February 23, 2021 7 min read

Many of us dog parents use dog treats as a reward or a way to say "I love you" to our furry friends. However, there are some ingredients that will harm your dog's health. Certain fillers and chemicals used to make the common store-bought treats can cause allergic reactions, weight issues and decreased health. Next time you're shopping for your dog's next batch of training treats, beware of these 10 harmful ingredients in dog treats that will do more harm than good to your pup.

Top 10 Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Treats:

1. BHT and BHA

BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) and BHA  are antioxidants used as preservatives to keep dog food and treats last on your shelf longer. This also lowers the cost. However, that's as far as benefits go with these chemicals.

Adding BHT and BHA harms the quality of your dog's treats as soon as they're added! Both have been linked to hyperactivity and even cancer, and BHA has been identified by the State of California as a possible carcinogen.

Recommended alternatives: If you're looking for a more holistic method to extend the shelf lives of products, this can be done naturally with Vitamin C and rosemary. These come with natural benefits along with natural preservation.

2. Meat meals, grain meals, and animal by-products

Meat meals, grain meals, and animal by-products are all titles put on foods not fit for human consumption. When not even the food producer knows what ingredient is being put into their treats, they label it with "meat meals," "grain meals," and "animal by-products." With these labels, can never know what kind or part of animal is going into your pup's treats- whether it be cow hair or moldy corn.

Recommended alternatives: Choose treats and foods with ingredients that are named, specified, and recognized. You will know exactly what is going into your dog's body- which can make things a lot easier if your dog shows signs of sickness or allergies.

Opting for single-ingredient treats, like our Air-Dried Chicken Jerkies, are also a great way to ensure that your dog treats don't have any strange ingredients.

3. Cellulose (is this also in dog treats)

Cellulose is a stringy white substance composed of plant and wood fibers. These fibers are advertised as a healthy additive- but it's actually quite the opposite. Cellulose is almost entirely indigestible for dogs, and is only used because it's cheap and counts as a "fiber."

Recommended alternatives: By feeding your dog a complete and balanced diet, there is no need for any added fibers or textures. Instead of feeding your dog cellulose and processed fibers, stick to the fibers your dog should already be getting with a balanced diet.

4. Corn

Corn is used oftentimes as a filler for kibbles and dog treats in order to create more food for less of the price. As corn is cheap and easy to come by, it's no wonder why it's used in so many dog foods- but this doesn't make it good. Corn is famously indigestible to dogs and even humans due to its high content of cellulose. Yep, cellulose- the ingredient we already listed as being bad for dogs!

Recommended alternatives: Instead of feeding your dog corn, look for vegetables that have more nutritional value and less carbohydrates, such as green beans or carrots.

5. Corn syrup

We've already seen that corn is bad for dogs, but corn syrup is an entirely different story. Corn syrup is added to treats as a sweetener for your dog.

Naturally, dogs don't need sugary or sweet flavors, which makes corn syrup completely unnecessary for your dog's health. Not only is it pointless, but it also is extremely high in sugar and can cause diabetes and weight gain in your pup.

Recommended alternatives: Avoid any sweeteners in your pup's food and treats. If your pup has a sweet tooth, it may be better to give them natural sugars from fruits and berries in moderation. Watermelon, blueberries, and pumpkin are all naturally sweet fruits that can benefit your dog!

Honey is also great for dogs and puppies if you're looking for something similar to a syrup texture. 

6. Sodium Hexametaphosphate

Sodium hexametaphosphate is used in dental treats and foods as a way to eliminate tartar. What many people don't know, however, is that sodium hexametaphosphate is dangerous in high doses and has been proven to cause skin issues. While it does eliminate tartar, it also harms your pet's health, which is not at all worth the sacrifice.

Recommended alternatives: Instead of relying on dental treats or foods, create a dental routine for your dog. Like humans need to consistently brush their teeth, dogs need teeth cleanings as well!

You can clean your pup's teeth by brushing them yourself, but you can make it a lot more fun for your pup by investing in raw bones. Raw bones naturally clean your dog's teeth while providing mental and physical stimulation, making for a more than adequate toothbrush!

7. Artificial flavorings

Artificial ingredients and chemicals are the last thing you want to see in your dog's treats. Artificial flavorings are oftentimes added to enhance the taste of your pup's treat or make it smell more appetizing, which is completely unnecessary if the original ingredients are tasty. Synthetic flavorings can irritate your pup's stomach and even cause allergic reactions.

Recommended alternatives: Instead of using artificial flavorings, give your dog something that's naturally delicious!

Meats like chicken and beef are a great ingredient for your dog's palette, and you can even feed them fruits and veggies that they enjoy! (Provided that they're doggy-edible, of course!)

8. Artificial colorings

Just like what we said for the last ingredient, anything artificial should be avoided in your pup's treats. Artificial colorings count towards this, being used solely for visual purposes. Besides looking a little prettier, artificial colorings have no purpose in dog treats, and can even be an allergen to some pups.

Recommended alternatives: Don't choose treats with artificial colors! There is no point for a treat to look a little nicer when it'll be in your pup's belly soon enough.

9. White flour

White flour is extremely unnecessary and serves no nutritional benefit to your dog whatsoever. When white flour is added to a treat or kibble, it's usually added as a filler. White flour is also highly processed, being stripped of any nutritional value it once had. White flour has no purpose being in dog food or treats.

Recommended alternatives: Avoid white flour and any grains in your dog's treats. Since they don't add anything to the taste and they lack nutritional benefits, it's best to find a treat that contains meats, fruits, and vegetables.

10. "Feed-grade" ingredients

"Feed-grade" is a way for companies to say that their treats are inedible by humans, but edible for animals. For this reason, there are much less restrictions on what can be allowed in feed-grade dog food. A treat company can add diseased, infected, or expired animal meat and plants into feed-grade food, which is why it's best to be avoided.

Recommended alternatives: Find a treat that directly states which ingredients are in the treats, as to avoid any suspicious parts of an animal or plant. For example, look for the words "chicken" or "beef" in the ingredients so you know exactly what is in your pup's treats.

Bad Ingredients in Dog Food

All of these ingredients can be found in dry dog food, too! This is why kibble is the last thing you should feed your pup, containing tons of fillers, preservative, chemicals, and artificial flavorings. For this reason, switching to raw food is the best choice you can make for your pup.

A BARF diet is made of bones, raw meat, and vegetables. Dogs are naturally omnivores, requiring fresh meat and bones just as much as they need fruits and veggies. Feeding a raw diet includes other benefits as well, such as:

  • Smaller Stool & Better Digestion
  • Skin & Coat Improvement
  • Improved Oral Health
  • Increased Energy
  • Less Inflammation & Improved Health
  • Weight Management
  • Fewer Vet Visits

...and much more! To avoid the ingredients mentioned earlier in the blog, you should feed your pup primarily fresh foods.

What to Look For in Dog Treats

Now that we know what ingredients we should avoid, let's take a look at what healthy dog treats should look like! These treats will not only taste delicious, but they'll provide your dog with some extra benefits too:

Single-Ingredient Treats and Chews

Feeding your pup single-ingredient treats is a great way to prevent toxins and harmful ingredients from entering your dog's body. When a bag of treats has a long list of ingredients, you can assume that some of what your dog is eating is unnecessary. By feeding your pup single-ingredient treats, you allow them to eat something nutritious and free of fillers.

Human-grade Ingredients

Since we've discussed the harmfulness of feed-grade ingredients for pups, we have to tell you about the wonders of human-grade! Human-grade ingredients are ingredients that are approved for human consumption, meaning that not nearly as many harmful ingredients can be included.

Whole or Natural Ingredients

Whole and natural ingredients are essential for your dog's overall health and wellbeing. If your dog eats primarily processed and synthetic foods, they won't be able to reach their optimal health. Natural ingredients are what dogs have always needed to eat, and they will ensure that your dog is a healthy and happy pup!

Where Can I Find Treats Like These?

Every product at Crafted Dog Treats is natural, whole, and human-grade. Our team aims to feed only the best, so we only sell the best. Crafted Dog Treats are great for training your puppy or rewarding your dog for being a good dog.

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