Updated: Jun 21
Our pets mean the world to us, they cheer us up when we are having a bad day, make us smile, snuggle us when we feel ill and nothing makes us happier than seeing them happy and healthy.
One of the easiest ways to excite and reward our pets is with food and treats. They play an important part in everyday life for our furry friends.
Treats are great and the perfect way to praise your four legged friend, and a useful training aid, but it is important to be mindful of what your dog is eating and to feed our dogs a healthy, well- balanced dog treat.
The majority of shop bought treats are made by massive companies such as Mars, where high profits are the main drive. They want products produced in bulk for the minimal price and this means the quality of the ingredients has much to be desired.
Shop bought treats are convenient to pick up and inexpensive, but do you really know whats in them, have you studied the ingredients?
Here are some shocking examples:
Shop bought milk bones contain 30 ingredients!
Popular Gravy Bones are very high calorie treats which can lead to obesity (343 kcal/ 100g) which is one of the highest calorie treats on the market. This is 100 kcal higher than a Big Mac/ 100g!!
Dentastix contain natural poultry flavour, this is animal digest which is chemically treated with acids and enzymes to give the concentrated flavours. Only a small amount of 'chicken digest' is required to brand a treat 'chicken flavoured' . A much better option is to brush your dogs teeth than feed your dogs these poor quality ingredients.
If a label states meat and animal derivatives this could mean any part of a warm blooded land animal...beaks, eyeballs, feathers, hooves. If the treats contained good quality protein they would make that clear on the label.
White treats are white in colour like raw hide, this white colour is not natural, far from it. Raw hide is made up of collagen and has little nutritional value, it is the layer left once the top layer of animal skin is removed for leather. It can also lead to intestinal blockages as it's often is not fully broken down before leaving the stomach. Pig snouts, chicken feet or anything that is not its original colour has been treated with chemicals (can be bleach and glue), preserved and cleaned with detergents. Some are coated in artificial flavours to make them more appealing.
Some companies use vague descriptions of ingredients, this is a red flag, examples are animal derivatives, derivatives of vegetable origin and cereals. They do this so they can change the ingredients in each batch depending what is available at the cheapest price.
Many manufactures add sugar to the treats to improve the taste when cheap, low quality ingredients have been used. Sugar has no place in a dogs diet and causes weight gain, dental problems and can also lead to illness.
Some natural products can also be harmful, animal bi products such as antlers and hooves can be nutritious and beneficial, but I have seen several of my patients with badly worn/ cracked and snapped teeth from chewing such hard products.
There has been much controversy over the food additive E320 or BHA. It's used as a preservative to lengthen shelf life and found in a wide variety of treats. Many products don't list it ingredients and instead put antioxidant or preservative. It has been shown in large amounts to cause cancer, it's banned in Japan and labeled carcinogenic in the US. It is not known how dangerous it is at low levels.
Ethoxyquin is found as a preservative, in excess it can cause liver damage and is banned from human food.
The E numbers, preservatives and additives are routinely added to shop bought treats. Bakers dog food has 10 different E numbers in their complete dog food! No wonder some dogs fed this are impossible to train and constantly hyper!!
Most dogs are happy with any treat, so why don't we give them a healthier option?? They don't need to be full of fat, sugar and additives for them still to be delicious. Our pets cant choose their treats so its up to us to make an informed decision on what we give them on their behalf. Many dogs have several treats a day and the negative affects shop bought treats could have will soon add up.
Licensed local bakeries that use human- grade ingredients can be an excellent alternative to commercial treats.
To browse a selection of delicious, healthy, vet formulated, handcrafted pet treats click below.