Dog treats are a tough thing at my house. My trail dog Cheyenne has some nasty food allergies to beef and chicken proteins. Just a little will cause her paws to itch like crazy – she’ll lay and chew them trying to get some relief. And, she’ll stink. I don’t mean she’ll smell a bit like a dirty dog, I mean she’ll stink like a cow barn.
Before we learned what was ailing her, weekly baths were in order and “stop licking your paws” was uttered every day. We were feeding her a good quality food so we were naive in thinking she maybe she had dry skin or “was just a stinky dog”.
Finally, after taking her to the vet for an abrasion on her neck that wouldn’t heal, we learned the truth. The vet took one look, asked a few questions that seemed odd at the time – “Does she constantly lick her feet?” “Does she need to be bathed often?” – and declared “I think she has allergies!”.
We resolved her issues really quickly with a limited ingredient food made of salmon and sweet potatoes (Natural Balance Limited Ingredient). However, treats remained tough. Natural Balance makes a biscuit of the same formula which she likes but that’s it. We’ve been uneasy to branch out into other treats as so many contain beef or poultry in some fashion.
Enter Campfire Treats. Campfire Treats reached out to us last year to see if we’d be interested in testing their treats. I have to admit I forgot to respond (for 4 months; #embarrassed) but after apologies, they were gracious enough to send us their Cod Skin Sticks for Cheyenne to try and sent their Beef Hearty Bites to our other editor Devin to try with her dog, Bella.
Keep reading for a review of both treats and a Q & A with Campfire Treats to learn a little more about this small family-owned business based in Northern California.
Campfire Treats Alaskan Crunch Cod Skin Sticks
So, with Cheyenne’s food allergies, I almost passed this review straight to Devin. I’m so used to not being able to test something like this with Cheyenne or it’s just the same thing we already give her, from a different brand. But when I looked further I was excited to see the dried Cod Skin sticks – the only ingredient – Cod skins! The first test passed.
While Cheyenne can’t tell me how they taste, I think it’s a safe assumption that she likes them. She just turned 10 but will nearly dance a jig in the kitchen when the container comes out of the pantry. The first time around she wasn’t too sure. She sniffed the stick and tentatively took it. Once she crunched in though, she was hooked!
Because of the shape, I’d say they’re most convenient as a treat at home. Their about 12 inches long, rolled up and about as big around as a highlighter marker. However, if you’re dog has food issues like Cheyenne, the treats do break into small pieces fairly easily by hand where you could toss them in a bag for training treats.
They do have a slight fishy smell as you might expect – they are 100% cod skins – however, it’s not overpowering by any means.
Being dried and crunchy, they can leave some crumbs, especially if you feed the stick whole but I wouldn’t call them messier than any other crunchy treat.
A package of 10 Cod Skin Sticks will cost you $14.95. For me, that’s a great price point for a high-quality treat that we feed once or twice a week as something special. Honestly, for a treat that comes from wild caught cod, sustainably harvested in Northern Alaska, then hand rolled and dehydrated, it’s a solid deal.
Campfire Treats Beef Hearty Bites
We’ve tried a lot of treats with Bella. She’s extremely food motivated and always pretty stoked to eat anything. So when Jason mentioned that there were some new treats headed our way to test, I honestly didn’t think a lot about it at first.
When Campfire Treats Beef Hearty Bites arrived in our mailbox, I was happy to hop on the company’s website and see how well made and carefully sourced the single ingredients were. The meats are all sourced in the USA from human grade, and USDA certified meats. You won’t find any additives or preservatives, and they are made in small batches to ensure quality. Even though I mentioned that Bella isn’t very picky, we, her humans, have come to be pretty picky about what we feed her. My husband, Pat, and I are actually vegetarians, so it’s important to our personal set of ethics to feed Bella meats that are as responsibly and humanely sourced as possible. Ethics aside, we also feel that feeding pure meats is so much healthier for her.
Bella has been recovering from a chronic shoulder injury for seven months now, and an important part of her recovery has been twice-daily physical therapy at home under the guidance of a canine rehabilitation specialist. I was excited to discover that the Campfire Treats Hearty Bites are cut to a training treat size, as these are precisely the types of treats we’ve been blowing through for her physical therapy.
At first, I was worried she might swallow them whole being a larger, 60lb dog, only to puke them up later, but this hasn’t been an issue for the almost two months that we have been using them. I love that the treats are small enough to work as a training treat, yet are highly reinforcing. As the only ingredient is 100% beef heart, they fit well into our raw feeding philosophy. I love that Bella is getting only quality calories for her training with no added junk she doesn’t need. This has become extremely important to us, as we’ve had to restrict her calories along with her exercise levels during her recovery.
Another great aspect of these treats is that they aren’t stinky at all and don’t crumble or leave grease in your pockets as other raw treats typically do. This makes them ideal to carry around in your backpack or pants pocket to help with recall or other commands while out on the trail. The container they come in is a little bulky for hiking or walking, so you will want to transfer them to a bag or pocket of some sort for that purpose, but the rigid container has actually been very convenient for at-home use for physical therapy. While we are mostly using them at home right now, once Bella is allowed to be off-leash on the trails again I know this will be my go-to treat.
We were sent two containers of the Hearty Bites to try. After going through the first container, I changed to a bag of other training treats that had been sent to us by another company, simply because they had been laying around for a while and I wanted to use them up. A day after changing treats, we noticed that Bella wasn’t as enthusiastic about her daily physical therapy exercises.
Slightly concerned that something was wrong with her physically, we decided to open up the second container of Heart Bites just in case it was the value level of the treat that was changing her energy levels during PT. Sure enough, once I popped the second container of Hearty Bites, she was immediately back to her old, motivated self.
We just finished the second container today, and once I’m done working on this review, the next item on my “To Do List” is head over to Campfire’s website and order two more containers. While a 3.5-ounce container runs for $14.95, this is in-line with the cost of most high quality treats out there, and lasts us for almost a month with liberal treat feeding twice a day.
Campfire Treats Q & A
1. Is Campfire Treats a family affair?
It all began when we were looking for high-quality treats for our own family dog – a Vizsla named Pippa. We were frustrated that most of the items we found were made of low-quality, feed-grade ingredients, often even coming from overseas, and contained all kinds of hard to pronounce additives and chemicals. That didn’t feel right, so we started making our own treats using only human-grade, locally sourced ingredients. Pippa loved them, and so did the dogs of our friends and neighbors. Eventually, we decided to start a business, which is how Campfire Treats got its start.
The first treat we made was a beef product, which we later named “Hearty Bites.” Hearty Bites are small dehydrated cubes of beef heart. They are great for both dog and puppy training, as they are perfectly bite-sized. They aren’t greasy and don’t stink or crumble. This allows you to simply put them in your pocket. At the same time, they are super lean and loaded with protein. Dogs love them!
2. Where do you do your production?
We are located in Rocklin, a small city in Northern California. At this location, we have a small retail outlet, an office, a warehouse and our commercial kitchen where we make all of our treats and chews. Everything is handcrafted and made in small batches, which allows us to guarantee quality and freshness.
3. How do you source your ingredients?
All of our ingredients are of human-grade quality and sourced from U.S. farms and fisheries. We are fortunate that we have numerous local family farms situated in a radius of less than 100 miles around us. Whenever possible we buy from those farms, and the fish we use is wild-caught from the Pacific Ocean.
4. I noticed in the Cod Skin Sticks that we’ve been using, there is one ingredient, cod skins! Is this typical in today’s treat market?
It is unfortunately not. Most of the treats you see in pet stores or supermarkets are composed of a large number of ingredients. They often contain all kinds of additives, chemicals, and preservatives, while meat or fish makes up only a small part of the overall content.
5. So far, what has been your most popular product?
It’s hard to pick just one product because both our Natural Chicken Jerky Strips and the Hearty Bites dog training treats are customer favorites. Interestingly enough, some of our more exotic looking treats like chicken necks or dehydrated anchovies are also extremely popular.
6. What’s next at Campfire Treats?
We are being contacted by a lot of dog owners who are looking for treats for pups suffering from various allergies and sensitivities. To provide an even broader range of choices for dogs with sensitivities, we are looking into adding additional treats made from low-allergen meats such as lamb or goat.
Where to Buy Campfire Treats for Your Dog
You can buy directly online from Campfire treats at campfiretreats.com.
They’re also being sold in more and more pet specialty stores around the country. If you would like to buy Campfire Treats locally, please ask the owners of your preferred pet specialty store to reach out!