Are Dog Treats and Chews AAFCO Approved?

When we take out a treat or chew for our dogs, they wag their tails and bounce with delight. 

Their large eyes and wide smile will always melt our hearts, but do you know whether the treats and chews are good or harmful for them?

In this article, we will discuss various types of treats and chews, whether they are AAFCO approved or not, and the advantages chews provide.

What are dog treats and chews?

Treats are a type of pet food that isn't intended to provide complete and balanced nourishment but rather to reward pets. Treats should be offered only occasionally because too many treats might disrupt a pet's normally balanced diet and add unnecessary calories.

There are also other natural and manufactured pet chews and bones which can be made out of animal flesh, plastic or other synthetic materials. Those that are in their natural form are derived from animal parts such as: 

  • Hooves
  • Ear
  • Animal bones
  • Tendons
  • Snouts
dog treats

Image by ❤ Monika 💚 💚 Schröder ❤ from Pixabay 

If the dog chews are clearly labelled as ''treats'' or ''snacks'', they are exempt from registration and labelling because they are intended as treats only. However, if the producer states that it is intended as animal feed or that it gives nutritional value to the animal (e.g., "digestible" or "high-protein"), the product is required to have full pet food labelling.

Are dog treats in accordance with AAFCO guidelines?

Yes, dog treats comply with AAFCO rules as long as the labelling and ingredients are stated correctly.

The AAFCO guideline for treats states that the phrases "snack" or "treat" must be clearly displayed on the front (main display) panel of the product label.

The AAFCO however, does not test, certify or approve pet food on the market. Instead, they develop guidelines to ensure that pet food manufacturers provide clear, consistent and accurate information.  

Dog treat label requirements

The labelling for all dog treats must meet a specific standard that is set by the AAFCO. Here is a checklist of things to keep an eye out for when reading the labels on dog treats.

  • Name (& purpose) of the brand/product
  • Name of the type of animal the product is for
  • Net Quantity Statement
  • The Guaranteed Analysis (on an "as fed" basis)
  • Ingredient Statement
  • Feeding directions
  • Manufacturer's Name and Address

Are chewing treats good for dogs?

Yes, chewing treats are good for dogs. It can help improve your dogs' health and emotional wellbeing. Here is a list of the benefits of chewing for dogs.

  • Reducing boredom
  • Helps with stress and anxiety
  • Strengthening the jaws
  • Dental hygiene
  • Help puppies who are teething feel better.

What are the healthiest dog treats?

Natural foods are the healthiest. Treat your puppy to nutritious chews that are delicious and high in fibre. Here are some healthy natural dog treats for your pup:


Carrots are high in fibre and beta carotene, which generates vitamin A. Also, giving your dog carrots to chew on is good for their dental health. However, for small breed dogs, make sure to cut it to a smaller size to prevent choking.


Apples are high in vitamins A and C, as well as fibre. It'sIt's also low in protein and fat, which makes it ideal for senior dogs to consume. However, make sure to take out the seeds and core before giving them to your dog.


Watermelon is high in vitamins A, C, B6, and B1, as well as calcium and potassium, all of which can help boost your pet's immune system. Keep in mind not to feed the seeds or the rind to your dog.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are high in dietary fibre, which helps the digestive system work more efficiently. Also, it's high in vitamins and low in fat, which makes it an excellent treat. Cook them and serve plain to your dog.


Bananas are a low-calorie dog treat high in potassium, vitamins, biotin, fibre, and copper. However, it is best to feed dogs in moderation due to their high sugar content.


Broccoli contains nutrients that are beneficial to dogs, including vitamin K, calcium, and potassium. Vitamin K promotes strong bones and higher bone density, and when combined with several nutrients found in broccoli, it can be beneficial for growing dogs.


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


Cauliflower is high in B-Vitamins and fibre for dogs. The B-vitamins are essential for skin, brain, blood health, metabolism and energy.


Strawberries and blueberries are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C. Since it is low in calories, it makes an amazing snack for dogs. However, because it is high in sugar, do not overfeed berries to your pets.

Natural dog treats chew

Natural chews such as rawhide, beef tendons, and raw bones are high in protein, and they can help your 's diet, as well as older dogs, to gain and retain muscle. Try Petcubes. Our natural dry dog treats comply with AAFCO standards and come in a wide variety of choices. Just make sure you don't use bleached rawhide treats. 

What dog treats are bad for dogs?

How much harm can a small reward from the table do to your dog? The answer depends on the food and its contents. Treats may contain cancer-causing ingredients and artificial sweeteners to excite your dog's taste buds. 

Here is the list of the harmful ingredients or substances that could be found in the treats:


Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is used to replace sugar. Sadly, even a small amount of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia, seizures, liver failure, and death in dogs. This substance is usually found in chewing gum, candies, and certain types of peanut butter. 


Avocados contain persin, which can cause vomiting or diarrhoea in dogs. Also, the avocado seed can get stuck in their intestines or stomach, which can be fatal.


You may sometimes share your drink with your buddy during a party. However, a tiny amount of beer, liquor, wine, or alcoholic cuisine might be dangerous. It can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, coordination problems, breathing problems, coma, and even death.


Onions contain N-propyl disulfide, a toxic principle. This substance causes the breakdown of red blood cells, resulting in anaemia in dogs.

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins may be harmful to your dogs' health. Their toxicity in dogs can cause acute kidney failure and anuria (a lack of urine production).

Milk and Other non-fermented Dairy Products

Milk and milk-based products might give your dog diarrhoea and other stomach issues.


Theobromine is the source of the problem in chocolate. Chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs. It can also lead to heart issues, tremors, seizures, and even death.

Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

Persimmons, Peaches, and Plums

Cyanide is present in the seeds or pits of these fruits, which is dangerous. Moreover, a dog's small intestine can be harmed by accidentally eating the seeds.


Salt can cause nausea, diarrhoea, depression, tremors, high fever, seizures, and dehydration. In the worst case, death or sodium ion poisoning may occur.


Sugar is bad for your dog, so don't give it to them! It increases the risk of obesity, cavities, and diabetes in your dogs.


Expansion of the yeast in your dog's abdomen will cause severe pain and, over time, Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV).

Treats and chews for puppies

Puppies can only be given treats once they have been weaned, and are able to consume solid food. You need to wait until they have all their baby teeth, including molars.

There is a high risk of injuring their gums if they are given treats too early. The majority of breeds begin weaning between the second and third months after birth.

What dog treats are safe for puppies?

Soft treats are the safest type of reward for puppies and smaller breeds. Soft treats are preferred since they are less likely to choke or harm the dog.

This sort of treat is softer and chewier in texture, and it may contain gelatine. Also, they are soft in the shape of small pearls that dissolve in the tongue. This variety is often baked and consists primarily of flour.

Harder food, such as crunchy treats can be given to older puppies or larger breeds beyond the age of six months.

To learn more, read "Puppy treats – 12 Types and How to Choose the Right Treats"


A dog's diet is incomplete without treats, as they may become bored with their regular meals. It also serves as a form of reward-based training.

While there are many factors to consider when giving your dog treats, it is critical to understand the type and benefits of the treat. The right treat will make them happier and healthier.

For more information, read "5 Benefits of Rewarding Your Pup with Dog Treats"

Reviewed by: 

Dr Francis is one of the top wildlife nutritionists in Asia. Originating from Montreal, Canada, he left at 21 to pursue his Masters and subsequently a PhD in wildlife nutrition at Oxford Brookes University. Instead of taking the path of common animal science to learn about farm animals, or through the veterinarian space and taking a certificate in nutrition, he took the road less travelled to dive deep into the world of animal ecology, metabolism and nutrition.