The Case for Natural Dog Treats

Consider choosing natural dog treats as a healthy alternative for your best friend. Every pet store has an entire aisle of dog treats, and given that about half this nation's pets are overweight, I am not sure that's really necessary. Most packages tout various meats: Real bacon flavor! Sizzling steak! Wholesome chicken! Moist liver! See a trend here? Meat. Check the labels to see how much meat the treat actually contains.

Most dog treats are very high in fat, which makes them more palatable to the dog. Fats go rancid very quickly, which is why high-fat products need to be heavily laced with preservatives.

Many items in your refrigerator, carrots, pieces of cheese or meats, are a perfectly good alternative and often more healthful dog treats. If you give lots of treats to your dog, remember to adjust his daily food ration accordingly.

Treats for training should be very small, highly flavored and soft. Cut-up hot dogs make excellent, nutritious and inexpensive training treats.

Since dogs are carnivores, the best treats are meat or meat-based. Despite what the packaging says about all the great meat in commercial dog treats, reading the ingredient list tells quite a different story. Are all dog treats really better than some people food?

Here is the ingredient list from a very popular steak-flavored treat that costs $18 per pound. (Where's the steak? Steak doesn't even cost $18 a pound):
Ground wheat, corn gluten meal, water, wheat flour, ground yellow corn, sugar, glycerin, liver, hydrogenated starch hydrolysate, chicken by-product meal, beef meal, corn starch-modified, soybean meal, salt, pork fat preserved with BHA, natural andartificial flavors, phosphoric acid, dried whey, sorbic acid (a preservative), added color (Red 40 and other color), animal digest, gelatin, calcium propionate (a preservative), hydrolyzed soy proteinisolate, natural steak flavor, BHA (a preservative), citric acid.

Here is the ingredient list for jerky sticks sold for people, costing $13.00 per pound:
Beef, liquid smoke flavor.

And the ingredients for low-fat beef hot dogs, .99 per pound:
Beef, pork, water, corn syrup, modified food starch. Contains less than 2% of the following: potassium lactate, sodium lactate, dextrose, hydrolized soy protein, sodium erythorbate, sugar, sorbitol, extract of paprika.

Make up your own mind, of course, but I certainly know which of these I'd rather not feed on a regular basis.

If you want to give your dog treats (and by the way, dogs don't actually need treats, no matter what they tell you), give them something a bit more healthful than highly processed pieces of fat and grains molded into artificially colored lumps. There are many good dog treats and chews available. Better, and often cheaper, why not give your dog actual meat, fresh or cooked vegetable pieces or cheese? Even Cheerios--which most dogs love--would be a better choice than some of the expensive, preservative-laced things they sell for dogs.

For training classes, hot dogs fill the bill perfectly; they're mostly what I use. Liverwurst, lunch meat and cheddar cheese also work very well.

Don't overindulge your dog, and realize you have many healthy choices when it comes to dog treats!

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