We all do it; we give our pets treats as a reward or just because we love them. And many times pet owners don’t think about the extra calories in treats or worse yet consider if the treat contains harmful ingredients. ‘It’s a treat, it won’t hurt anything – right? Well, it could. Dog and cat treats are NOT required to meet the nutritional standards of pet food and many, many are nothing more than junk food for pets adding useless calories and potentially dangerous ingredients to their diet. So please…don’t give your pet a treat – give them a ‘bonus’.
A ‘bonus’ would be one of the many treats that contains added nutrients and health promoting ingredients. Some that even their pet food can’t provide or doesn’t provide enough of. A ‘bonus’ can add these health promoting benefits to your pets diet and many of them can do this in a low fat/low calorie fashion.
Poor quality treats contribute to the obesity problem in pets. I’ve talked to many pet owners who have been directed by their Veterinarian for the pet to lose a few pounds – yet owners forget about the contribution that a handful of treats add to the weight problem. And right along with weight issues, many treats are made using by-products and chemical preservatives and utilize ingredients that are difficult for the pet to digest. You might be feeding your dog or cat the right food – yet they still show signs of being overweight or digestion and/or allergy issues. It could be that you have forgotten about looking at the ingredients in treats. And good marketing helps to sway pet owners from even thinking about looking at ingredients.
A few months back, I went to one of the pet super stores to browse the dog and cat treats – just to see what they offered. A mom and her two sons with dog in tow were searching for dog treats. The only ones that caught their attention were treats that had some type of human food connection like ‘ribs’, ‘bacon’, and so forth. Never once did they look at the ingredients on the ‘ribs’ or ‘bacon’ treats – I did and every single variety they picked out contained by-products and BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin. The pet treat marketing lured them into a comfort zone thinking treats with names like ‘ribs’ and ‘bacon’ were as safe as human food. Again, every single treat this family picked out contained by-products and chemical preservatives linked to cancer. Pet owners must look at the ingredients of everything they feed their pet. Treat manufacturers are NOT going to alert you if they use risky ingredients. As you would guess, treats with the names ‘Chicken Feet Dog Treats’, ‘Cow Intestines Cat Treats’, or ‘Cancer Causing Chemical Treats’ won’t be top selling items; yet more treats than you realize contain all three of these undesirable ingredients.
Read those labels regardless what the name of the dog treat or cat treat implies. Avoid treats that contain the ingredients ‘by-product’, ‘meat and bone meal’, ‘animal digest’, ‘BHA’, ‘BHT’, and ‘ethoxyquin’ (the short list). Look for health promoting ingredients like antioxidants and omegas from natural sources and as supplements. Don’t forget about some ‘people food’ bonuses. Carrots, green beans, and apple slices make great treats for dogs (and even some cats). Canned pumpkin makes a great healthy treat for cats. Always consult your veterinarian if you have a pet health condition or you have any questions. Stop feeding treats, give your pet a bonus instead!
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author, Buyer Beware
Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
What’s in Your Pet’s Food?
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