dog food/treat brands feel the same way. They'd never feed your dog something that wasn't good for him, right?Rather than answering that question directly, let's take a closer look at the ingredient list of a very popular dog treat: Ground wheat, corn gluten meal, wheat flour, water, glycerin, ground yellow corn, sugar, soybean meal, bacon (preserved with sodium nitrite), salt, bacon fat (preserved with BHA and citric acid), phosphoric acid, sorbic acid (a preservative), calcium propionate (a preservative), natural and artificial smoke flavours, red 40, yellow 5, blue 1, yellow 6, added colour T-4005. This is supposed to be a "meat" treat and the first eight ingredients aren’t even meat! Instead, it's packed full of preservatives, fillers, and dyes. Yes, all of that stuff is in human food, but you're probably also eating a healthy portion of fruits and vegetables as well. If treats like this one make up the majority of your dog's snacks, they are probably not getting the nutrition they need.Fillers In treats like this, corn, wheat, and other fillers aren't added as a source of key vitamins and minerals. They are meant to make the consumer feel full without actually providing nutrients. Flour can be useful (and sometimes even necessary) to reach the proper consistency, but when it shows up in the first three ingredients, that means it makes up a large portion of the recipe.PreservativesThere is nothing healthy about preservatives, whether they are present in dog treats or human food.Their purpose is to give a product a long shelf life so that it can be shipped to the store, stocked on the shelf, and purchased long before it expires. Some dog treats can be "safely" stored for up to three years before they expire! Would you want to eat three-year-old meat?If that's not bad enough, some of the more common preservatives can irritate your dog's allergies or even cause some types of cancer. SugarNatural sugar that comes from fresh fruits and vegetables is one thing, but your dog does not need added refined sugar in his or her diet. In food meant for human consumption, sugar is usually added to enhance taste, because that's what our palates are used to (whether that's actually healthy for us is a different story). Dogs, however, don't crave things like donuts or cake. SaltSalt is not inherently bad for dogs. In fact, salt is an essential mineral for both canines and humans. However, too much salt can be bad for their health (again, just like with humans). Artificial Flavors/DyesManufacturers have been adding flavors and dyes to make food more palatable for decades. They might make certain foods bright and colorful, but they have no nutritional value. Meat By-ProductsWhile not an ingredient in the label referenced above, meat by-products are a very common ingredient in pet food and treats, so we feel the need to mention them.Meat by-products are made from the parts leftover after an animal has been prepared for human consumption. Things like organs, bones, and beaks are ground up, dehydrated, and added as an additional protein source.There are two issues when it comes to meat by-products: 1) where the meat comes from and 2) how it is handled.Would you feed your dog roadkill, diseased animals, euthanized pets, or even expired meat from the grocery store? Probably not. It doesn't stop that "affordable" pet food company from doing it.And even when higher-grade ingredients are used, they might be handled in such a way as to make them unfit for human consumption. Yet it's perfectly legal to make it into dog food. What To Look ForAt Rick's Dog Deli, we believe the best dog treats are made with ingredients you can recognize and pronounce. Neither humans nor dogs can thrive on a diet of nothing but processed foods.The first thing to consider when looking for the best dog treats is how processed it is. Take a look at the ingredients list. Are there any unfamiliar acronyms? Unpronounceable-looking chemicals? The fewer "strange" ingredients there are, the better. Second, you have to consider the source of the ingredients. As a rule, you should avoid any meat that originates from China. The Chinese government simply does not have high enough standards when it comes to pet food and there is no guarantee that this meat is of good quality.However, even the best dog treats should only be used occasionally, not as a supplement to their regular meals. When treats are offered, it's best to stick with choices like apples, green beans, or hard-boiled eggs. (We have a more extensive list of excellent snacking options here.) Homemade Dog Treat RecipesFeeling adventurous? Here are some healthy homemade dog treat recipes that your dog will love. No need to scrutinize ingredient lists!Peanut Butter Dog Treats Peanut Butter Bacon (Note: includes dairy)Spinach, Carrot, Zucchini OH MY If you don’t feel like buying all of the ingredients and finding a cute bone cookie cutter, we don't blame you! This doesn't mean you have no alternative but to buy processed commercial dog treats.Rick's Dog Deli has a wide array of nutritious treats for your pup. We even have goat-flavored "brownies" (don’t worry, no sugar!) that are chewy, healthy, and an all-time favorite among our furry clientele! The Best Dog TreatsRick’s Dog Deli wants your dog to be loved from the inside out. If we wouldn’t eat it, we wouldn't feed it to your pet. When purchasing dog treats, make sure to look for natural and wholesome ingredients. Don’t just shop off the shelf because the packaging "looks cute." Do your own research with your dog's health in mind. With a short list of 100% human-grade ingredients, our treats eliminate the need for guesswork. You can rely on Rick's Dog Deli for the best dog treats made with fresh, wholesome ingredients that contribute to your pup's wellness.As always, we are here to help if you have any questions about our ingredients or treats.