TRICK or TREAT??? It's that time of year again. And now, even pet retailers are getting into the act by offering costumes and Halloween dog treats in every shape and size. But it's not just because it's almost Halloween.
Take your dog for a walk around my neighborhood on any given day and they will be offered a plethora of Pup-peroni, Milk Bones, and Beggin'Strips before you even reach the corner. Many local shops also have water bowls and treat dishes filled with doggie delectables right at the entrance door. Of course any pet shop is certain to have goodies at all the check-out stations. Basically everyday is a "trick-or-treat" opportunity for canines.
We all love rewarding our dogs and giving them goodies. Nothing makes me happier than seeing the joy dogs get devouring treats. Let's face it, isn't my charming personality that's winning over the hearts of most dogs I meet, it's THE TREATS! But it's very important to apply the same principles of healthy ingredients when selecting them. ☠️There are also some very popular treats you should avoid at all costs.☠️
My first Pug, Raisin knew exactly where to walk in our neighborhood to get the goods and would drag me on his preferred route. As Raisin aged I began to notice a direct correlation between the treats and the tummy issues. I learned many expensive lessons so hopefully I can save you some similar pitfalls. Here are a few startling facts as well as some nutritious alternates to keep your pet happy healthy and "well-treated!"
When it comes to pet treats use extreme caution!☠️ It's not just your pooches waistline that can suffer. I was given the Halloween scare of a lifetime when I began researching this blog and learning about all the toxic chemicals being used in many popular pet treats. I was completely unaware of the high numbers of recalls and tragedies that have resulted from so many popular pet treats. Most alarming is that these products continue to be sold today in most popular pet stores*.
SIZE MATTERS: Treats should be tiny (yes, tiny) morsels of food you use to reward your pet for training and reinforcement of positive behavior. But remember, even tiny amounts of treats can add up over time. Dog's can quickly start packing on pounds or stop eating their more nutritious meals. And much worse is the fact some of the most popular treats contain preservatives, flavor enhancers, colorings and even toxic ingredients*. These can make a pet, especially one with a compromised immune system, deathly ill.
For starters, many popular pet treats are not bite-sized morsels, but biscuits as big as SmartCars. Not only are they too large for most dogs, they contain harmful ingredients like those highlighted in red. Here's a list of a few "No-No" ingredients found in many popular varieties of treats currently sold in most grocery and pet stores. I personally would stay away from any treat containing these ingredients but most certainly those highlighted:
BUYER BEWARE! Some of the worst, deadliest treats can also be the most deceiving. Such as the case with RAW-HIDE. You can't go into a big-box pet store or even a pet section in a large retailer without seeing numerous raw-hide products. Bones in every shape, size and color are front and center. Like me, most pet parents ASSUME if it's sold at Target or Petco it must be safe! That couldn't be further from the truth. Rawhide is extremely dangerous and in my opinion should be pulled from the shelves of every pet store. Just watch the short video below by Rodney Habib to see the truth.
Such as the case with those packaged jerky or meat/fish-based dog treats. These are some of the most popular treats but many people don't know, that misleading bag that reads: all natural made-in-the-USA also had toxic additives from China that killed thousands of dogs. Rumor has it the problem was identified and sourcing was changed but I personally stay away from all treats except the ones I make or are on my list. can be flawed. While the ingredient list on these might look like this:
If you've just realized you're feeding your dog toxic treats or they are not up to par, don't panic or feel guilty. There are lots of healthy options your dog will love! Dr. Laura Becker, the world's most popular integrated vet, makes AMAZING treats and supplements. When I attended SuperZoo, I had the pleasure of meeting her and her lovely mother and niece Blair who run Dr. Becker Bites ( http://drbeckersbites.com/) I couldn't have met kinder, more wonderful people. I stuffed my convention tote with as many samples as I could get away with without being too conspicuous and Olive literally DANCED every time those goodies came out.
Just Food For Dogs also makes a variety of amazing healthy treats. They have stores in Southern California or you can purchase on-line: https://www.justfoodfordogs.com.
If you want some healthy options you can grab at the pet store, I am thrilled to announce Nulo (nulo.com) has just introduced amazing healthy line of treats. They offer bite-sized training bites and jerky. All treats with the same thoughtful consideration that goes into their food: Low carb, high human-grade animal/fish/poultry protein/ no corn, wheat, soy, molasses and amazing patented probiotics. Grab some next time you're in pet smart or your independent pet retailer.
Many pet retailer offer organic, human-grade pet treats that are wonderful healthy options but they are often disguises in big box retailers.
Now when I'm out and about when kind strangers want to offer my pets a treat, I give them my own to feed them.If I don't have treats, i keep a small bag of a high-end kibble in my pocket everywhere I go. If I'm in a pinch, Cheerios are a far better alternative to toxic treats. Small, gluten free, low sugar morsels. Right now they have pumpkin flavored onesThat way dogs aren't getting sick and everyone is happy. Plus it's often a great an opportunity to meet new friends and tell them about wonderful healthy treats options they can look into.
When I'm at home with Olive I use blueberries, apple slices, carrots and broccoli as tiny treats but Olive is a Pug and a dog with a pickier pallet may not go for those options. I recommend r if Youre cooking and have any meat trimming or organs organ trimmings, cut them up in small bites and freeze them for treats or toppers.
Lastly, for those of you in the mood, here are some treat options you can make yourself. These treats are easy, healthy and will work for even a very sensitive dog. They are also far less expensive than what is available in stores! So toss out those toxic Milk Bones and give a few of these options a try! 🎃
🎃Crunchy Pumpkin Biscuit🎃.
Makes 75 small biscuits/50 medium
preheat oven to 350 degrees
1/2 cup organic canned pumpkin
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 1/2 cups organic brown rice flour/coconut flour
1 tsp ground parsley (optional)
2 tablespoons dried milk
*unsalted organic creamy peanut butter/coconut oil/dried cranberries for decor if desired
Combine eggs and pumpkin until smooth. Add salt, parsley, milk and slowly add in flour. Roll mixture out using additional flour if needed for sticking. When dough is 1/4 - 1/2" thickness, use small or medium cookie cutters to make biscuits. Place on cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn biscuits over and bake for another 20 minutes. Drizzle or dip warm biscuits in organic, unsalted creamy peanut butter or coconut oil that has been melted in a microwave for 30 sec. Add dried cranberries for decor. Place on wax paper until cooled and dipping sauce has hardened.
1 can Organic Pumpkin
1 cup organic, plain Greek yogurt/plain Kefir
1/2 cup organic, creamy, unsalted unsweetened peanut butter
unsweetened organic coconut flakes/dried cranberries if desired.
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Pour into ice cube tray. You can add coconut flakes, dried cranberries, if you wish. Freeze for 12 hours and add to meals or as a cool treat.
It's been awhile since my last update on the toxic jerky treats imported from China, that, since 2007 have made thousands of dogs ill and resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 furry family members.
According to a Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) news release in June 2016:
“Dogs are still becoming ill after eating jerky-type treats, although illness reports have declined.”1
Dogs are STILL becoming ill! If like me, you’ve been following this debacle for the last nine years, I’m sure you’re just as angry and frustrated as I am.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published an update on its ongoing (essentially useless) investigation into the issue.
Since the FDA began its search for answers in 2007, as of the end of 2015, the agency had received over 5,000 complaints of illness caused by chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats made with ingredients imported from China. Those complaints involved over 6,200 dogs, 26 cats and three people (including two toddlers). Tragically, over 1,100 of the 6,200 dogs ultimately died after eating the tainted treats.
The FDA’s investigation into suspect treat samples uncovered the existence of illegal residues from several antibiotics that aren’t approved for use in poultry in the U.S. These include sulfaclozine, tilmicosin, trimethoprim and enrofloxacin, plus the approved-for-use drug sulfaquinoxaline.
The investigation also found illegal residues of the anti-viral drugs amantadine, rimantadine and memantine, which are approved for use in chickens, ducks and turkeys.
To clarify — even though some of the drugs the FDA discovered are approved for use in poultry in this country, the residues from those drugs should not be detectable in food products made from poultry. That’s why the residues are described as “illegal.”
Predictably, neither the FDA nor treat manufacturers believe the illegal drug residues were what caused sickness and death in so many pets.
As Usual, No Treat Brands Are Listed
The FDA offers the usual vague advice to pet parents in its most recent update:
“The agency continues to caution pet owners that jerky pet treats are not required for a balanced diet, and encourage them to consult with their veterinarians if they notice symptoms in their pets, such as decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes with blood or mucus), increased water consumption and/or increased urination.
The majority of complaints involve chicken jerky (treats, tenders and strips), but others include duck, sweet potato and treats where chicken or duck jerky is wrapped around dried fruits, sweet potatoes, yams or rawhide.”2
To no one’s surprise, in their most recent updates, neither the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) nor the FDA lists the specific treats that continue to make dogs ill.
However, back in 2012 a major media outlet was able to obtain internal FDA documents through a public records request that named names, including Waggin’ Train and Canyon Creek Ranch jerky treats (made by Nestle Purina), and Milo’s Kitchen Home-Style Dog Treats (made by Del Monte, renamed Big Heart).3
Once the names were made public, followed by detection of the illegal drug residues, Nestle Purina and Del Monte did a voluntary recall of jerky treats in early 2013. However, a year later they were back on store shelves. Per NBC News in January 2014:
"Two of the top-selling brands of jerky treats for pets will soon return to U.S. store shelves, a year after a nationwide recall and with government experts no closer to solving the mystery that has linked the products to hundreds of animal deaths and thousands of illnesses."4
Nestle Purina put their (still-made-in-China) Waggin' Train treats back on store shelves in February 2014, and Del Monte returned their treats to the market the following month.
Del Monte claims its Milo's Kitchen Chicken Jerky Strips and Chicken Grillers Recipe treats are made from "U.S.-sourced meat," and Nestle has announced that in addition to their China-supplied treats, they will also introduce "new products sourced entirely in the U.S."
Worried pet owners, animal advocates and veterinarians weren’t happy about seeing the treats back on store shelves, since there's really no information about what changes, if any, the pet treat producers made to their products.Nine years and counting is far too long for a situation like this to drag on. Thousands of pets and their heartbroken families have paid a heavy price, and it is incredibly frustrating to know that dogs are still becoming ill from tainted treats.
It may or may not be these particular treats that continue to cause dogs to get sick, but I’d certainly never recommend or offer them to my own pets.
Homemade Chicken Jerky Recipe
For more information, watch this short, entertaining video by Planet Paws blogger Rodney Habib:
*(In researching this blog, the pet food manufacturers make the argument that these chemicals are used in very trace amounts and not enough to be worried about. Well after millions of recalls and pet deaths I'm not taking any chances or trusting their word.)