We all love treats, and our dogs look forward to them, but before you make a decision on what type of dog treat to buy, do a little research. Many popular treats are full of artificial ingredients, fillers, and other harmful additives that are not good for your dog. Treats in all shapes, sizes, and colors fill entire aisles at pet stores. Marketing these treats has become big business, and since dogs are indiscriminate eaters, who will devour just about anything, so it is the responsibility of the humans to choose treats that are healthy for their pooches. Some people foods are toxic to dogs and should be avoided. Chocolate and dogs don’t mix. Just an ounce of dark chocolate can be a serious problem for a small dog. Dogs are also sensitive to a chemical in grapes and raisins that induces kidney failure. Chicken, turkey, or ham bones can cause gastritis and perforate the small intestine. Macadamia nuts can cause fever, diarrhea, and neurological problems! Other foods to avoid are avocados which can cause heart damage, and onions which can damage red blood cells.
To take the guesswork out of what’s a good treat, and more importantly, what is not, you can check the website of the ASPCA at www.aspca.org where they give a comprehensive list of treats to avoid. Some people foods are great treats. Most dogs love raw carrots, and they are good for the animal’s teeth. Beef knuckle bones, or large, sturdy leg bones are usually safe if you trim off excess fat that could trigger diarrhea. (In a multi-dog household, be aware that even normally gentle dogs may decide a bone is worth a fight). Animal based chews are hits with most dogs, but rawhide, hooves, and pig ears can all cause problems, especially with aggressive chewers. If big hunks of rawhide are chewed off and swallowed, serious internal problems can result. Never give these treats to your dog unless you are there to supervise! If you buy commercial packaged treats, check the ingredient list on the package BEFORE you buy. (You will probably be horrified to find out what is really in those cute little tidbits!)
Good treats should NOT contain:
- animal by-products …this term can mean almost anything
- artificial preservatives such as BHT, BHA, or Ethoxyquin
- artificial colors…your dog doesn’t care what color his food is. He doesn’t need exposure to unnecessary chemicals, and green, red, and yellow treats contain dyes
- propylene glycol, a chemical which is added to some “chewy” treats to keep them moist.
If you are serious about giving your dog healthy treats, the best solution is to make homemade ones. Remember, the dogs don’t care about appearance. They go for taste, and there are many simple recipes to satisfy the most finicky dog! Here are two, guaranteed to please, easy to make, recipes from our TLC Canine Cookbook. ENJOY!
SSS BISCUITS (Simply Scrumptious Simple Biscuits)
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 6 Tablespoons oil
- 2/3 cup meat broth
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
Mix ingredients well. Drop by spoonfuls onto greased baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
- 1 egg
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup honey
- 1/ ½ cups flour
- ¾ cup cornmeal
- ¼ cup oatmeal
Mix thoroughly. Drop walnut sized pieces on lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Tony Buffington, professor in veterinary clinical services at Ohio State University stresses that treats do not have to be food…”Treats are things that bring joy….if you want to provide your dog with a good treat, take him for a walk, and give him extra attention. He appreciates your time more than a snack.”