Do you really know what you are feeding your dog? At Vanillapup, we encourage dog owners to read ingredients lists but we understand that not many people are as obsessed with labels as us.
But knowing just a few types of ingredients to avoid can make a huge difference to your dog’s health.
There are stories from real owners of immediate effects (E.g. death, seizures, organ damage) of bad dog treats, not to mention the other more gradual effects, such as cancer, kidney disease, and diabetes.
Food and treat packaging can be very attractive, drawing your attention and making you think that they are natural and wholesome. But the truth lies in the ingredients list (well, at least what companies are legally required to declare).
The documentary, Pet Fooled shines the light on the pet food industry and uncovers some scary truths behind what really goes into our dog’s food. Any responsible dog owner should make time to watch it.
In this post, we thought it would be good to share our thoughts on some of the top-selling dog treats on the market. Some of you might think, “But we eat unhealthy snacks too, why should we be so strict with our pet’s diet?”
Well, the answer is simple. Most dogs are happy with any treat. So why don’t we give them a healthier option? Unlike us, dogs can’t choose their treats so it’s up to us to make discerning decisions on their behalf. What’s more, many dogs consume the same treats every day and their effects on our tiny dogs’ bodies could quickly add up.
If it doesn’t take much effort and cost, why not choose safer and healthier treats for your dog?
Why are these common dog treats bad dog treats?
The products’ ingredients lists presented here are taken from their official website or actual treat packaging. They are updated as of the post’s published date.
1. Raw hide from any source
Rawhide is a super popular form of chew for dogs. But what is it really?
Raw hide is basically the inner soft layer of an animal. It most commonly comes from cows.
Before it’s pressed into different shapes, it is chemically preserved and cleaned. Some raw hides come with artificial flavourings to make them more appealing to dogs.
Not only can raw hides cause choking and digestive obstruction, they may be contaminated with toxic chemicals. Feed at your dog’s risk.
Do note that besides the whole raw hide we usually see, there are meat treats on the market that contain raw hide.
Alternatives: Natural recreational bones, such as antler. Please monitor your dog whenever you feed a bone or chew toy.
2. Jerhigh (Chicken strip)
Chicken meat, wheat flour, glycerine, water, sugar, stabilizer, salt, meat flavour, preservative, smoke flavour, Vitamin E, colourant
These treats contain wheat flour, preservatives, colouring, flavouring, salt, and sugar – everything we don’t want in our dog’s food and treats. They are unnecessary and unhealthy, and it’s not clear exactly what are the preservatives, flavourings, and colourings.
Alternatives: DIY dehydrated meat slices, single ingredient freeze-dried or dehydrated meat.
3. Pedigree Dentastix Original
Wheat flour, canola oil, corn starch, hydrolysed poultry protein, natural flavouring, salt, ascorbyl palmitate, colourant, salmon flavour, rosemary extract oil, Vitamin E (RRR alpha tocopherol), Vitamin D3, Vitamin A.
These treats look really healthy, don’t they? The website says that Healthy Centres is formulated to enhance your pet’s well-being. But there’s nothing in the ingredients list that suggests so.
First of all, surprise, surprise, there’s no real salmon in this packet of treats. It contains salt, flavourings, and additive ascorbyl palmitate for taste. Hydrolysed poultry protein could be from real meat or by-product (leftover carcasses that are unfit for human consumption) but we will never know. There are also wheat flour and corn starch that can cause weight gain.
Alternatives: Freeze-dried single ingredient salmon and DIY dehydrated fish.
5. Greedy Dog Antioxidant Dog Treat (Carrot or Spinach)
Chicken meat, isolate soy protein, chicken flavour, gelatin, antioxidant fiber powder, sorbitol, glycerine, spinach or carrot, colourant
We see some fillers, such as isolate soy protein here, along with chicken flavouring and an unnamed colourant.
Alternatives: Frozen blueberries, baby carrots, and other fresh fruits and vegetables.
6. Beggin’ Strips
Ground wheat, corn gluten meal, wheat flour, water, glycerin, ground yellow corn, sugar, soybean meal, bacon (preserved with sodium nitrite), salt, bacon fat (preserved with BHA and citric acid), phosphoric acid, sorbic acid (a preservative), calcium propionate (a preservative), natural and artificial smoke flavours, red 40, yellow 5, blue 1, yellow 6, added colour T-4005
There are many things that are wrong with these treats. Firstly, bacon is bad for humans and they are bad for dogs. But let’s put that aside for now and see whether you are buying what the packaging appears to promise. The crispy bacon you see on the packaging? Nowhere near the first few ingredients. Instead, you find ingredients that could make your dog fat and diabetic.
At the ninth ingredient, you finally find bacon, which we all know is preserved with sodium nitrite, an ingredient that is carcinogenic. Then you have salt and bacon fat that’s preserved with BHA, a cancer-causing agent. Just don’t buy bacon or anything bacon-flavoured for your dog.
Food colourings are also in the list – totally unnecessary and harmful.
Alternatives: Single ingredient dehydrated or freeze-dried treats.
7. SmartBones Rawhide-free Chicken Mini Dog Chews
Corn, chicken, sorbitol, glycerin, fructose, pork gelatin, barley malt syrup, maltodextrin, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, dicalcium phosphate, salt, ferrous sulfate, titanium dioxide, zinc sulfate, artificial flavour, niacinamide, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate (preservative), sodium pyrophosphate, sodium propionate (preservative), sodium tripolyphosphate, Vitamin E, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, thiamine hydrochloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, manganese sulfate, Vitamin B12 supplement, fd&c red 40.
SmartBones were created as a substitute of the dangerous raw hide. But is it any good? The ingredients list says no. It contains a whole lot of unnecessary and potentially harmful ingredients, including a controversial additive, maltodextrin, artificial flavouring, fd&c red 40 colouring and fattening carbohydrates.
Alternatives: Natural recreational bones, such as antler.
8. Wagg Tasty Bones
Wheat, poultry meal (4% chicken), glycerine, liver digest (4% liver), fat, minerals, whey powder.
These well-packaged treats contain low-quality ingredients. “Chicken” really means rendered leftovers. Why would you pay good money for substandard treats?
Alternatives: Dehydrated or freeze-dried meats.
What else to look out for
Sometimes companies aren’t that honest with what they put on the ingredients list. If you see vague descriptions of ingredients, that’s a sign to put the treat back where it belongs.
Also, see where the treats are manufactured and packaged. For example, most people would consider treats made in Singapore, New Zealand, and the United States to be better than treats made in China. Licensed local bakeries that use healthier human-grade ingredients could be an excellent alternative to commercial treats.
Lastly, it is, of course, the best if the ingredients are human-grade, organic, and free-range.
Do you have any experience with bad dog treats? Share it with us by commenting below.