What's so great about single ingredient dog treats?

What’s So Great About Single-Ingredient Dog Treats?

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 had 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?

K9sOverCoffee.com | 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.

That means, 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.

K9sOverCoffee |Missy and Buzz eating single-ingredient dog treats Sweet Potate'r Chews from Dr. Harvey's

Beef Green Tripe Treats from Raw Paws Pet Food

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.

Raw Paws Pet Food Freeze-Dried Beef Green Tripe is on my list of best single-ingredient treats for dogs
Raw Paws Pet Food Freeze-Dried Beef Green Tripe Treats

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.

On my list of best single-ingredient dog treats: Minnows by Vital Essentials
Missy Taking A Minnows by Vital Essentials Break On A Hike

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.

K9sOverCoffee.com | Icelandic Herring single-ingredient treats for dogs
Wally with herrings from Icelandic+

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.

K9sOverCoffee | Missy And Her Dehydrated Bully Stick From Best Bully Sticks
Missy and her bully stick from Raw Paws Pet Food

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.

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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.

For smaller dogs, I would cut them up into smaller bites.

K9sOverCoffee.com | Furry rabbit feet and ears from Raw Feeding Miami are great single-ingredient dog treats
Furry rabbit feet and ears from Raw Feeding Miami
K9sOverCoffee.com | Raw dog food featuring a dehydrated furry rabbit foot, air-dried herring, ground beef, and a dehydrated low-carb veggie and herb mix
Homemade raw dog food with a dehydrated rabbit foot from Raw Feeding Miami

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!

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.

K9sOverCoffee.com | Real Dog's treats and chews made it on my holiday gift guide for raw feeders
Wally and his Real Dog Box
K9sOverCoffee.com | Buzz chewing on an air-dried pig ear
Buzz chewing on an air-dried pig ear from Real Dog

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.

You can either make liver treats yourself using a dehydrator or buy them pre-made from a vast variety of animals.

Dehydrated liver dog treat
Chicken liver dog treats

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:

K9sOverCoffee.com | Wally with his Yak Cheese Dog Chews from Mighty Paw
Wally with Mighty Paw’s Yak Cheese Dog Chews

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:

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Barbara launched her blog K9sOverCoffee in 2014 and has been feeding her dogs raw dog food since 2015. As a former professional dog walker, she’s passionate about balancing species-appropriate exercise with healthy dog nutrition. Barbara is raw dog food nutrition certified from “Dogs Naturally Magazine” and the author of several e-books about minimally processed, balanced raw dog food.


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14 responses to “What’s So Great About Single-Ingredient Dog Treats?”

  1. Julie Smith Avatar
    Julie Smith

    I love these posts. They are so helpful to me. I’ve talked about Cocoa’s sensitive tummy and I want to make sure what is going in is good stuff!! Thank you again for all the recommendations!!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Aw, thank you so much, Julie! I’m excited that you find the recommendations helpful – I’d try Green Tripe in both raw and freeze-dried, treat form for Miss Cocoa’s sensitive tummy 🙂

  2. MilitaryWifeandPugLife Avatar

    Thanks for a great recommendation! Our elderly dog Antoinette has a very sensitive stomach. It’s hard to find treats for her.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      It is my pleasure 🙂 I have a feeling your pup Antoinette will do great with single-ingredient treats!

  3. Kate Obrien Avatar
    Kate Obrien

    Great post – we are huge fans of single or limited ingredients, so thanks for this list!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Thank you, Kate – and awesome that you like the list 🙂

  4. Lindsay Stordahl Avatar
    Lindsay Stordahl

    Yes, I am a fan of single-ingredient treats or at least limited ingredients. Heck, it’s better for people to eat food without extra, unnecessary ingredients as well. I’d say my dog and I both eat our fair share of “junk” food but we do the best we can to choose healthy snacks & goodies. There are so many options so it’s really not so hard.

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Very true, there’s a ton of healthier treats out there for both K9s and their humans 😉 I’ve gotten more selective about what I eat and snack on since paying more attention to what the pups eat…funny how that goes!

  5. Elaine Avatar

    I’ve gotten a lot pickier about what treats I’ll give Haley and these are all great examples of healthy, single-ingredients treats. I think I’ll order a few of these and maybe work towards getting a food dehydrator to make some homemade treats too. Thanks for the great list, Barbara!

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Yay, happy ordering and dehydrating, Elaine! We got a dehydrator from my mother-in-law several weeks ago, but haven’t had the time to break it in yet. I do plan on making a few goodies for the pups, though 😉

  6. MyDogLikes Avatar

    We love Dr. Harvey’s coconut smiles and sweet potato chews – looks like we need to try out those power patties next. Another one we like is the Beef Tripe from Evangers (although it is stinky!).

    1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

      Yes, you HAVE to try them!! Thanks for the suggestion of Beef Tripe from Evangers – I haven’t bought those yet, but I’ve heard of Evangers. We’ll give them a try! (I feed the pups raw tripe, so I’ve become immune to the smell, lol!).

      1. MyDogLikes Avatar

        Wow, you are brave! I can only imagine how the raw tripe smells!

        1. K9sOverCoffee Avatar

          Lol, I’ll admit that it does smell a little, but thankfully the smell doesn’t linger at all. Once the pups have devoured their meals, the smell is gone – and feeding time doesn’t take too long 😉

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