What is a good gift?
Treats are those special treats that we give ourselves when we feel we deserve it, and treats are what we give to our dogs, when they behave appropriately.
We generally prefer our treats to be something delicious and sweet, while our dogs will eat anything sweet, fat, meaty, or any and all of the above.
A treat for dogs should be something special and if you have one of those rare discriminating dogs, a treat has to be a cut above their usual food.
What included a “good gift” versus a “not so good gift”? Many commercial treats are not very good for our dogs. Many are made with inferior ingredients and with some preservatives and artificial colors that can cause cancer.
Too many treats contain a lot of sugar, and when given too often, they can lead to diabetic disease. Treats made with a large amount of fat can lead to pancreatic disease. Too many treats, good or bad, can change a dog’s eating habits by creating a craving for a certain flavor and thereby destroying healthy eating habits and a taste for nutritionally balanced foods.
There is also the possibility that some treats contain things your dog is allergic to and prolonged use can cause medical problems, not to mention that too many treats can lead to obesity and its share of problems.
So what should a pet owner do? Number one read the labels. Buy treats that contain only healthy ingredients, look for whole grains and / or fresh meat, and treats made with vegetables and fruits. Stay away from added sugar, corn syrup products, food coloring additives, most preservatives, and treats that may contain animal by-products (whatever they are). Organic treats are the best.
When reading labels, what criteria should you follow? Here are some things to keep in mind and it will only take you a few minutes to take a look at the ingredient list on the label.
The first trick is to understand the labels as much as possible and deflect it.
The first ingredients are the most important since they make up the base of the candy. If the treat is a “meat treat,” then the label should have the meat first, such as lamb, beef, or chicken.
Then the grains should do the same, like brown rice, oatmeal, or wheat. If you see ground wheat, corn gluten meal, or ground yellow corn meal, these are inexpensive fillers and contain very little protein.
Look for natural sweeteners like cane molasses, honey, applesauce, and if a treat needs to stay moist, a plant glycerin source like guar gum is usually noted. If possible, listed sweeteners such as sucrose, corn syrup, or ammonia glycyrrhizin should be avoided.
Vegetables and / or fruits should be taken into account, if natural flavors are used they should also be taken into account as a natural smoked flavor. Many brands will list things like bacon fat as a flavoring, if there is bacon in the product it is more than likely that it has been treated with sodium nitrate (not a good preservative).
Noteworthy are natural preservatives such as sorbic acid or mixed tocopheris. If you see preservatives like BHA and sodium nitrate, these are two of the worst artificial additives you can find. Many treats contain natural preservatives and must have an expiration date on the package.
Colors such as “red color 40”, which is the worst of the colors added to pet food, should be avoided, followed by yellow 5, yellow 6, and blue 1.
Any label that mentions the word “meat” without naming the meat and if the word is very low on the ingredient list, you may wonder what it is and not buy it as it is suspicious.
Reading labels is easy once you look at what ingredients to look for, and remember that the higher on the list the better ingredients are, the better, and be careful with BHA and sodium nitrates as preservatives.
Another thing to consider is the country of origin; not all countries have the same regulations as the United States. This can be another comprehensive article, such as the conversation about “human grade” products used in pet food versus food grade or food grade, along with USDA approved and inspected facilities.
The world of pet food manufacturing is very interesting and complex, I, as a mere mortal, can only touch a few things related to what we feed our pets. All we can do is do our best, read the labels, and realize that most of the time you get what you pay for. Buy the best quality dog food you can.
Feed your dog treats as a reward for good behavior and for doing his tricks, do not give treats as a substitute for a normal meal. Let a gift be something