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, and 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 number 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, bite-sized 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, artificial colors 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 dainty 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 in BOLD:
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 about how this product is made and all the hazards associated with it.
The same holds true for many of those packaged chicken/meat/fish JERKY treats. These are some of the most popular treats around. But what many people don't know is that the misleading bag that reads: "All Natural / Made-in-the-USA" may contain toxic additives from China. These products have killed or made thousands of dogs deathly ill. Rumor has it the problem was identified and sourcing was changed but with no real regulation on pet treats, it's impossible to know the truth. I personally stay away from all treats except the ones I make or treats from trusted sources.
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. Karen Becker, the world's most popular integrated vet, offers an AMAZING line of nutritious, delicious treats and supplements: Dr. Becker Bites. When I attended SuperZoo, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Becker, her niece Blair and her lovely mother, Jeannine 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 before I looked too conspicuous. Olive literally DANCES and shakes with excitement every time she sees those goodies come out.
Just Food For Dogs also makes a variety of fabulous, human-grade, 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 PetSmart, I am thrilled to announce Nulo (http://nulo.com/) has just introduced a new line of popular treats. They offer bite-sized training bites and a variety of jerky. All treats are made with the same thoughtful consideration that goes into their food: Low carb, high human-grade animal/fish/poultry protein/ no corn, wheat, soy, or molasses and amazing patented BC30 probiotics. Grab some next time you're in PetSmart or your independent pet retailer.
Many independent pet retailers offer smaller lines of organic, human-grade pet treats that are wonderful options but they are often harder to find in popular big box stores or supermarkets.
Now when I'm out and about and kind strangers want to offer my dogs a treat, I explain they have tummy issues and give them my own goodies to offer. I always carry a small sample bag of a high-end kibble in my pocket. 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 ones. Now you have some inexpensive, simple options that won’t make any dogs sick. Plus having some nutritious treats with you can be a great way to meet new friends.
When I'm at home with Olive I use blueberries, apple slices, carrots and broccoli as tiny treats. But again, Olive is a Pug who will devour anything she can wrap her jaws around. A dog with a pickier pallet may not go for those options. I recommend if you're cooking and have any meat trimmings or organs, you cut them up in small bites and freeze them to use as healthy 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's available in stores! So toss out those toxic Milk Bones, raw hide and chicken jerky treats and give a few of these options a try! 🎃
🎃Crunchy Pumpkin Biscuits🎃.
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 can also be used)
1 tsp ground parsley (optional)
2 tablespoons dried milk
2 eggs (grind up the egg shells finely in a coffee grinder for extra nutrients)
*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 30 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 or 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 and/or dried cranberries, if you wish. Another option is top with crumbled kibble. Freeze for 3 hours and add to meals or as a cool treat.
For more information on toxic treats watch this short, entertaining videos 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.)