So you are looking for healthy dog treats and chews for your dog but aren't really sure what that means - read on and we'll help fill in the gaps.

Healthy dog treats and chews are similar to healthy human food. It all starts at the source. Firstly, consider where and how the animal was raised? Most consumers agree that purchasing chews and treats from animals raised in the US is preferable to those raised in foreign countries. Next, consider how the animal was raised. There's a big difference between a range-fed bison who was not treated with antibiotics and other unnecessary medications and a cow raised on a factory farm with his final days being fattened up on a feed lot. Finally, consider how the actual treat or chew is being made - the more ingredients, additives and processing going into it, the more unhealthy it will be - no different than food for people.

Dogs require fat in their diets. Fats are a concentrated form of energy that provides a dog with more than twice the energy as compared to carbohydrates and proteins. In addition to providing dogs energy, fats are necessary for normal development and proper functioning of the body. They also help keep a dog's coat healthy and shiny. Lastly, fat helps food taste and smell good. Unless your dog has an issue metabolizing fat, there is no reason for healthy dog treats and chews you feed to be absent of fat. Of course, all chews and treats should augment a dog's normal diet to ensure a proper weight is maintained.

Healthy dog treats and chews should be fresh and contain moisture. Many manufacturers sell dog treats and chews after virtually all the moisture has been extracted. This along with preservatives and other additives ensures that the shelf life of the product extends many years. While that might be great for the manufacturer, it's not great for dogs. Why would any dog want to eat a dried out treat or chew? This applies to all rawhide. Healthy dog treats and chews should be completely digestible. There is nothing digestible about rawhide. Have you ever attempted to consume a piece of leather? Not only is rawhide unsafe, especially for deep chested dogs, it doesn't provide any nutritional value.

Generally, when most of the moisture is extracted from a product so are most of the nutrients and taste. After moisture extraction, it's not uncommon for the manufacturer to spray on a substance to make a dog want to even eat the treat. Unless the product is freeze-dried, healthy dog treats and chews should contain some moisture ensuring that the dog has to use both teeth and saliva to break it down. This not only retains the protein, fat, carbohydrates and vitamins in the chew, it also increases the enjoyment a dog obtains while helping to keep teeth and gums clean.

Ultimately, if a dog treat or chew comes with a long list of ingredients, many of which you can't pronounce or is made from an animal hide, keep shopping. Healthy dog treats and chews should be made, ideally, from a single ingredient that is completely digestible. While this inevitably shortens the shelf life due to the lack of preservatives, were you really planning on keeping these chews and treats for a long period of time? Treats and chews are meant to be eaten and enjoyed. Look for one ingredient dog treats and chews ideally sourced and made in the US. Your dog will love them and you can feel good that you're giving him/her a healthy dog treat or chew that's been responsibly sourced and made.