Safety of Dog Food Treats
Dogs love treats. Some can be harmful to their health or even deadly. Here are some tips on how to select those that are the safest for our beloved pets.
Look for the VOHC seal
The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is an independent veterinary dental group that tests claims producers make about their dental preventative products. After review, if a product is proven to help slow plaque and calculus formation, it’s given the VOHC seal. Although there are oral health products for dogs that don’t have the seal it can be reassuring to know that that product you have chose has it.
Rawhides can be a potentially dangerous treat. Some rawhides are made with chemicals that cause cancer. Therefore make sure you buy ones made in the USA and are UNBLEACHED. Rawhides that originate outside of the United States may be preserved with arsenic-based chemicals that can be ingested by your pet. Use caution when shopping for rawhide chews and make certain any rawhide you purchase has been processed in the United States where this preservative is prohibited. Always look at the ingredients when you purchase dog bones to be sure they are chemical-free.
Good quality rawhide should only get gooey and gum up when chewed, rather than chip off. If they chip, the chips can get lodged in the little dip in a dog’s esophagus and they can choke on that. In addition, as many as 40% of all dogs are allergic to cow skin rawhide chews.
If you do decide to give your dog a rawhide, you want to make sure the rawhides you purchase are the appropriate size for your pet. A smaller breed dog requires a smaller sized treat and a larger breed dog should start with a chew appropriate for its size, too.
If you want to give your dog rawhide, purchase compressed rawhide. Compressed rawhide is better than regular rawhide because it is made from layers of beefhide and formed under extreme pressure. This creates a very dense dog bone.
Supervise your pet while he is consuming rawhides to help prevent accidental choking.
Never give your dog leftover chicken bones. They can become lodged in the esophagus and hinder breathing functions.
Bones are easily broken and splinter easily, hence do not disintegrate well in a dog’s digestive track. This means your pet may have to pass them through his stool. Undigested bones can lead to a serious impaction and/or constipation requiring a trip to the veterinarian. Bones can also be a choking hazard and can cause possible intestinal bleeding. If a bone splinter breaks off; it can pierce the intestinal wall and pass through the abdominal cavity causing hemorrhaging of the intestinal wall and an infection of the lining of the abdominal cavity.
Bully sticks / Pizzle Sticks
Bully Sticks are 100% bull penises. Not a tendon and not processed meat strips, bully sticks are dried, lightly smoked or natural flavor. Try to buy those that aren’t smoked.
Greenies are advertised as a chew treat to help keep your dog’s teeth clean. You need to be aware that “greenies” can cause serious health issues in your pet. At the 2005 AmericanCollege of Veterinary Internal Medicine meeting, there was discussion among internal medicine specialists about Greenies causing esophageal obstructions that were difficult to fix. Complications reported include small intestinal obstructions; stricture, ulceration and puncture. Greenies are also associated with tooth fractures in dogs. Young puppies or dogs that quickly eat their food should not be given this treat since consuming the item quickly may cause large chunks to lodge in the throat.
Pig and Cow ears
When giving pig or cow ears it’s best to give natural or basted – NOT SMOKED. That puts a cancer causing coating on it. Unbleached/natural lambs ears are a better choice.
Pig ears may contain salmonella which can be harmful to you, the pet owner. So, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly if you are handling pig ears.
Never give cow hooves! They splinter and sharp pieces have killed many dogs.
They are so hard they can actually break a dog’s teeth. My dog got a slab fracture on a molar and had to have the tooth removed. And there have been recalls of some cow hooves for potential salmonella contamination.
There are lots of healthy and delicious dog pet store treats readily available for pet owners.
Natural or basted pig ears and American made bully sticks are good choices.
Cornstarch bones are made from cornstarch and are safe for your dog to eat, provided that he or she does not have food allergies.
Better than Ears are imitation pig ears that are low-fat and highly digestible. They are made from healthy products such as soy flour and wheat bran.
Nylabones are made from nylon and get chewed into tiny pieces. When the Nylabone is chewed into a stump, throw it away and buy a new one to prevent choking hazard. Kong Toys are a good choice. There is the Kong Goodie Ship and other Stuffable Hard Rubber Toys. Fill them with frozen meat, cheese, and peanut butter for a long lasting SAFE TREAT!
There are other safe alternatives to pet store treats like apples, canned pumpkin, cooked green beans or peas, a bite of rice cake, cooked egg white and plain popcorn. Dogs love frozen carrots. Scrub and peel a carrot, then freeze. These naturally clean teeth.
If you are so inclined, you can bake your own healthy dog cookies. There are many recipes on the internet.
For those of you in the Seattle area who are looking to board your dog or even give him a well-deserved doggy daycare rest, I recommend visiting www.barkinglounge.com for all your dog training, boarding and grooming needs.