ARE YOU “mis-TREAT-ing” YOUR DOG?
By, Katy Cable-A 3 min. Read
TRICK-OR-TREAT! It’s that time of year again. And now even pet retailers have gotten into the act by offering costumes and Halloween treats in every color, shape, and size. And it’s not just at Halloween.
Take your dog for a walk around my neighborhood on any given day and they will be offered a plethora of Pup-peroni, Milk Bones, and Beggin’ Strips before you even reach the corner. Most local shops also have water bowls and treat dishes filled with doggie delectables right at their entrance doors. Of course any pet store is certain to have goodies at the check-out registers. Basically everyday is a “trick-or-treat” opportunity for canines.
We all love rewarding our dogs and giving them goodies. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the joy dogs get devouring favorite treats. Let’s face it, it isn’t my charming personality that’s winning over the hearts of most dogs I meet, it’s THE TREATS! But it’s very important to apply the same principles of healthy ingredients when selecting them. I have learned the hard way, there are also some popular treats to avoid at costs.
My first Pug, Raisin knew exactly where to walk in the neighborhood to get the goods. Each day he would drag me on his preferred route. As Raisin aged I began to notice a direct correlation between his intake of treats and his tummy issues. I learned many expensive lessons the hard way and it’s my hope I can save you some of the same pitfalls. Here are a few startling facts as well as some nutritious alternatives to keep your pet happy, healthy and “well-treated!”
When it comes to pet treats use extreme caution! It’s not just your pup’s waistline that can suffer. I was given the Halloween scare of a lifetime when I began researching this blog and learning about all the toxic chemicals used in many popular pet treats. I was completely unaware of the high number of recalls and tragedies that have been the direct result of them. Most alarming is the fact that these products continue to be sold today in most popular grocery, and big box pet stores*.
SIZE MATTERS! Treats should be tiny, bite-sized morsels of food you can use to reward your pet for training and reinforcement of positive behavior. But remember, even tiny amounts of treats can add up over time. Dogs can quickly start packing on pounds or stop eating their more nutritious meals. Most treats contain preservatives, additives, flavor enhancers, artificial colors and flavorings. But some some even contain ingredients that have proven to be lethal.
For starters, most treats are not dainty morsels but biscuits as big as SmartCars. Not only are they too large for most dogs, they contain harmful ingredients like those highlighted below. Here’s a list of a few “No-No” Ingredients found in many popular varieties of treats currently sold in most grocery and large pet stores. I would stay away from any treat containing these ingredients but most certainly those highlighted:
- Corn syrup (sugar and GMO’s) cellulose, fructose, molasses, are all sugars.
- Soy Flour (GMO’s)
- Wheat flour (Allergen)
- Corn Starch (GMO’s/hard to digest/bad carb)
- Propylene Glycol (Toxic preservative deemed safe for pets in small amounts by the FDA. Used in anti-freeze)
- BHA/BPA (Leading cancer-causing preservative)
- Yellow dye (Linked to cancer & behavioral issues. Banned in Europe)
- Red dye (Linked to cancer & hyper activity.
- Any Rendered Meats or By Products
- Unspecified ingredients (Ie: Meat flavors, Meat/poultry Meals, poultry fat)
Don’t get your pet in the habit of eating treats loaded with lousy ingredients. Everyday I meet pet parents who can’t get their sick pets off unhealthy junk. They become ill and stop eating anything nutritious. Just like it would be difficult to switch a child (or adult for that matter) to switch from Coco Puffs to plain puffed rice cereal, it can be equally as difficult to “detox” your dog over to a healthy, high-quality treat. All those sugars, flavor enhancers and whatnot are just as addictive to pets as they are to humans.
BUYER BEWARE! Some of the worst, deadliest treats can also be the most deceiving, Such as the case with RAW-HIDE! You can’t go into a big box pet store or super market without seeing more RAW HIDE than you can shake a stick at. Bones in every shape, size and color are front and center. Like me, most pet parents ASSUME if it’s sold at Target or your large pet store it must be safe. That couldn’t be further from the truth! RAWHIDE IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS AND IN MY OPINION SHOULD BE PULLED FROM THE SHELVES OF EVERY STORE.
The same holds true for many packaged jerky treats. These too are some of the most popular treats around. But what many people don’t realize is that the misleading bag that reads: “All Natural”, “Made in the USA” also may contain toxic additives from China. These products have killed or made thousands of dogs deathly ill. Rumor has it the problem was identified and sourcing was changed, but without any real regulation on pet treats it’s impossible to know the truth. I personally stay away from ALL treats with the exception of a few listed below and those from trusted sources.
If you just realized you’ve been feeding your dog toxic treats, or they are not up to par, don’t feel panic. There are lots of healthy options your pooch will love! Dr. Karen Becker, the world’s most popular integrated vet, offers an AMAZING line of nutritious, delicious treats and supplements: Dr. Becker Bites (See short video below of my meeting with Dr. Becker and her delightful family who makes the treats.)
JUST FOOD FOR DOGS also makes a variety of treats from fabulous, human-grade ingredients. They have several locations in California or you can purchase online by clicking on their name above.
If you’re looking for some healthy options your pet will love that you can grab at PetSmart or your local pet retailer, NULO has just introduced a new line of popular “human-grade” treats. They offer bite-sized training morsels and a variety of jerky. All treats are made with the same thoughtful consideration that goes into their pet food. Plus, the treats contain a patented probiotic, BC30, which aides immunity and digestion.
Many smaller independent pet retailers offer high quality, organic, human grade pet treats that are also wonderful options. It usually requires sifting through all the merchandising hype in larger big box stores.
Now when I’m out and about and kind strangers want to offer my dogs a treat, I explain they have allergies and give them my own goodies to feed them. I always carry a small sample bag of a high quality kibble in my pocket. If I’m in a pinch, Cheerios are a far better alternative to toxic treats. Small, gluten-free, low sugar morsels work perfect. This way, dogs aren’t getting sick. I also have the opportunity to make a new friend and introduce them to better quality pet treats.
When I’m at home with Olive, I use blueberries, apple slices, carrots and broccoli as tiny treats. But again, Olive is a pug who will devour anything she can get her mouth around. A dog with a pickier pallet may not go for those options. I recommend if you’re cooking and have any meat trimmings or organs, you cut them up into tiny pieces and freeze them to use as healthy treats or toppers.
Lastly, for those of you in the mood, here are some treat options you can easily make yourself. These are healthy, and will work for even a very sensitive dog. They are also far less expensive that what’s available in stores! So toss out those toxic Milk Bones, RAW HIDE and jerky treats and give a few of these options a go!
CRUNCHY PUMPKIN BISCUITS:
Makes 75 small biscuits /50 medium
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1/2 cup organic canned pumpkin
2 1/2 cups organic brown rice or coconut flour
1 tsp parsley (optional)
2 eggs (grind up shells in a coffee grinder for extra protein and nutrients)
- Unsalted, unsweetened, organic creamy peanut butter/coconut oil
- dried cranberries (THESE MAY BE USED AS A GARNISH IF DESIRED)
Combine eggs and pumpkin until smooth. Mix in parsley and flour. Roll mixture out using additional flour if needed for sticking and peanut butter or coconut oil for binding. Place small, bite-sized balls or shapes on cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Drizzle or dip warm biscuits into coconut oil or peanut butter and top with cranberry. Cool and freeze extras.