Halloween is fast approaching, but every day of the year, it’s trick for treats for our pets, rather than one or the other.
Unfortunately, like most snacks and treats for kids, many pet treats are "candy" meaning they’re loaded with sugars, fructose/glucose, artificial colours and flavours, glutens and other ingredients we know aren’t good for us or our pets. But they’re cheap, readily available and many dogs love them. Luckily, unlike our kids, most dogs prefer real foods, like meat, over candy, so we can spoil them with healthy treats!
Are the treats you are buying healthy? Read the label. I know, we always tell you to read the label, but this is the best source of information you can get about a product. Where was it made? What are the main ingredients? How is it preserved or coloured?
Many people are very concerned about where things are made these days. Too many recalls and warnings are issued about food products from certain areas of the world, so they would prefer more local supply. This is even more important for pet treats, as the standards for items "Not For Human Consumption" are a lot lower than people food.
Simple is better. There are many dog treats available which consist of a single ingredient. Beef liver can be baked into chips or freeze-dried. Salmon or chicken jerky, bull pizzles, pigs ears, and frozen raw chicken backs or necks can all be great treats. Smoked bones or even frozen raw marrow or knuckle bones (bison is a new favourite in our shop) are all natural, single-ingredient treats that can be both safe and nutritious. Many have an added dental cleaning effect that can’t be beat by "dental" treats loaded with chemicals and abrasives.
There are many grain-free dog cookies available today that use starches like potato or chickpeas to form the treat. These are usually made in small batches with wholesome and even organic ingredients. Cheese, peanut butter, liver, chicken, beef, salmon and turkey are common flavours that dogs go crazy over. There are even meat-free veggie cookies for our vegan friends.
Dog treats can be preserved with things not allowed into people food due to the dangers they pose. Hazardous chemicals like BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), ethoxyquin, and propylene glycol are not allowed in people food in many countries, because they can trigger allergic reactions or worse, they can be toxic or carcinogenic.
But they aren’t prohibited for use to preserve low-cost ingredients in pet foods and treats.
Dyes and colours that have been banned in people food can also find their way into pet treats. These are mainly meant to lure us into buying the product, as dogs have a completely different sense of colour than we do.
The best treats can be baked, dehydrated, smoked or frozen. These don’t need any added preservatives. Soft treats that are extruded treats can be naturally preserved with things like Vitamins C and E, mixed tocopherols and rosemary extract because their ingredients are of a higher quality and less likely to spoil.
With plenty of healthy treats available (some even cheaper than the "candy" ones), there is no reason to risk your pet’s health. Give them something that both tastes good and is good for them.