HOW I PICK TREATS & CHEWS FOR MISO, PLUS FOUR BRANDS I LOVE.
This is an update of my latest thoughts regarding treats and chews loved by both Miso and I. For reference, here is my previous post published back in October 2020.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT TREATS AND CHEWS TO FEED MISO?
It did not take me long before I realized pet food is not held to the same industry standards as human food. The more I learn about what is legally allowed into pet food, the more discerning I have become about the kinds of treats and chews Miso can have. In this post, I will share what I am willing and unwilling to compromise on as well as what I look for in brands. I will also share four brands that I currently love for Miso.
Things I am uncompromising on:
All the ingredients including the supplements used must be human grade or intended for human consumption. This means, no diseased or dead/non-slaughter animals used. Ingredient labels that contain words like “by-products, product meal, animal fat, animal digest, meal, etc.” by legal definition can be sourced from diseased or dead/non slaughter animals. Thankfully, 99% of Miso’s treats are single ingredient protein treats and I only need to verify the quality of that single ingredient.
Packaging can be confusing sometimes and they don't always provide all the answers I need. This means I’ll have to search the company website, reach out to the company directly or research what the legal definition actually means behind their labeling. While this can be time consuming, I consider this time well spent.
For example, I realized pretty quickly that ‘Made in the USA’ speaks nothing to the quality of the product. It simply refers to the location where the product is packaged. As much as pretty designs and fancy labeling of this term may want to suggest otherwise, it does not tell me anything about the quality of the food inside the package. Here is another example. Packaging that says “Beef Dog Food” must contain 95% beef, but if packaging instead said “Dog Food With Beef” now the entire product only needs to contain 3% beef even if there is a delicious piece of steak printed on the packaging.
Thankfully, there is a wealth of information available to us online. Searching for “pet food labeling” in a search engine will yield interesting hits. Here is one of many articles that I found useful. “What to know before you shop for pet food.”
Processed rawhides are another place where I will not compromise. After reading about how processed rawhide is made, the chemicals used and the risk of obstruction, I decided to exclude it from her diet. The topic may be slightly controversial as I still see an abundance of industrial rawhides offered in a lot of local pet stores, so I will leave it to the readers to draw their own conclusion. For me the risks outweigh the benefits for Miso and with so many natural alternatives in the market it is easy to pass. Note that processed/industrial raw hides are not the same as natural complete hides which I had mentioned in my previous post. Naturally dried hides are not stripped, chemically processed or dyed like many industrial raw hides. I did purchase a couple natural hides for Miso a while back which she did enjoy. But over the past 6 months, she has gravitated more towards the light to medium chews.
Things I might be compromising on:
I generally do not like seeing any preservatives in the food I give Miso. However, I understand that they can serve a purpose. I have not read much in this area which is why I am keeping an open mind. Thankfully, there are enough options in the market that none of Miso’s current treats and chews contain any preservatives. When I have the choice, I will choose items without preservatives.
Things that make me so happy!
Products that are processed in a USDA approved facility. This means the facility meets certain standards as required by the United States Department of Agriculture which regulates meat used for human consumption.
Products that are packed under continuous inspection of USDA. This takes it one step further in terms of quality assurance. This means that the USDA is present during the production of their products inspecting everything from the ingredients to the way the food is handled (cleanliness) and stored.
* When the fish is wild caught vs farm raised.
* When the beef is organic grass fed.
* When the pork is pasture raised.
* When they offer novel proteins like venison, rabbit, elk, bison, etc. These are harder proteins to find, and I love giving Miso protein variety. They are also great alternatives for a pup who may have sensitive GI’s or allergies to more traditional proteins like chicken and beef.
WHAT BRAND TREATS AND CHEWS DO YOU CURRENTLY FEED MISO?
Here are four brands Miso and I really enjoy at the moment. All these brands are small businesses committed to excellence when it comes to the quality of their food. She consumes other treats as well and I’m always testing new treats, but these are the ones I currently feel comfortable sharing and Miso has been enjoying them for a period of time.
SOUL'Y RAW AND WHY I LIKE THEM.
Soul’y Raw uses human grade ingredients processed in a USDA approved butchery in San Marcos, California. The one exception is that some of their organ meats can not be considered human grade by legal definition because it remains unbleached in their natural state. I do not believe this is because the quality of the protein is inferior.
From grass-fed to free range to ocean sourced, they pick from the best quality of meat that is sourced from the same suppliers that provide to major grocery stores. They currently offer a variety of wild caught fish, grass-fed meats, and more.
They also carry novel proteins like rabbit, venison, boar, elk, and others. I love to give Miso protein variety and they have a great selection.
Note: Soul’y Raw also sells a variety of raw meats and bones which Miso has not tried since she is not fed a raw based diet. I am only speaking to their air-dried treats and dehydrated chews.
It’s been over a month now that Miso has been trying a variety of Soul’y Raw’s treats and chews and we both love them. I am so happy with the quality of their treats that I am excited to share, Miso and Friends will now be carrying some of their products for you to shop!
Below are the three products that I have hand selected to carry in our shop and reasons why I love them.
1) Dehydrated Rabbit Ears
Miso is completely obsessed with rabbit ears. For those who have been following along on her chew sessions, rabbit ears have been her absolute favorite for quite a while now. We had previously ordered rabbit ears from another company which had recently discontinued the item. We are so grateful to have found Soul’y Raw just in time.
Why we love them?
- Dental health. High quality chews appropriately sized and matched for your pup can help to promote oral health!
- Great starter chew. Rabbit ears are a great starter chew and appropriate for small to large size pups. They are considered a light chew and gentle on the teeth. The hair on the ears cater to their natural instincts to catch prey and can provide extra excitement.
- Novel protein. Rabbit is considered a novel protein and can be a good snack alternative for dogs with allergies to other proteins like beef or chicken.
- Improved digestion. The hairs on the ears is a type of fiber which is poorly digested so it would not be surprising if you noticed some hair pass through their digestive system. As the hair passes through the intestines, it is thought to help bulk up the stool and help to gently clean out the GI tract.
2) Air-Dried Wild Caught Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Filet
Miso loves salmon, but because they are higher in fat (even though good fats!) I prefer to offer them as treats rather than as her main meal and I consider this a high quality source.
Why we love them?
- A good source of Omega-3s. Like humans, dogs are incapable of producing Omega-3 fatty acids so the only way to get it is through their diet.
- Wild-caught. It is documented that wild-caught salmon has more nutritional value than farmed salmon. They have less saturated fat and are not at risk of being over injected with antibiotics.
- Natural Source. Unlike fish oils, this is a natural source of Omega’s 3s. You don’t need to worry about them turning rancid and oxidizing.
3) Air Dried Grass Fed and Finished Venison
Miso is about 6.6lbs and I offer her about 200 calories a day. As a rule of thumb, most vets will recommend that treats not make up more than 10% of their diet. This means that technically, Miso can only have about 20 calories in treats a day! While I am not super strict with this number, I am mindful that she consumes a healthy and balanced diet daily. Knowing that Venison is low in fat and high in protein, makes them a good option treat for training. I can worry less about the added calories all while keeping her motivated at the same time.
Why we love them?
- Low in fat and cholesterol. Venison is an excellent source of lean protein for dogs. Compared to their red meat counterparts, venison is lower in fat than beef. You can use them as training treats and worry less about the added calories! Venison is also an ideal protein choice for pups looking to shed some unwanted weight.
- Nutrient rich. Notably rich in B vitamins, and minerals like iron and zinc, that can help maintain healthy energy levels and support a healthy immune system.
- Novel protein. Considered a novel protein, venison can be a good alternative for dogs with allergies to other proteins like beef or chicken.
Available in our shop.
FARM HOUNDS AND WHY I LIKE THEM.
Farm Hound is still on our list of favorite treats and chews for Miso. They are a small business focused on quality and transparency. For every bag of treats I purchase, I know exactly what farm the protein is coming from. For chews, I noticed they do not always specify a specific farm, but my guess is that some of their chews are sourced from more than one of their farm partners.
All their farm partners are in the USA. The animals are raised free of added hormones, antibiotics, chemicals, and pesticides. They support regenerative agriculture and humane farming practices. More information is shared on their farms here.
I am also really happy with their customer service. They respond quickly to email and have a 100% satisfaction guarantee - meaning they are willing to work with you to make sure you are happy with your purchase.
Specifically, from Farm Hounds, I am a big fan of their jerky. Miso has had both their beef and pork jerky. Their jerky comes exclusively from White Oak Pastures, a certified humane farm located in South Georgia. Their jerky is 100% muscle meat and is the same protein White Oak Pasture sells for human consumption.
I also like their dehydrated organ meat. They are nutrient dense and packed with vitamins and minerals for your pup. Miso has practically sampled all their organ meats.
In terms of their chews, I like to give Miso their beef tendon. It is one of the few hard chews that Miso will really work at. This one works best for Miso in terms of keeping her teeth clean. She gets the best flossing action with this one. Other chews I like from here include their hog snout, hog ears, and their tripe.
I will take a minute here to update my latest views on chews. I still believe that high quality chews appropriately sized and matched for your pup’s size and chewing behavior can help promote oral health. I don’t believe chews can replace regular teeth brushing but used in conjunction they can do wonders. They act as a natural floss and can help get rid of tartar build up.
I say appropriately matched for your pup because dogs come in all different shapes and sizes and so do the chews. With every new chew, I supervise Miso until I get an understanding of how she consumes the item before I leave her with it. For example, I don’t give Miso beef hoofs or hog tails. I had purchased both and found that the beef hoofs are too difficult for her to make progress on. I also don’t give her hog tails. Hog tails are made up of a string of small bones and I found the little bones to come apart like little pills while she was chewing and I did not want her to swallow the bits of bone whole. Now, for a much larger size pup with stronger and bigger teeth this might not be a concern. But for 6.6lb Miso, I did not consider these chews an appropriate match for her.
Also, it is important to understand that chews can be categorized as light, medium, and hard. These can have different meaning depending on the size of your pup. Not all chews are meant to be eaten at once. For example, it might take Miso 6 to 7 chew sessions before she can finish a beef tendon vs a rabbit ear she will finish in one chew session. Miso generally gets one chew session a day. There is no set rule, but I generally do not let her chew sessions go longer for 40 minutes.
As with all treats and chews, they should be fed in moderation and only make up a small portion of your dog's diet.
If you want to see Miso in action with her chews, back in February, Miso and I did a live on Instagram to create awareness for National Pet Dental Month. Miso got her teeth brushed and towards the end you will see her enjoying one of Farm Hounds beef tendon chews. Click here to see the video.
Lastly, if you are new to Farm Hounds they do have a referral link they share with all their customers. This is my referral link for $20 off your first order of $50 of more. Miso will also earn referral credit if you purchase using this code.
HAPPEE DAWG AND WHY I LIKE THEM.
At Happee Dawg, all their ingredients are purchased from USDA vendors with a letter of guarantee backing the quality of their raw materials AND they are USDA certified! Their product is packed under the continuous inspection of a USDA agent on site. I think this is one of the best forms of quality assurance you can get.
Of their air-dried chews and treats, Miso has tried their veal oxtails, salmon skin, and smelt. My favorite of the three is their air-dried veal oxtails. This is currently the only chew I let her consume that has bone. (Note that bone is not the same as cartilage or tendon. In general, I do prefer giving Miso cartilage and tendon over bone as I think less supervision is required. Also, when I am referring to bone I am not referring to cooked bone which I would never give her as they could splinter.)
Regarding the air-dried veal oxtail, I’ve monitored her many times with this chew, and she has no issues crushing the bone with her tiny teeth. I actual consider this a lighter chew for her. The tail is quite long so I will break them up and offer her half a tail each time.
Unlike Soul’y Raw and Farm Hounds, Happee Dawg does recommend refrigerating or freezing their air-dried products and due to my freezer space constraints, I order Happee Dawg a little less frequently. I do however really like the veal oxtails for her and intend to repurchase them once she finishes her bag. If you are sensitive to smells, this item does have a slightly stronger smell than average although it does not bother me.
Happee Dawg also sells a variety of raw meats and bones which Miso has not tried since she is not fed a raw based diet. I am only speaking to their air-dried treats and chews.
LITTLE L'S AND WHY I LIKE THEM.
With Little L’s we’ve only tried their krak’ems or meat brittles which are oven baked single ingredient protein treats. Since then, they have expanded their product offering but we have not tried them so I will only be addressing their meat brittle.
They are a small business based in Brooklyn, New York and use human grade meat sourced from small farms that supply to restaurants in NYC. Their brittle is oven baked in a human food facility. As such, they claim their finish product to be fit for human consumption.
While I slightly prefer air dried (uses no heat) over oven baked (heat applied), these treats are of high quality. And because they are baked, they can be easily broken up into smaller size pieces for training. They also smell amazing. I suspect if your pup is motivated by food and smell, these treats should be very well received.
WE APPRECIATE YOU
I’m so excited about the brands I mentioned above, but I know there are probably so many more out there that are waiting for us to discover. Miso is incredibly fortunate that pet families and businesses are really coming together to ensure our pets have access to high quality foods.
To these small businesses committed to providing only the best for our pups, Miso and I want to take a minute to say thank you and that we appreciate you very much. I know that it is hard work, especially time consuming and much more labor intensive to source and produce high quality treats. Your mission to provide the best that you can for our furry companions does not go unappreciated.
Many of the brands above I was lucky to learn about through our community. By sharing what has worked for us, I hope that we can continue to pay it forward. I hope to see these brands continue to grow develop and succeed in their mission of providing high quality treats for everyone. I hope that you found this information helpful and I look forward to sharing more brands with you in the future.
YOU CAN FOLLOW MORE OF MISO'S ADVENTURES ON HER INSTAGRAM
About the Blog:
I started this blog as a I way to share the knowledge I've accumulated as a fellow dog owner. As I continue to learn from others, I hope that I too can help by sharing my own personal experiences. If you've found value in my blog and would like to support Miso and I, please consider sharing our small business to other dog owners in your community. It would mean the world to us. Thank you for your readership.
Disclaimer: Please note that the brands mentioned above are not sponsored and that this does not constitute a recommendation. I am sharing treats and chews from brands that I personally feel are a great fit for Miso. As with all health decisions, they should be individual decisions made based on the dietary needs of your pup and potentially after consultation with a healthcare professional. I hope that this post can provide some additional information to help you find the best treats and chews suited for your furry companion.
I do not have a professional background in dog training or veterinary medicine. All thoughts and opinions in these posts are time stamped as of the date posted and may change at any time. Thank you for your readership.