There are a wide variety of companies and smaller pet food bakeries or gourmet dog food types of stores now selling organic treats for dogs. These snacks are a bit more expensive than the commercially mass produced types of treats, however there are significant health benefits for the dogs in providing these types of goodies. Basically most of the big name types of dog treats available in grocery stores are not designed specifically to produce nutritionally balanced treats, although some may have added vitamins or minerals.
Organic treats can sometimes be a bit misleading. In reality anyone that is marketing what they are calling an organic pet food, including treats, must be purchasing all products that are included in that recipe from a certified organic producer. This is all based on the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, which is overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture.
With regards to organic pet foods and dog treats, the raw products used in the making of the foods have to be grown or produced according to USDA standards for organic production. This means that the agricultural producer cannot use genetic engineered grains or crops or use any type of synthetic additives to either crops or livestock produced on the farm. There are some exceptions, especially if the synthetic or man-made compound or additive is approved as safe and beneficial to the growth of the agricultural crop or produce. Some naturally occurring compounds, such as arsenic, are prohibited from use because even though they are natural they are also very dangerous.
Farms and companies that produce organic pet foods or raw unprocessed agricultural materials that make less than five thousand dollars per year as an organic supplier or producer do not have to be certified, but they are required to still follow the guidelines.
Pet foods, including treats, as well as human foods can be labeled in one of three different ways and still use the term organic. If the label states that the food is 100% or "completely organic", the producer must use all organic materials in the food, with the exclusion of water or salt, which does not have to be designated as organic. When the label reads simply "organic", 95% of the ingredients have to be from the approved organic materials list from the USDA, with again the exception of water and salt. Foods or treats that are listed as "made with organic ingredients" must have at least 70% of the material used in producing the food or treats from organic suppliers.
There are very few regulations when it comes to pet foods, and not all organically based pet foods are monitored or are required to be certified. At this time the National Organic Program (NOP) offers optional certification for those producing organic pet foods, thus giving the company the option to use the term organic on the label as well as the organic symbol on the packaging.
For most types of organic dog treats there are several key ingredients that are always certified as organic either on the front of the box or packaging as well as on the ingredients list. Whole grains such as millet, oats and barley are often used in organic pet foods along with brown rice flour and whole wheat flour. This typically forms the majority of the treat by weight and adds small amounts of nutrients as well as fiber.
Fax seeds and oil as well as olive or canola oil are wonderful additives to different types of organic dog treats that provide Omega 3 as well as natural preservatives to the food. They also help to promote a shiny, damage free coat and improve digestibility of the treat. There is some evidence that the flax seed can also help in preventing some types of both human and canine cancers, however in the small amount provided in treats it is typically not considered significant.
Eggs, milk and meat are also major ingredients in many different types of organic dog treats. Organic production techniques tend to limit the breakdown of the proteins in these food sources, providing nutritional benefits to the dog. In some different types of organic treats small amounts of organic honey can be used for flavoring, which also has its own unique and distinctive health benefits.
Peanut butter, liver, chicken or beef flavored organic treats are great to provide a variety of different options to reward your dog for a job well done. As with any type of dog treat these products will have a limited shelf life and need to be correctly stored to maintain freshness. Most need to be stored in a sealed, dry and cool area to stay fresh and crunchy.
Since organic dog treats don't have a lot of those nasty chemical preservatives they do need to be carefully checked for freshness once they have been opened. Ideally a few can be left out and the rest kept in an air-tight container in the freezer for maximum freshness. In addition the softer the organic treat the less shelf life it will have after being opened or even prior to being opened, simply because there is more internal moisture.
If you are planning to buy organic dog treats as a gift, be sure to look for stores, bakeries and online sites that provide the certified organic label on their treats as well as clearly indicate that the products are made with human grade or human quality ingredients. Most come with wonderfully creative packaging and even gift wrap, perfect for the holiday season.
For a first time gift, smaller packages or variety packages of organic treats are often the best answer. Most companies offer combinations of various designs, flavors and even types of organic dog treats. This can be a great way to provide a dog owner or your special pooch with an opportunity to sample a few different treats and decide which one or ones are the favorite. Be sure to include information on where you got the treats in your gift so reordering will be easy for the owner once the sample selection is enjoyed.