One of the best things about owning a dog is seeing the level of joy that comes when you give them a treat! Dogs love snacks as much as we do, and are motivated to learn new tricks or establish positive behaviors when the promise of a good treat is on the line. But what’s in those dog treats you buy in bulk at the store? The answer might shock you. Here are some of the most surprising, unhealthy ingredients that can be found in a typical bag of dog treats:
We know the bag of treats you picked up for your dog says they’re made from chicken, but trust us- if the treats aren’t organic, free-range, or all-natural, it’s more likely to be “chicken” instead of chicken. What do we mean? Some companies use poultry meal in lieu of actual pieces of chicken to create their treats. This poultry meal, which is essentially a ground-up blend of all chicken parts, can contain as little as 4 percent real chicken. Be sure that any treats you purchase include actual chicken in the list of ingredients to maximize the health benefits to your dog.
If you regularly purchase dog treats that claim to contain bacon, stop! Many manufacturers of dog treats use a number of artificial colors and flavors to achieve a somewhat bacon-like look and smell, while hardly using any real bacon at all! In fact, even treats out of 100 percent real bacon would still be a very unhealthy snack for dogs. As much as they love bacon, it’s just as bad for dogs as it is for humans!
We’re not sure why some companies find it necessary to add artificial coloring to treats since dogs have a limited sense of vision and perceive most of their world through smell, but food coloring is a common additive in dog treats. Adding color to dog food and treats is unnecessary at best and harmful at worst- as with human diets, it’s best to limit the number of artificially-occurring ingredients in your dog’s diet.
Since many dog treats are manufactured to have a long shelf life, a number of them contain preservatives to help them retain freshness for months. While preservatives can be necessary to help a product last longer, especially when it contains animal proteins, there is a difference between natural and artificial preservatives. As with human food, artificial preservatives are not healthy and should be avoided in favor of fresh, natural foods. Additionally, some synthetic preservatives found in dog food and treats, such as ethoxyquin, can be potentially toxic to pets.
Next time you’re in the market for dog treats, try a natural pet food store. These shops carry a broad range of dog treats, like hemp treats for dogs, that your pup will find delicious! By choosing dog treats made from healthy ingredients, you can help give your dog the best possible quality of life and help keep them healthy for years to come.