As a dog owner, I know you love to give special treats to your furry friend. But there are many products out there, that like toys, can be dangerous or unhealthy for your dog. Some dog treats can be like junk food for dogs, and just as eating too much junk food isn’t healthy for you, it isn’t healthy for your dog either. Knowing whats in your dog’s treats is just as important as knowing whats in your dog’s food. Follow some of the tips and guidelines below, and your dog will stay happy and healthy while still adoring you for the delicious treats you give out!
Dog Treats to Avoid
Like dog food, you want to avoid any products that obviously contain excessive amounts of food coloring, or artificial flavoring. These are products that are brightly colored, or make oustanding claims about their “real” flavor, which is often not real at all. The chemicals used in the manufacturing of such products are not healthy for your pet, and can even be harmful. As a general warning, be weary of treats that are made in China. I don’t mean to disqualify the products of an entire country, but there have been multiple recalls on dog treats from China, most notably chicken jerky.
Check the ingredients on dog treats and be sure to avoid any that contain corn or wheat as their first ingredient as this is just a “filler” and has no nutritional value for your animal. Also avoid anything that contains preservativesdyes, or sugar in any form.
Popular preservatives include BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene), BHA (Butylated Hydroxysanisole), Ethoxyquin, andPropyl Gallate. I know these names can be long and complicated to remember when you are checking boxes, but a general rule I like to use is if I wouldn’t eat it, I wouldn’t feed it to my dog. Does Butylated Hydroxytoluene sound like something you want in your body? As information, it is a known carcinogen for humans and animals, banned in many countries, but unfortunately, still allowed in the US. The same goes for BHA.
Sugars can hide on the ingredients list in the form of cane molasses, corn syrup, fructose, and sorbitol. All of these are sweetening products, and none of them are good for your dog.
Dye ingredients are usually pretty obvious as they are generally listed by the name of the color, such as Yellow 5, Red 40, etc.
A great way to know that you are avoiding especially unsafe food and treats is to periodically check the recall list published by the FDA. A large variety of recalled pet foods and treats are listed by the FDA, and can be accessed here.
Like all things you give your dog, the more “natural,” the better. Great treat ideas include ice cubes, small pieces of chicken meat (no bones), baby carrots, peanut butter, bananas, and sweet potatoes. Of course these all depend on what your dog will eat, but give something new a try. You may be surprised by what your dog will enjoy. I know that I often am. But please be advised that giving your dog “human” food still calls for safety and knowledge of what is safe, and what isn’t.
Common foods that you should NEVER feed your dog include chocolate, onions, grapes, avocado, garlic, macadamia nuts, peaches, plums, an excessive amount of raw eggs (though beware of e. coli), and yeast dough. If you are not sure about a particular food, always ask your veterinarian before you feed it to your dog. Otherwise, you may be calling your veterinarian shortly anyways when Fido begins to show sign of illness from the food you were sure was safe for him to eat.