Why Feeding Quality Treats is Important

The provenance and quality of the food we - humans - eat is often talked about. Dogs are such a big part of our lives - and families, that where the food we feed them comes from, and how healthy it is, should be just as important. Yet grab most packs of dog food or treats, have a look at the ingredients list and one thing is clear: how unclear what we are feeding them often is. What part of the animal are we feeding them? What animal does it actually come from? Where does that meat (or ingredient) come from?


"Your are what you eat"... and so is your dog


The old saying “You are what you eat” applies to our dogs in the same ways as it does for ourselves. Better quality foods made with better quality ingredients provide a better quality of life. When the body’s not healthy, the mind is distracted by not feeling well and the spirit of the dog may be compromised.


Higher quality food does cost more, for dogs just like for their humans - but over the life of the dog this will be offset by lower veterinarian bills and the reduced risk of health issues which are a result of inadequate nutrition.


When fed dry food ("kibble"), Marcel's health was plagued with issues such as food intolerances and bladder stones. If someone at the park was giving him a single treat made with cereals, he'd often end up with a poorly tummy for days, resulting in countless vets visit. In addition to this, corgis tend to easily put on weight which is not good for their joints, and we struggled to manage this.


Faced with the lack of nutrition knowledge of our veterinarian at the time, I started doing my own research and realised that raw feeding (complete meals) was worth a try once we'd gotten rid of the stones. The composition and added moisture helps with keeping hydrated, flushing regularly and having a more acidic pH (needed to keep the kind of stones he had at bay). The transparency in the ingredients lists and single protein sources made finding what caused upset to his tummy much easier. Finally, raw food contains no fillers, which often cause weight gain. This was in the Summer of 2017 and, nearly 4 years later, we could not be happier: no sign of the stones returning, a tummy that is way less sensitive, and healthier weight.


What makes dog food - and treats - quality?

Quality dog foods are foods that contain meat, a healthy carbohydrate source (if there is one) and minimal grains. The best of them contain human-grade ingredients. What should be avoided is wheat, corn/maize and soy components: those are often used as fillers and sometimes, when a dog presents with an intolerance or allergy to their food, they are the first allergic component. Premium dog food should be free from fillers, artificial preservatives, colours or flavours, and by-products.


Quality - and high value - treats tend to be moist or freeze-dried, with a high meat or fish content.


Why quality, taste and quantity matter?


Training a dog (or shall I say a dog training their humans) starts from the day they are welcomed in their new home (be it as puppies or later in life) and throughout their entire life. Some dogs are motivated by toys, others like Marcel by treats.


The constant throughout his training, from attending "puppy school" aged just a few weeks old to agility training since he turned two, and "pawsing" for pictures (and every day during his walks or even at home), has been the importance of using high-value, quality treats, in moderation, to keep him motivated and reward good behaviour whilst not upsetting his tummy or allowing him to put on weight.


The kind of treats and variety we use when training makes a massive difference in how successful that training is. If rewarding with high value treats and praise (always using positive reinforcement):

  • Your dog will be more focused on you and responsive to you, especially around distractions

  • You will be able to train new behaviours faster

  • You will be able to fade out the use of treats in training more effectively

Dog treats should be pea-sized or smaller so more can be given depending on the size and activity of the dog. Many of the lower quality treats come in larger size and they are not easily breakable, adding the issue of overfeeding to that of feeding poor quality. If they are larger in the pack, training treats should ideally be easy to break up into smaller pieces.


This is why we were super excited when given the opportunity to try* and then, when satisfied with the trial, to partner with the latest addition to the Ella & Co range (a happiness and wellbeing company for dogs, inspired by his dogs, by James Middleton).

James' Treats are handmade here in the UK, using 100% natural, human-grade, locally sourced meats, vegetables and herbs (including free-range British chicken, wild British venison, British duck and sustainably sourced fish, sweet potato or potato - pre-cooked to reduce high levels of starch, and a herb mix crafted to calm dogs and entice their taste buds).


The treats are made in small batches, grain free gently air-dried, which preserves their nutrients and flavour, and contain no fillers. meat meals or nasties. They are suitable for all dogs: puppies aged two months old and over, older dogs, active and lazy dogs and compatible with raw feeding, and come in three varieties: chicken, game (venison and duck) and fish.


Not only are they of brilliant quality, they are also packed with flavour - without being too smelly to human noses. They are made of slices of string sausages that will easily break into smaller pieces, without making a mess, which is great for training or walks, and helps to feed in moderation and according to the size of the dog. The packs are of a generous size, and a little goes a long way - they are also resealable for added convenience.


Marcel can now get more "treat cam" requests (a fun way to interact with and make his social media audience smile, especially in the past year) without the risk of putting on weight and adding pressure to his joints, and I am very much looking forward to resuming agility training soon with treats that will motivate him without meaning stinky pockets and hands!


Get 15% off James' Treats with the code "MARCEL15" on Ella & Co !


*regardless of the incentive, I always require a trial with products we recommend, especially dog food.


{Disclosure: this post is part of a paid partnership with Ella & Co. All opinions are our own.}