We all like to spoil our fur babies. Treats provide a tasty way to show our dogs how much they are loved. And we get endless joy out of watching them perform for their treats. But we may be killing our beloved pets with kindness.
1. Contaminated Dog Treats
Since 2007 the FDA has been investigating the increase in illness and death in dogs and cats related to jerky pet treats. To date illness in 5,600 dogs and 24 cats have been associated with eating the treats that were made in China. 1,000 dogs have reportedly died as a result of their illness. 60% of the pets suffered gastrointestinal and liver problems and 30% had kidney and urinary problems. Another 10% had neurological problems like seizures and tremors or skin problems like hives and rashes.
The FDA has been unable to identify the toxin or toxins causing the problems. Without proof of cause, the jerky treats from Chinese sources are again for sale in the US.
2. Dog Treats Have Too Many Calories
Treat makers are not required to disclose the calorie content on the label. Often it is not even available on their websites. But don’t let their small size deceive you. Most treats are loaded with calories, especially dental treats. Feeding these high calorie treats is a major reason why 60% of pets are overweight.
One brand of chew treats offered by a leading dog food company has treats that vary from 277calories for small dog treats to700 calories for larger dog treats. Each treat is over half or equal to the dogs total daily calorie requirement!
Another company has a dental dog treat that contains 1050 calories for dogs weighing over 55 pounds. A 55 pound dog only needs about 1050 calories for the whole day. Combined with a regular diet this is twice the necessary calories per day. And who stops at one treat? No wonder there is a pet obesity problem.
3. Dog Treats May Cause Malnutrition
Treats are not balanced nutrition. Some dogs that are fed excessive amounts of treats will eat less of their regular diet. It is their way of “counting their calories.” Unfortunately, if they don’t eat their required daily dog food, they will not consume necessary amounts of essential amino acids and fats, vitamins or minerals. Long term, this can lead to nutrient deficiencies that could be harmful to your dog’s health. This may be a major underdiagnosed cause for unexplained illness in middle and older aged dogs.
4. Dog Treats are Expensive
Compared on a weight basis, treats are much more expensive than pet food. A tiny bag of treats can cost as much as small bag of dry kibble and won’t last nearly as long. Why increase your pet food budget with something that can harm your pet?
So what’s the answer? Set aside some of your dog’s daily kibble just for treats. That way you are showing your love and not adding a single calorie to the diet. If you keep fruits and vegetables around the house, raw veggies are virtually calorie free. Cooked vegetables, air popped popcorn and fresh fruit add minimal calories.
An entire can of cooked green beans has only 50 calories and a full cup of popcorn contains only 30 calories. Both are enough treats for many days. An ounce of fruits or melons has only 10-15 calories and is enough for several days.
Dr. Ken Tudor,
THE DOG DIETITIAN