We all love giving Fido or Fluffy a treat every now and again. For many pets, it's part of their daily routine, and we often don't put much thought into it. However, considering the number of pets that are overweight (treats can have more than 20 calories each) and some ingredients are downright dangerous, we may need to take a closer look at what is in the cookie jar.
When deciding what treats to buy, the first thing to check is the list of ingredients. What you want to look for is:
- minimal list of ingredients
- named protein sources
- no artificial preservatives, colouring, flavours, nor added sweeteners or salt
And here is what you would want to avoid when looking through the treat aisle:
- artificial preservatives such as BHA, BHT (BHT is not a listed carcinogen, but some data have shown that it does cause cancer in animals), ethoxyquin
- chemical humectants like propylene glycol (used in keep treats moist) instead look for vegetable glycerin or even molasses is a better option
- unnamed meats (can included euthanized animals, and the 4 D's) and by-products
- treats from China have been linked to many recalls
Here is an example of a less desirable treat
"Ground Whole Wheat, Wheat Flour, Meat and Bone Meal, Milk, Beef Fat (preserved with BHA/BHT), Salt, Natural Flavor, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Malted Barley Flour, Brewers Dried Yeast, Sodium Metabisulfite (used as a preservative), Minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin Supplement, Vitamin A Supplement, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement), BHA (used as a preservative)"
Personally when I give my pet's a treat, it's one with added goodness like a dental chew. There is a huge market today for treats with added benefits like oral care, hip & joint, calming, immunity, skin & coat, digestive aids, etc. Keep in mind though that a lot of these are higher in calories. And let's not forget all the yummy treats that we can share from our own pantry; a piece of apple, a slice of banana, cucumber, a piece of pepper. These are especially useful for dogs that may need to shed some weight.
Overall, treats should never exceed 10% of a pet's daily caloric intake. Check the list of ingredients list and the calories per treat. Stick to a treat with a short list of ingredients and limited processing. Why not make your own? We have recipe books at the shop for you to borrow!