HOW TO SELECT HEALTHY DOG TREATS
With so many options available on the market shelves and in e-stores today, it can be really daunting to know what kinds of products to buy for your dog. Just like many human sweets, dog treats tend to be less than ideal when it comes to quality and nutrition. We all want the best for our four-legged friends, so what should a health-conscious pet owner do when looking for healthy dog treats? Learning to read food labels is a must when sorting out the good from the bad. There are things to look for and things to definitely avoid. Keep these indications in mind and your furry companion will thank you.
What to Look for When Shopping
The first and second ingredients on the food label are the ones present in greater quantity in the treat. This is where you can immediately find out if you’ve got a healthy dog treat or not. The first spots should be dedicated to fresh, minimally processed whole food ingredients. If you’re going for a meat-based treat, the first places should be dedicated to the meat.
Along with real meat, good treats will often have real fruits and vegetables included in the list of ingredients. It’s important to avoid ingredients that are harmful to dogs, such as raisins or grapes, but other fruits and vegetables can be a great source of vitamins and minerals.
The Proper Names
The name used to indicate ingredients is very important. It can tell you a lot about the quality of the product you’re considering. Try to avoid generic names. For example, “meat meal” does not tell you what animal the meat came from or what part of the animal it is, while “chicken breast” gets very specific. Similarly, “apple flavour” will tell you that there’s not much apple in the product at all (usually less than 3%).
What to Avoid When Shopping
Generally, steering clear of sweet treats a good idea. Sweeteners are unusual for dog nutrition and thus present a higher risk of various health issues. However, some natural sweeteners (such as honey) can be found in moderate amounts even in healthy dog treats, and an occasional sweet treat of this kind can be alright. However, it’s important to avoid all artificial sweeteners, such as sucrose, caramel, or high fructose corn syrup. These are very harmful to dogs and frequent consumption can create a variety of problems, such as tooth decay, obesity, and allergies, among others.
Soy and its many derivatives are often used in pet treats because they’re a cheaper source of protein than meat and can thus give that feeling of fullness while slashing the costs. However, soy is not a natural part of a dog’s diet and can cause allergies with frequent consumption. It’s best to avoid soy-based treats, especially if your dog is already sensitive to other allergens.
Corn is often used in dog treats as it is cheap and filling. However, there’s not much nutritional value in it for dogs. It has also been linked to inflammatory bowel disease, as their digestive tract is not made to process it. Some other grains may be alright, as long as they’re not the main feature of the product. However, many dogs are allergic to grains, so it’s important you observe your dog’s reaction with treats that contain them.
These are often found in dog bones such as rawhide, and the idea is to have the treat last as long as possible so your dog can chew at it happily and you don’t have to spend a lot of money replacing it frequently. However, as with all things, there is definitely a catch. Many of these longer-lasting dog treats are filled with artificial preservatives that are not good for your pet’s overall health. You will find these on the label marked as BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, potassium sorbate, or sodium nitrate. Try and avoid them if you’re looking for healthy dog treats.
Let’s be realistic here: does your dog really care what colour your treats are? He’s just happy to receive something yummy (and to get attention from you, his beloved owner). Bright, flashy colours are often added to dog treats to make them more appealing to consumers, so they’ll buy them on impulse instead of considering labels carefully. The truth is, these artificial colours can be dangerous to your dog’s health and provide no added benefits.
Some dog treats will contain milk and other dairy products. These can often be difficult for dogs to digest and many of them are outright lactose intolerant. When looking for healthy dog treats, try to avoid dairy altogether and go for simpler options containing meat, fruits, and veggies.
Let’s face it, we’re all tempted to go for snacks that are more affordable, as pet care can really be expensive when considered on the whole! However, trying to budget on food is not the the right way to go. Your dog’s nutrition is important! It’s much better to skip the fancy toys and frequent groomer’s visits if you need to lower your expenses, all while keeping a vigilant eye on what you put in his bowl. Treats that are “too good to be true” in terms of price probably are. Low-quality ingredients can take a serious toll on your dog’s wellbeing, so consider spending a little more to be guaranteed quality.