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Getting the best possible treats

Beautiful brown lab licking his jowls.
Getting the best possible treats, Let's talk turkey!

As a responsible dog owner, you want to ensure that your furry friend is getting the best possible treats. When it comes to dog treats, it’s not just about taste - it's also about promoting your dog's health and enjoyment. By choosing the right treats, you can enrich your dog's life experience and contribute to their overall well-being.

A chihuahua with a tiny shopping cart
It is time to go shopping for the right treats for me!

CONSIDER AGE. One important factor to consider when selecting treats is your dog's age. Puppies have different needs than adult dogs. Their treats should be softer and easier to chew, with higher levels of protein and calories to support their rapid growth.

Adult dogs have different nutritional goals depending on their stage in life. Young adult dogs need healthy treats that will contribute to their overall nutrient profile and not be fed to excess. Mature adults, on the other hand, require fewer calories since they are not as active as younger dogs. It's essential to choose treats that match your dog's current stage of life to avoid obesity and promote longevity and quality of life.

Dogs who are 25 percent or more of their estimated lifespan are considered senior dogs and require special care. As dogs age, their metabolism slows down, making them more susceptible to weight gain. Senior dogs need a diet that is tailored to their specific needs. Older seniors may require more protein to maintain their muscle mass, while younger seniors need to avoid overeating to maintain a healthy weight.

A senior dog on the beach
Senior dog on the beach

It's crucial to be aware of your dog's stage of life when giving them treats. Too many treats can lead to obesity, which can cause several health problems, such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. If your dog has a medical history, it's essential to consult your veterinarian to determine the right dietary approach, including treats. Your vet will advise you on the best type and amount of treats to give your dog based on their health and age.

BUY LOCAL. The ingredients in dog treats are critical. It's essential to choose treats that are made in the United States and avoid those made in China. If you choose to purchase a treat made in China, your dog may be at risk. Chicken jerky treats, chicken tenders, chicken strips, chicken treats, or sweet potato treats may all pose a potential threat. Many of these treats are contaminated with phorate, a highly toxic pesticide. Phorate is an extremely toxic organophosphorus compound and is among the most poisonous chemicals commonly used for pest control. Phorate - and other toxic chemicals found in China-sourced dog treats - can pose a health risk to your dog.

Choosing the right treats for your furry friend is an important part of keeping them healthy and happy. When selecting dog treats, it's essential to consider the ingredients that are used to make them. Ideally, treats should contain natural ingredients that are both safe and beneficial for your dog.

WHAT TO AVOID. Avoid treats that are high in fat and sugar, as these can lead to weight gain and other health problems. Instead, look for treats that are made with whole grains like oats or quality, single-source proteins such as chicken, lamb, or salmon. These types of treats not only provide essential nutrients but are also more filling and satisfying than those made with unhealthy ingredients.

Unfortunately, many commercial dog treats contain unwanted fillers, synthetic coloring, preservatives, and artificial flavoring. These ingredients can be harmful to your dog's health and can cause allergic reactions, digestive issues, and other health problems. To ensure that you're giving your dog the best possible treats, it's important to read the labels carefully and choose treats with fewer ingredients.

A thoughtful dog outside
a thoughtful dog spending time outside

SENSITIVE PUP. If your dog has a sensitive stomach or is prone to allergic reactions, opt for treats that contain a single ingredient, such as chicken or salmon. These treats are less likely to cause adverse reactions, and they're a great option for dogs with dietary restrictions.

MORE TO AVIOD. When shopping for dog treats, be sure to avoid those that contain preservatives such as potassium sorbate, ethoxyquin, BHA, BHT, or calcium propionate. These chemicals can be harmful to your dog's health and may cause health issues over time. Instead, choose brands that use natural preservatives or that are free from preservatives altogether.

Additionally, treats that contain artificial coloring are unnecessary and potentially harmful, so it's best to avoid them. Dogs don't care about the color of their treats, and artificial coloring is added more for the benefit of dog owners than for the dogs themselves.

CHEMICAL HUMECTANTS. There are dog treats that contain chemical humectants like propylene glycol. While these ingredients are used to prevent the treats from drying out and to prevent discoloration in meat, they can also disrupt your dog's digestive system and lead to intestinal lesions and blockages. To avoid these potential health risks, be sure to check the label before purchasing any treats and opt for those that use natural humectants that are not harmful to your pet. By taking these steps, you can ensure that you're giving your dog the healthiest and safest treats possible.

SYNTHETIC CHEMICAL SWEETNERS. Dog treats are an important part of our furry friends' lives, and as a responsible dog owner, it's essential to know what to look for when purchasing them. One crucial consideration is the use of synthetic chemical sweeteners in dog treats. While these sweeteners are often added to enhance the flavor of the treats, they can cause many health problems in dogs, including obesity, tooth decay, nervousness, allergies, arthritis, and digestive issues like stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and bloody stools. Moreover, these sweeteners can make the treats taste sweet to dogs, leading them to reject less sweet but healthier food options over time.

TREAT TEXTURE. When it comes to the texture of dog treats, there are different options available that serve different purposes. Soft dog treats are generally easier and faster for dogs to eat, making them great for training. Additionally, softer treats tend to have a stronger smell, which can make them more appealing to dogs. Soft treats are also better for puppies and senior dogs who may have trouble chewing harder substances. On the other hand, harder and firmer treats can help adult dogs reduce plaque and tartar and maintain oral health. However, it's essential to ensure that the treats aren't too hard, as they can break a dog's tooth. You can perform a thumbnail test to check if the treat is too hard for your dog. If you can stick your thumbnail into the treat without much effort, it's not too hard.

DANGEROUS TREATS. It's also crucial to be aware of the types of dangerous dog treats to avoid. One such type is treats made in China, which have been associated with causing Fanconi Syndrome in dogs, resulting in fatal kidney failure. Although most reputable pet stores no longer carry these treats, they are still available online and in some pet supply stores. The FDA has warned against these treats and conducted inspections in 2021, revealing violations of the FDAs Current Good Manufacturing Practice requirements for animal food, which caused the maker's products to be adulterated. Another type to avoid is rawhide chews, which are by-products of the leather industry. They are cheap and contain very little nutritional value, making them one of the least healthy options for dogs.

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ANIMAL BONE. Dog owners often give their furry friends real animal bones as natural chew toys, believing that they provide benefits like dental hygiene and jaw strength development. However, raw animal bones can be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as listeria, E.coli, and salmonella. To ensure that the bones are safe for dogs, they need to be cooked, which makes them brittle and prone to splintering. Splintered bones can cause injuries to a dog's mouth, while swallowing bone fragments can lead to choking or intestinal damage. Therefore, it's best to avoid giving dogs real animal bones as chew toys.

ANIMAL BY-PRODUCTS. Many dog treats and chews are made from animal by-products such as hooves, antlers, and pig's ears. While dogs love these treats, they can pose a danger to their health. These chews are hard enough to crack or break a dog's teeth, and they can also splinter and cause injuries to their mouth or intestines. Pigs' ears are particularly concerning because they contain high levels of fat, which can lead to obesity, pancreatitis, and diarrhea. It's important to choose safe and healthy chews for dogs, such as specially designed dental chews or natural treats made from high-quality ingredients.

KNOWN CAUSES OF CANCER. Some chemicals used in dog food and treats have been linked to cancer in dogs. For example, Red #40 and Yellow #5 and #6 are food colorings that can cause hypersensitivity and cell damage. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) is another chemical used in dog biscuits and treats that has been linked to tumors in laboratory animals. While it's legal to use BHA in the U.S., it's considered a carcinogenic substance by the National Institute of Health (NIH). To minimize the risk of cancer in dogs, it's best to choose treats and food that are free from harmful chemicals and additives.

A bright image reflecting the position of Run Free K9 that  artificial sweeteners are not for dogs.
Artificial sweeteners are not for dogs.

SWEET TREATS. Many dog treats contain sugar or artificial sweeteners to enhance their taste. However, sugar can cause dental issues, unhealthy weight gain, and serious health problems like diabetes. Artificial sweeteners like sorbitol and xylitol are even more dangerous for dogs. Sorbitol can cause stomach problems, while xylitol is highly toxic and can cause seizures, clotting problems, and even death. To keep dogs safe and healthy, it's important to choose treats that are made from high-quality ingredients and free from unhealthy additives.

HIGH STARCH. Many dog foods and treats contain high levels of starch, which is used as a filler to lower production costs. However, too much starch can lead to digestive issues, weight gain, and other health problems in dogs. Grain-free and gluten-free options have become popular in recent years as a healthier alternative to starch-filled dog food and treats. However, unless a dog has allergies or sensitivities, it's not necessary to switch to grain-free or gluten-free food. Instead, choose high-quality treats that are made from complex carbohydrates or protein-based ingredients.

TOXIC HUMAN FOODS. Some human foods are toxic to dogs, and can cause serious health problems or even death. Chocolate, grapes, and nuts are among the foods that dogs should never eat. Garlic, onions, and chives can also be harmful to dogs, as they can damage their red blood cells and cause anemia. During holidays and other occasions when food spreads are common, it's important to keep dogs away from potentially harmful foods. Instead, offer them safe and healthy treats that are specially made for dogs.

Underneath the chin of a golden retriever, a shocked Huskey is observed during a feeding.
Don't give me grapes!

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