This probably happens to you again and again. You take your furry munchkin to the pet store, and at the cash register, clerk hands you samples of some new treats that are supposedly "loved by all pups in town". You smile skeptically, but politely accept the treats and hand them to your doggy. Your furry food critic takes a careful sniff, yawns and immediately turns away. You sigh and drop the samples into the bag, knowing that they will eventually end up in a trash.
While other dogs are happy to munch on cardboard or shoes, your pup is extremely selective when it comes to treats. So many experts are telling us how to choose treats that are "right" for your dog, but no one has yet shared their advice on how to find treats that your dog will like for sure. Being parents of extremely picky fluffy munchkins, we decided to chime and share our suggestions on what to look for when buying treats for picky dogs.
#1: Meat, Meat, Meat
Sorry, but the truth is that those biscuits and cakes are more fit for birds. All dogs are carnivores. That means they like meat. The more meat, the better. While some treats claim to contain meat, it is most always is mixed with sweet potatoes, carrots, wheat or corn flour, or other carbs-packed fillers. Sometimes, such mixtures are passed through the "jerky guns" and then shaped as strips or pellets. Often, the amount of actual meat in those treats is miniscule, and is added mostly for the flavor and for labeling purposes.
If you have a picky pup, your best choice is to go with the all-meat treats, like jerky or roasted strips. Look for premium meat parts, like breast, steak or loin. While by-products like lungs and liver are ok for dogs from the nutritional perspective, they are not as loved by furry munchkins as the real meat. Little L's, a tiny artisan company in New York City, is a great example of high quality all-meat dog treats. Their Cluck-Cluck and Gobble-Gobble krak'ems are handmade from locally sourced human-grade chicken and turkey breast. If your doggy is reluctant to eat poultry, you can try Moo-Moo krak'ems, produced from premium beef steak cuts.
#2 No Additives or Seasonings
Not all jerky is made equal. Often, before dehydration, meat is either marinated or seasoned with paprika and other spices. But dogs, like people, have preferences, and certain spices and seasonings may simply be not up to their taste. Some additives, like garlic or onion based seasonings, can be actually poisonous to dogs.
For extremely picky munchkins, look for plain dehydrated poultry and meat. For instance, Little L's krak'ems are simple single-ingredient all-meat treats, and contain no other additives, preservatives or seasonings.
#3 Freshness and Flavor
A dog's sense of smell is up 10,000,000 times more sensitive than a human's, so your furry kid can easily detect if treats are fresh or have spent months in that "sealed for freshness" plastic container. The sad reality is that it may take up to 6 months for treats to travel from the (often foreign) factory to warehouses, then to the stores, and then to your home. No vacuum-sealed container or dry-freezing in the world can preserve all that flavor and freshness!
For doggies with extremely selective taste, go for freshly made and made to order treats. Try local dog bakeries, Etsy or artisan companies like Little L's. Their treats are baked to order and delivered fresh from the kitchen to your doorstep.
Don't Be Afraid to Sample First!
Just like with human gourmands, the search for those perfect treats always involves experimentation and numerous trials. To avoid wasting money, ask for samples first whenever possible. For instance, Little L's offers a risk-free Picky Dog Challenge on their website: you can order a free sample pack of their delightfully crunchy and flavorful chicken, turkey and beef krak'ems. If you live in New York City, you can also get free samples of their treats in select high-end boutiques like Canine Styles on Lexington Avenue, Salty Paw in South Seaport, or Coco & Toto in midtown Manhattan.