Updated November 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best soft dog treats

From crunchy biscuits to tough, chewy jerky, dog treats come in a variety of textures. While most pups love any treat, soft dog treats can be particularly beneficial for senior dogs or younger puppies who struggle to chew harder morsels, and they're great for training too.

Quicker and easier to eat than tough or crunchy varieties, soft dog treats are a less distracting option for training and can help dogs stay focused on the task at hand (rather than the crumbs on the floor). Most also have a stronger smell that can work to boost motivation during difficult training sessions.

However, not all soft dog treats are created equal. While many are made with quality ingredients, this isn't always the case, and you'll want to carefully inspect the labels before making a choice. Flavor, portion size, and calories are just a few other important points to keep in mind.

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Soft baked dog biscuits, freeze-dried treats, chews, homemade no-bake treats, and even foods like cheese all fit into the broad category of soft dog treats.

Key considerations

Ingredients

Ingredients are the single most important factor to consider when shopping for soft dog treats. While many soft dog treats are made with high-quality ingredients, some are packed with fillers, additives, and chemicals. As far as possible, try to opt for treats that have a short list of whole-food ingredients, such as quality meats, vegetables, fruits, and nut butters. We recommend avoiding ingredients like corn, soy, and wheat because these hold little nutritional value and can be difficult for dogs to digest.

Size

Soft dog treats are available in a variety of sizes. Smaller pieces typically contain fewer calories, making them a fantastic option for puppies, small breeds, overweight dogs, or extended training sessions. When it comes to larger breeds, you might want to offer something a bit more substantial to help keep your dog focused and motivated.

Calories

Treats, both soft and hard, should account for no more than 10% of your dog's daily calorie intake. Some soft dog treats contain as few as 3 calories per treat while others can have as many as 30 calories or more. If you have a small dog or overweight pooch, low-calorie treats are hands-down the healthiest choice. Larger breeds, active canines, and underweight dogs may benefit from soft treats with a higher calorie count.

Flavor

Soft dog treats are available in a multitude of flavors. From sweet to savory, there's something out there for every palate. Just about every dog enjoys a meaty treat, but that doesn't mean you should shy away from vegetable-, fruit-, or nut-based options. Many dogs absolutely adore treats that are flavored with peanut butter, pumpkin, berries, or watermelon. Ingredients like these can also be an excellent source of vitamins and fiber.

Think Fido might turn up his snout at a vegetable-based treat? Consider treats that contain a combination of meat, vegetables, and fruit. These are more likely to appeal to fussy eaters, and they still manage to deliver a double punch of protein and fiber (provided they're flavored with real, whole-food ingredients, of course).

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DID YOU KNOW?
Freeze-dried treats are easily one of the healthiest (and tastiest!) soft treats you can choose for your dog. These treats generally boast higher nutritional value and are most often made using high-quality meats and, in some cases, vegetables.
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Features

Nutrition

Some soft dog treats are fortified with vitamins and minerals for an extra nutritional boost. If you think your dog's diet could be lacking certain nutrients, fortified treats might be worth considering. However, it's important to note that vitamins and minerals cannot replace a healthy diet, and most essential nutrients should come from your dog's regular food.

Packaging

Soft dog treats can quickly grow hard and stale if they aren't stored correctly. While many soft dog treats come in resealable packaging to help preserve freshness, some don't. If you don't have an airtight storage container for dog treats at home, resealable packaging is a feature you might want to look for. Transferring your soft dog treats to a resealable plastic bag is another option.

Soft treats are usually made with flavorful, nutrient-dense ingredients and often have a strong smell, making them some of the most irresistible high-value treats around.

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Accessories

Dog treat bag: PetSafe Sport Treat Pouch
Dog treat bags make it easy to tote those tasty tidbits along if you’re having an outdoor training session, teaching a new puppy to walk on a leash, or heading out to your local dog park.

Dog water bottle: OllyDog Flame OllyBottle
A dog water bottle is a convenient, mess-free way to quench your dog's thirst when you're away from home.

Plastic bags: Ziploc Sandwich Bags
If your soft dog treats don't come in a resealable bag or you want to portion out a day's worth of treats, storing them in a resealable plastic bag can help keep them fresh and moist.

Soft dog treats prices

Inexpensive: Smaller quantities of high-quality, healthy soft dog treats can be purchased for as little as $5 to $10. Larger quantities of lower-quality soft treats containing fillers and artificial additives can also be found in this price range.

Mid-range: For around $10 to $15, you can find larger quantities of premium, nutrient-dense soft dog treats as well as bulk packs of treats containing fillers and additives.

Expensive: Multipacks of quality, whole-food soft dog treats and bulk purchases of lower-quality options typically cost from $15 to $20.

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CAUTION
Soy might seem like a fairly innocuous ingredient, but it’s a known hormone disruptor. Given the fact that soy can wreak havoc on a dog's endocrine system and potentially cause thyroid problems, we strongly advise seeking out soy-free soft dog treats.
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Tips

  • Consider using a combination of treats. If your dog doesn't have dental problems, there's no need to limit it to soft treats. Consider using soft treats for training and outings and reserving hard treats for home where your dog can enjoy them at leisure.
  • Read the list of ingredients. Just about every dog treat is marketed as being “healthy,” “nutritious” or even “natural,” but oftentimes the list of ingredients tells a very different story. We recommend reading the list of ingredients carefully and steering clear of products that contain ingredients you can't pronounce or those that contain fillers, such as corn, wheat, or soy.
  • Pay attention to calories. Low-calorie treats are kinder to your dog's waistline and also allow you to dole out more treats while still keeping within a reasonable calorie count.
  • Store soft treats in an airtight container. Soft treats can dry out and become hard when exposed to air for extended periods. If your treats don't come in a resealable bag or the packaging doesn't seal as well as it should, consider storing them in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag instead.
  • Introduce new treats slowly. New additions to your dog’s regular diet can sometimes cause digestive issues. Introduce new foods gradually to minimize the possibility of undesirable side effects, such as diarrhea and flatulence.
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There's no need to avoid larger soft dog treats altogether if you have a smaller dog. Most soft dog treats can easily be broken into smaller, more manageable pieces.

FAQ

Q. Are soft dog treats safe for dogs with diabetes?

A. If your dog has diabetes, or even if it’s simply overweight, it is best to avoid soft treats that contain added sugar. Vegetable glycerin is often added to soft dog treats to help keep them moist. While there's nothing too sinister about this particular ingredient, it does have a rather high sugar content and is best avoided when it comes to dogs with diabetes. Molasses, honey, and even sugar are also sometimes used to sweeten treats and can drive sugar content through the roof. Try looking for single-ingredient freeze-dried treats or options with a short list of whole-food ingredients. If your dog has an insatiable sweet tooth, opt for treats that contain naturally sweet fruits and vegetables like pumpkin or apples.

Q. How many soft dog treats should I give my dog per day?

A. That depends entirely on your dog's size, weight, activity level, and nutritional needs. If you're unsure of your dog's daily calorie requirements, using a calorie counter tool for dogs can be helpful. Simply fill in the necessary fields and devote 10% of your dog's recommended daily calorie intake to treats.

Q. What are the best soft dog treats for dogs with food allergies?

A. Dogs with food allergies or sensitivities can benefit greatly from limited ingredient foods and treats. Single-ingredient treats are by far the safest option, but those with just a handful of simple, whole-food ingredients, such as meat and vegetables, are also a good choice. If you're trying out a soft dog treat that contains ingredients your dog has never eaten before, start with just one small treat and observe your dog closely for any potential reactions over the next 24 hours.

 

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