Dog treats

You may give your dog a treat when trying to train them or when rewarding good behaviour. Perhaps you just want to demonstrate how much you love them. However, there are so many treats available that it can be difficult to know which one to choose. Some contain more fat than others, whilst others claim to benefit dogs’ health. To try to dispel the confusion, we have written a Quick Guide to Dog Treats.

Rawhide treats

This type of treat is made from the hide of a cow or horse, and can sometimes contain extra flavourings such as chicken or liver to make it especially appealing.


Rawhide treats are designed to be chewed. Their initially hard exterior becomes softer when moist, and hardens again when left alone. For this reason, they can last for quite a while.

Although chewing is a natural behaviour it is sometimes a way of relieving anxiety, so rawhide treats can benefit a dog experiencing this. Regular chewing on treats such as rawhide can prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar, which reduces the likelihood of gum disease and tooth loss.


It may not be wise to leave your dog unsupervised with this type of treat because dislodged chunks might become stuck in their teeth or throat. Sections can also splinter off and cut your dog’s mouth, and these sharp parts may be particularly harmful when swallowed.

Moreover, there is some concern about rawhide treats containing traces of bacteria such as Salmonella or E.coli, which can not only harm the dog that chews them, but those who handle the treat.

Prime cut treats

Pigs’ ears and other prime cuts can be very tasty treats for dogs. They are essentially sections of an animal that have been dried out, with preservatives and flavourings added.


Their high fat content makes them especially tasty for dogs, and they can sometimes last a while in the way rawhide treats can.


Some prime cut treats can have a high fat content, so are perhaps best reserved for special occasions. This could also mean they are difficult to digest, and may make an animal sick. There has been some controversy about whether some prime cuts contain traces of Salmonella, which can cause diarrhoea.

Also, sections that are chewed off may become lodged in the throat, or can even create blockages in the small intestine. As such, your dog should be supervised when chewing this type of treat. Depending on the size of the cut, they may prove difficult for smaller dogs to ingest.

Raw bones

The stereotypical image of a dog is often incomplete without a bone. However, there has been a lot of debate about whether bones really are safe treats to be given to dogs. It is important to note that any you provide them with must be raw, because cooked bones can splinter and puncture the abdomen.


Much like rawhide, they provide an outlet for a dog’s natural instinct to chew, whilst keeping them busy. They can benefit your dog’s teeth by helping to keep them clean, plus the calcium ingested inhibits plaque and tartar build-up, as well as gum disease. The calcium can also strengthen dogs’ bones.


Splintering bones can be quite sharp and painful, and pieces that break off may choke your dog. Additionally, hard ones can cause teeth to chip. Burying them in dirt can coat them in bacteria, which makes your dog susceptible to intestinal problems such as gastroenteritis. For these reasons, you should supervise your dog when giving them this treat.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding small bones, especially chicken, with many arguing that they shouldn’t be given to dogs because they can splinter, whilst others maintain they are perfectly fine. Raw bones can also be high in fat.

Fresh meat

What dog doesn’t love a fresh bit of beef or chicken? Some pet owners have even gone as far as extending such tasty treats into a complete raw food diet for their dog, consisting of vegetables, fruit, meat and animal bones.


Meat treats can improve the skin’s health and the appearance of the coat, and they keep the teeth clean. They also indulge a dog’s natural carnivorous instinct by enabling them to tear and chew meat like their wild cousins.


There is a chance of dogs, and the humans handling it, contracting illnesses or stomach problems as a result of bacteria found in raw meat. You need to consider the grading of the meat because the better quality it is, the less likely the dog is to become ill from it. Also, whole bones found in meat could choke.


Whichever treats you decide to feed your dog, remember not to overindulge them. Dog food is tailored to contain the right amount of nutrients a healthy dog needs, so feeding them excess amounts of treats will unbalance their diet. They could gain weight and develop health problems as a result, so bear in mind that when giving your dog treats, they must have extra exercise so they can burn the excess calories.

Looking for more dog advice?

Find the information you need as we support you through every step of your journey with your canine companion.


Need dog insurance?

Dog insurance can help cover the cost of veterinary treatment if your dog gets injured or falls ill.


We know pets

Animal Friends Insurance is a multi-award winning FCA-regulated pet insurer, founded in 1998 to provide industry-leading pet insurance and first-class animal care to create a better life for every animal.
As one of the UK’s largest pet insurance providers, Animal Friends works with vets, veterinary professionals, and partners pioneering the latest veterinary technology & healthcare advancements to achieve our vision.
Our policyholders have helped donate over £8.5 million to more than 800 animal charities worldwide and by educating and inspiring others to act on current events and responsible pet ownership, Animal Friends is driving positive change for animal welfare and conservation.