The Most Nutritious Treats For Your JRT

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Everyone loves treats, and your dog is no different. But there are treats, and then there are treats. And even for an active breed like the Jack Russell, too much of the wrong kind of treat can be a bad thing.

There are a lot of excellent, nutritious treats on the market. You can also make your own. And if you know your dog’s basic dietary needs, it won’t be hard to pick out a few that will be both nutritious and tasty.

JRT Nutrition Basics

You can think of your dog’s dietary needs in simliar terms as you would think of your own. Consider the following:

Your dog’s age

Your dog’s age will help to determine not only how many calories they need each day, but also their ideal balance of macronutrients — that is, fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Pet Care RX recommends the following:

  • Jack Russell puppies: 800 to 900 calories per day
  • JRTs aged one to seven: 450 to 650 calories per day
  • Elder Jacks: Feed toward the lower end of the adult range

In addition, Happy Jack Russell recommends the following macronutrient balances:

  • Puppies: 22 percent protein, 8 percent fat
  • Adult Jacks: 18 percent protein, 5 percent fat

Their activity level

This, too, is pretty self-explanatory. A couch pup will need to eat less than a highly active dog. Activity level will also determine their ideal balance of macronutrients.

Their ideal weight

The ideal weight of most Jack Russell Terriers is 14 to 17 pounds.

Do you wonder how many calories per day your dog needs to maintain their ideal weight? Or how many cups of dog food that translates to? Dog Food Advisor has a calculator that can help you figure that out.

Treat percentages

Experts across the board recommend that treats and other supplemental foods make up no more than ten percent of your dog’s daily diet.

Now, On To The Treats

Bully sticks, nuggets, jerky, rawhides, sausages — when it comes to treats, which pack the greatest nutritional punch?

Look at the ingredients

Just like with your food, when you’re wondering whether a treat is naughty or nice, your first stop is the ingredients list. And just like with your food, ingredients are listed in order of proportion. The first ingredient is the one the treat contains the most of, while the last few on the list may be present in much smaller amounts.

Look for treats with short lists of “real food” ingredients like meat and vegetables, and avoid sugar, salt, and preservatives when possible.

Ingredients to avoid

Some of these, like sugar and salt, aren’t good for anyone. Others, like some preservatives, can be downright dangerous. Some of these are obvious. Others may not be.

  • Sugars (including caramel, syrup, sucrose, etc.)
  • Salt (sodium chloride)
  • Known allergens for your dog
  • Ethoxyquin (a preservative)
  • Propylene glycol (a preservative)
  • BHA and BHT (preservatives)
  • Propyl gallate (a preservative)
  • TBHQ (a preservative)

Sourcing your treats

Recent years have featured numerous recalls of contaminated pet food and treats made in China. Although inexpensive treats may appeal to your wallet, if you want the best quality control, look for treats made in the USA, Canada, the UK, and Europe.

Common Treat Types

Different treats have different purposes. Here are some of the more popular types.

Non-nutritive treats

Some treats have no nutritive value — and that’s OK! They’re not meant as food, but rather for entertainment or dental health.


This is a non-nutritive treat made from animal skins. On one hand, it won’t bump up your dog’s calorie count. On the other hand, it doesn’t provide any sort of nutrients, either. There are some concerns that dogs can choke on small pieces of rawhide that they manage to chew off. Many consider bully sticks a safer alternative.

Bully sticks

This is another sort of non-nutritive treat made from…er…the private parts of a bull. They’re very good for helping your dog to maintain dental health, and many people prefer them to rawhide chews, especially for puppies.

Dental sticks

Dental sticks and dental chews are meant to clean your dog’s teeth first and foremostly. To ensure high quality, look for the seal of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Many of these are made from gelatin plus various plant proteins.

Protein-based treats

High protein treats can be great for an energetic dog. Just make sure to keep protein and calories in balance.


Look for jerky treats that are made from whole pieces of meat, rather than from pureed and shaped protein cut with fillers. What you want is a small ingredients list, with meat as the first ingredient. Avoid flavorings and preservatives where possible.

Sausage-type treats

Again, look for meat as the first ingredient. Some meat-type treats are bulked up with fillers like corn, wheat, and soy. These are cheaper to use, but can cause upset tummies for dogs who are sensitive to them. Avoid artificial colors and preservatives, and be mindful of fat content.

Biscuit and kibble type treats

There’s nothing wrong with carbohydrate-based treats like the traditional dog biscuit. Just remember to keep the macronutrients in balance, and not to overindulge your dog.

Look for a short ingredients list, and lots of “real food” ingredients like cheese, oatmeal, sweet potato, and chicken.

The Best Treats In Your Kitchen Right Now

Did you know that a lot of dogs love fruits and vegetables? If you’re looking for something quick and healthy to give your dogs, try these:

  • Bananas
  • Blueberries
  • Apple
  • Carrot
  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes (cooked)
  • Peas

You can also make your own homemade dog treats. This can be a fun, easy way to make sure your dog is snacking nutritiously — it’s also an excellent service project to do with a volunteer or youth group.

Snack Smart

We all love treats, but it’s important to keep nutrients and calories in balance.

What are your dog’s favorite healthy treats?

Featured Image: CC0 via MaxPixel

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