I first learned about single-ingredient dog treats in 2015.
That’s when my then-pup Missy was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Her diagnosis motivated me to re-evaluate her and her brother Buzz’s nutritional intake. Until then, I fed them kibble and traditional dog treats I shopped for at pet retail stores.
I can’t tell you how many rabbit holes I went down while I did research on dog nutrition. However, at the end of the day I learned that highly processed dog food and treats can contribute to cancer and other health issues in dogs. For example, itchiness and hot spots.
That’s because they contain so many artificial and completely unnecessary preservatives and ingredients.
Ultimately, I switched both pups from kibble to raw dog food, tossed the crappy dog treats I still had in my pantry, and replaced them with single-ingredient treats.
What’s So Great About Single-Ingredient Dog Treats?
This blog post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated in 2022. It contains affiliate links I may earn compensation through at no additional cost to you.
As the name suggests, they’re made of only one ingredient!
There are different types of single-ingredient treats:
- Freeze-dried dog treats
- Dehydrated dog treats
- Air-dried dog treats
The one common denominator they have is that their moisture is removed, which makes them shelf-stable.
Single-Ingredient Dog Treats Are Great For Allergic Dogs!
If your dog has a known allergy to a certain kind of protein, single-ingredient treats are the way to go. They provide peace of mind because you’ll know exactly which kind of protein they’re made of. For example, beef only, or lamb only.
There’s no need to worry about an allergic reaction in your pup with chicken allergies if you give him a single-ingredient beef treat!
My current pup Wally has a bunch of food sensitivities and can’t have any food or treats with chicken, salmon, sardines, green lipped mussels or grains. There’s also a bunch of veggies and fruit that make him all itchy and scratchy, so for dogs like him, single-ingredient treats are the way to go!
Thankfully, nowadays there’s quite a few companies that sell a variety of single-ingredient dog treats, meaning you’re able to choose between different proteins. For example, beef, chicken, pork, fish, lamb, etc.
Single-Ingredient Dog Treats Don’t Have Any Unnecessary Add-Ons
I challenge you to take a closer look at the ingredient list of standard dog treats you’ll find at major pet food retailers like PetCo or PetSmart. You’ll notice the addition of artificial colors, animal by-products, sugar, as well as cheap fillers like corn and wheat.
The beauty of single-ingredient dog treats is that they don’t contain any of above mentioned garbage.
Single-Ingredient Treats Don’t Need Any Harmful Preservatives – What Ingredients Should Not Be In Dog Treats
Single-ingredient freeze-dried, air-dried and dehydrated dog treats never contain any harmful preservatives.
For example, BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin, TBHQ, Propyl Gallate, or Propylene Glycol.
You definitely want to stay away from those because they’re known to cause cancer and other health issues when they’re offered on a regular basis.
Here’s why they don’t need them: When treats are freeze-dried, dehydrated or air-dried, moisture is removed.
That eliminates the need to add preservatives, and results in a shelf-stable dog treat!
The Full Nutritional Value is Maintained in Single-Ingredient Treats!
Cooking is not necessary when freeze-drying, dehydrating or air-drying single-ingredient treats, which means that no nutrients are lost – on the contrary, the full nutritional value is maintained!
Single-Ingredient Dog Treats I’ve Fed My Pups Since 2015
I got my hands on a large variety of single-ingredient treats since 2015, and these are my all-time favorites:
Dr. Harvey’s Sweet Potate’r Chews (Dehydrated Sweet Potato)
Of course you can also make your very own dehydrated sweet potatoes for your pup, but it takes a decent amount of time.
If you’re interested, check out my recipe for homemade sweet potato treats here.
Green tripe is highly nutritious because it contains a bunch of digestive enzymes. In case you’re wondering – green tripe is the stomach lining from ruminant animals like beef, goat, deer or sheep, but in this case it’s made from beef.
Minnows from Vital Essentials (fish)
These are small, tiny fish that make great training treats for medium to larger pups. You can also easily break them into pieces for smaller pups.
Herring from Icelandic+
I feed air-dried herring whenever I’m out of raw herring or similar oily fish like mackerel or sardines. They’re rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and taurine which are great for skin, coat and heart health.
Bully Sticks from Raw Paws Pet Food
Bully sticks are made from pizzles – which is nothing other than bull penises! They’re nutritious, high in protein, low in fat and a great boredom busting dog chew.
Tip: Shove them into a dog food puzzle or hollow dog toy to make them last even longer! For example, the Bionic Bone or Urban Stick by Outward Hound.
Dehydrated Rabbit Ears & Feet from Raw Feeding Miami
Furry treats are a great source of manganese and fiber, and they also keep the anal glands working properly.
Sometimes I feed them as a snack in-between, and other times I add them to a raw meal.
Real Dog Box Single-Ingredient Dog Treats & Chews
Their variety is absolutely mind-boggling! They have anything from beef, chicken, lamb, pork, elk, duck, turkey, salmon and more!
Get a free bag of treats when you sign up with my Real Dog affiliate link!
Every month, the type of treats and/or chews (depending on which box you decide on getting) varies, so it never gets boring! They even let you set up any proteins your dog is allergic to so that they won’t be included in any of your boxes.
What About Liver Dog Treats?
Liver is a secreting organ that plays an important part in raw feeding. That’s because raw meals for adult dogs consist of 5% liver (and 5% other secreting organs; puppies and pregnant dogs need more).
That said, it’s important not to overfeed liver because that can cause diarrhea at best and Vitamin A toxicity at worst.
So if you feed your dog daily raw meals, it’s better to hold off on adding liver treats to their daily food/treat allowance.
Here’s a tip though for picky eaters who refuse to eat raw liver – offer them liver treats! Another option is to purée the liver and mix it in with your pup’s food.
Single-Ingredient Dog Treats: Bottom Line
Single-ingredient treats are definitely my number one favorite treat to offer my pups.
They’re made without any artificial ingredients that are harmful and hard to pronounce. They’re also a great, healthy alternative for bleached rawhides and are useful for dogs with allergies.
Stay tuned for a blog post about my second favorite dog treats – limited-ingredient ones! I’ll let you take a tiny peek into that topic with the picture below. It features Wally with a Yak Cheese Dog Chew from Mighty Paw:
Have you fed your pup(s) single- or limited-ingredient treats and do you have a personal favorite? As always, we’d love to hear from you in our comment section!
Related Reading to Single-Ingredient Dog Treats:
- How to Make Single-Ingredient Green Tripe Dog Treats
- Why Vital Essential Minnows Make The Perfect Dog Treat
- How to Make Refreshing Raw Goat Milk Treats
- E-Book: 10 Recipes & Tips for Dogs With Allergies