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Choosing Treats for Dogs – What to Look for and What to Avoid?

Choosing Treats for Dogs – What to Look for and What to Avoid?

As a pet owner, we have to admit that oftentimes it’s hard to resist those pleading puppy eyes under the table. And even those drools when it comes to sharing a bite of your food. That’s why you had no other option but to give in and offer the food to them anyway.

Treats can be a good thing for dogs. Some improve canine dental health. Others are motivational for dog training. Some are simply to strengthen the strong bond between you and your dog. Unfortunately, these treats can sometimes cause risk to their health, such as obesity or weight gain. This is an alarming concern. Especially in the USA as many of these treats are high in fats or sugars as well as allergens like wheat, soy, and corn.

Thus, many pet parents switch to natural or organic dog treats for the sake of their pet’s health. Organic or natural dog treats can offer a lot of benefits for your pet. Such as…

  • defending the body against diseases
  • improving brain health and appearance
  • good digestion
  • stronger dental health
  • efficient weight control
  • decreased allergic response
  • fewer hairballs
  • increased longevity

However, with so many choices out there, how do you pick the right dog treats for your pup. And what truly makes a great dog treat? Read on to find out.

What to Look for When Choosing Dog Treats?

Natural Treats

Several natural or organic dog treats are lining up on the market shelves. However, it’s hard to say if they really are purely ‘organic’ or only contain a bit of it. There are certain advice to keep in mind when choosing the best treats for puppies:

  1. Pure or 100% Organic means every ingredient is natural and has no artificial chemicals or colorings.

2. Organic means that it has 95% natural ingredients, and a small percentage may contain artificial components.

3. Brands that have “made with organic ingredients” means only 70% of it are truly organic.

4. Experts enforce transparent and proper labeling on animal food packaging to make it easier for dog owners.

5. Pet artisanal and homemade treats can be good healthy alternatives for your dogs. There are a variety of healthy homemade dog treat recipes available on the web. Like carrot dog treats, dehydrated apple chips, oatmeal dog treats, pumpkin, yogurts, and more.

6. Freeze-dried ingredients are not something to be alarmed of. Freeze drying is also a natural method of preserving food and is safe for both human and pet consumption.

Quality and Source of Ingredients

Product ingredients are listed by quantity–from highest to lowest amount or by weight. When it comes to buying dog treats, a good rule of thumb is to scan the first few ingredients. These will comprise the majority of the content and they should be mainly high in quality.

To know what constitutes quality in a dog treat ingredient, it should consist of top-quality components that are pure, fresh and minimally processed. Moreover, the product should be whole food ingredients rather than by-products. Preferably domestic ingredient sources for they are fresher and eco-friendly than shipped products. Every ingredient on the label should be easily identifiable food. There should be a simpler list of ingredients, a little natural sweetening. And of course, more organic ingredients.

Natural Preservatives

If the product is preserved, it contains natural preservatives. Adding natural substances such as Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and Plant extracts (e.g. rosemary) are effective and safe preservatives to dry pet food. Unfortunately, natural preservatives can only last for a shorter period of time. Thus, these should be used promptly by checking the “best buy” date on the label and storing it properly in a refrigerator.

What to Avoid When Choosing Dog Treats?

Artificial Preservatives

As opposed to natural preservatives, artificial preservatives can greatly extend the product’s shelf life with typically a year. Discouragingly, many of these preservatives are known to have carcinogens (cancer-causing genes) and other main culprits. There is BHT, BHA, sodium nitrate, nitrate. Worst of all is thoxyquin which is linked to certain types of dog kidney cancer and liver cancer.

Artificial Coloring

Food that comes in a rainbow of colors may be appealing or comforting. But a study claimed that food dyes, especially used in huge amounts, may have cancer-causing effects. Plus they can have health risks such as allergies or even hyperactivity to children. If food coloring isn’t safe already for humans, what more for dogs and cats?


Additionally to the mentioned food additives above, other chemicals that need to be avoided. These are all toxic for animal consumption…

  • titanium dioxide
  • calcium propionate
  • copper sulphate
  • sodium bisulfite
  • zinc sulphate
  • propylene glycol

Another report claims that some of the famous pet treats’ brands contained arsenic that is poisonous for dogs. Plus the ethoxyquin chemical that was mentioned earlier is actually used for pesticides and as a hardening agent for rubber. Propyl Gallate and BHT substances are also used for cosmetics. Whereas TBHQ is used to stabilize varnishes, explosives, resins and lacquers and are linked to stomach tumors and might cause damage to DNA. 

Rawhide Products

Rawhides are great long-lasting chews that most puppies and dogs love. They are a tasty snack that helps keep dogs busy and even help clean teeth and promote oral health. However, this product is essentially poor-quality leather. It contains artificial flavors added to make it appealing but with no nutritional value. Plus it has been proved that it will not dissolve in a dog’s gut. It can either choke your dog while eating, block his intestine or kill them. Which can lead to an expensive operation. 

Final Thoughts

Keep in mind that owning a dog means being a responsible owner. It’s easy to give in and spoil your dog with whatever you see and think is healthy. Nonetheless, you must still practice vigilance, as not all dog treat makers comply with what’s truly good for your canine pal’s health.

Your dog’s general well-being should come first so make sure to read the ingredients. Recognize the risk of the chemicals or additives added into your pet’s food. Seek for high quality components with a well-balanced nutrition. Or you can choose to make one yourself at home. Keep their diet as healthy as possible –and most importantly, consult your local veterinarian to prevent unnecessary harm as well as help you choose the best dog treats product for your pooch.

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