Treats. The mere mention of the word drives most dogs crazy. They’ll do just about anything for a treat, which is one reason why they make such great training rewards.
Close to your dog’s heart, treats also convey important messages. They communicate a job well done to your canine companion as well as your love and affection.
Is the treat you’re feeding your pet worthy of the message it’s communicating?
There's no shortage of commercial pet treats on the market today, it’s one of the fastest growing segments of the pet food industry. They come in every conceivable shape, size, smell, flavor, color and texture.
Not only do you want a treat that your dog enjoys, you also want your dog’s treats to be safe, high-quality and species-appropriate. In a sea of products claiming to be "all-natural" and "made in the U.S.A." that hunt can be quite a challenge.
Most dog treats simply don’t fit the bill, in terms of quality or species appropriateness. They may contain unhealthy ingredients, or they have too many calories coming from carbs (aka sugar) or low-quality, “feed grade” protein.
Many pet owners fail to consider how treats can contribute to unwelcome weight gain and metabolic stress– and that can be a problem considering how the majority of pets today are overweight and suffering from chronic “lifestyle” (i.e. diet) related diseases.
Treats can be a healthy part of your dog’s diet if the type and portion size are appropriate.
Because treats contribute about 10% to a dog’s daily calories, ingredients especially matter. An astonishing 90% of treats contain ingredients other than meat, the mainstay of a biologically-appropriate diet. And the vast majority of meat-based treats on the market come from meat rejected by USDA meat inspectors for humans.
When meat doesn’t meet human quality standards it’s rejected for human consumption and deemed “feed grade,” or intended for consumption only by animals. This slaughterhouse rejected pieces and parts supply the pet food and treat trade with their raw materials, unless you specifically see products labeled otherwise. This also accounts for the significant price difference between feeding “human grade” treats and the average pet treat made with “feed grade” ingredients.
Don’t Be Misled When Shopping for Treats
Just like you strive to choose the best quality, most species-appropriate food to feed your dog at mealtime, the same holds true for treats.
Dogs don’t have a requirement for carbs (corn, wheat, rice, tapioca, “ancient grains,” etc), but they do have a large requirement for protein, specifically amino acids coming from meat. Dogs have a relatively short, simple gastrointestinal tract that requires pre-formed amino acids, such as those that come from pure meat.
Dogs require 22 amino acids to support their metabolic and energy requirements. However, they can only synthesize 12 of those internally. The remaining amino acids are considered “essential” because, unlike herbivores that can make them, dogs must obtain them from their diet.
That’s why I believe starchy carbohydrates and excessive plant protein sources, like legumes and “ancient grains”, don’t belong in a dog’s diet. And that includes treats.
The ancestral diet of dogs and cats contained less than 10% carbs (or sugar), but the average bag of pet food contains at least 30% carbs, with many pushing 50%, meaning our pets live in a constant state of metabolic stress from excessive sugar coming from unnecessary ingredients in their food.
Adding more sugar, in the form of carbs in treats, only adds fuel to the metabolic fire. We’re seeing an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, cancer, allergies and GI issues partially triggered by our pet’s diet; a toxic blend of contaminated, poor quality ingredients and biologically inappropriate foods that create disease and degeneration over time.
What to Look for When Buying Dog Treats
When shopping for treats for your dog, I recommend keeping these points in mind. Look for treats that meet these criteria:
- Made in America with ingredients sourced either in the U.S. or a country you can trust
- Made with human grade ingredients
- Free of unnecessary and high-glycemic (starchy) carbs, including ancient grains, corn, oatmeal, tapioca, white or sweet potatoes, rice, meals and flours
- Free of “hidden” ingredients like molasses and honey, added flavors, colors or dyes, preservatives, emulsifiers, glyphosate and genetically engineered (GMO) ingredients
- They’re the right size and thickness for your pet to safely consume.
To summarize, a high-quality pet treat should be biologically appropriate, composed of human grade, quality meat. Pet treats should not contain grains, starch or unnecessary fillers, added sugar (including molasses and honey), dyes or artificial preservatives.
And they won’t contain rendered animal by-products (added as a “meal”) or mystery meats or contaminated cereals from unknown sources. If the treats don’t specifically tout using human grade ingredients, they’re “feed grade,” or made with rejected ingredients you should be hesitant to feed to your family members.
Now that you know what to look for in a healthy treat, let’s take a look at what dog owners are actually buying…
Exposing 3 of the Top-Selling Dog Treats
Looking at three of the top-selling dog treats sold online, here are the main ingredients by weight in each product:
|Dog Treat #1
||Ground Whole Wheat, Wheat Flour, Meat and Bone Meal, Milk, Beef Fat (preserved with BHA/BHT), Salt, Natural Flavor, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Malted Barley Flour, Brewers Dried Yeast, Sodium Metabisulfite (preservative) (+17 more ingredients of lessor weight)
|Dog Treat #2
||Rawhide, Chicken, Pork Hide, Duck, Wheat Flour, Glycerin, Chicken Liver, Garlic Powder, FD & C Yellow #6, FD & C Blue #1, FD & C Red #40
|Dog Treat #3
||Pork, Barley, Rice, Ground Wheat, Oat Meal, Soybean Meal, Glycerin, Sugar, Corn Gluten Meal, Ground Yellow Corn, Wheat Flour, Water, Soy Flour, Bacon, Soy Protein Concentrate, Wheat Gluten (+nine more ingredients of lessor weight)
As you’ve probably already noticed, there are several issues with these three popular treats. I wouldn’t recommend feeding any of them to your dog for the following reasons:
- All three treats contain starchy carbohydrates, which offer little in nutritional value to your dog, and can create metabolic stress leading to lifestyle-related diseases over time.
- None of the protein sources come from USDA-inspected (and passed) ingredients. All of these treats are made from ingredients rejected for human consumption. They were rejected for a reason, usually due to contamination or poor quality.
- The country of origin is not disclosed for any of the meat sources, so it is very likely they are being imported, possibly from China or other countries lacking sufficient quality control standards.
- None of the ingredients are organic, so you can safely assume the oatmeal, soybean meal, corn gluten meal, ground yellow corn, soy flour and soy protein concentrate are all genetically engineered (GMO).
- While the non-organic ground whole wheat, wheat flour and ground wheat aren’t GMO, they most likely have been treated with glyphosate or other herbicide, a potentially gut-disrupting and carcinogen chemical.
- Some of the ingredients are considered a potential health hazard for your dog, including the artificial dyes, chemical preservatives and nitrite-containing bacon.
The truth is, most treats are full of grains and fillers with only a fraction of the ingredients being real meat, and terrible quality USDA-rejected meat, at that. Some treats don't contain any meat at all, but are instead sprayed with a thin coating of meat flavoring to trick your dog (and you) into thinking they're getting a meaty treat.
“Made in the U.S.A.” – Is It Really?
There are some pet food manufacturers out there making the "made in the U.S.A." claim, when really the only process taking place in the United States is the assembly. This means most, if not all, of the ingredients are imported from other countries. I’ve seen companies make this false claim to gain customer trust, not only is it disheartening, but it’s also illegal.
So when you're shopping for safe treats, it's not enough that a product claims to be made in the U.S. You need to be sure all the ingredients were sourced here as well – or from a country that you can trust.
Over the past two decades, there have been thousands of cases of dogs being sickened – and even dying – from ingredients or treats coming from China.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there have been more than 6,200 cases of jerky treat-related canine illness since 2007. Over an eight-year period, in excess of 1,140 dogs have died after eating jerky pet treats.
In just three years, the FDA reported it had received over 5,000 claims between December of 2015 and August of 2018 of "illnesses associated with consumption of chicken, duck or sweet potato jerky treats.”
And it’s not just jerky treats…
Investigators found residues of several illegal antibiotics in dog treats that are not approved for use in poultry in the U.S. These include sulfaclozine, tilmicosin, trimethoprim and enrofloxacin, plus the approved-for-use drug sulfaquinoxaline.
They also found illegal residues of the anti-viral drugs amantadine, rimantadine and memantine. While these drugs are approved for use in chickens, ducks and turkeys in this country, the residues should not be detectable in food products made from them.
That’s what makes the residues “illegal.”
Sweet potato and pork dog treats made in China have also been called out for being potentially unsafe. Phorate, a highly toxic pesticide, was found in a sweet potato treat made by a company in China after tests revealed kidney and other health issues in dogs consuming the treats.
Any treat or treat ingredient made in unregulated foreign countries can put your dog at risk. Imported chicken jerky treats, chicken tenders, chicken strips, chicken treats or sweet potato treats all pose a potential threat. Plus, any treat that contains chicken, pork or sweet potato from an unnamed source could be a risk as well.
To be safe, I recommend only buying treats made with human-grade ingredients that are sourced from and made in the U.S. or a country you can trust. While choosing human grade pet treats made in this country won't remove all the risks of receiving a tainted product, it will certainly improve your chances of keeping your pet safe.
Treat Your Dog to Healthy, Free‐Range, Nutrient–Dense Meat
Instead of a mixture of undesirable ingredients like the popular treats above, our Beef & Bison Bites contain only the best in real meat – organ meats from U.S. free-range, grass–fed beef and bison.
Organ meats are unique as they are rich natural sources of vital nutrients that help your pet thrive. Plus, they are about as high quality a protein as you’ll ever find.
Our Beef & Bison Bites:
- Are made with free-range, grass-fed beef and bison liver.
- Contain only high-quality meats intended for human consumption (no ingredients from China or anywhere else).
- Are free of rendered by-products or unidentified meats of any kind, including meat meals, meat flavoring or sprays.
- Are handcrafted in the U.S. from all U.S.-sourced ingredients.
- Are free of grains, soy, fillers, artificial preservatives or GMOs.
Beef & Bison Bites are not only a key part of your dog’s ancestral diet, they are the perfect treat for her body.
So I ask you… why feed your dog ingredients that do little or nothing to enhance her well-being (and actually create metabolic stress) when there’s a much better option?
100% Pure Grass-Fed Beef Liver – With a Healthy Addition of Antioxidant-Rich Fruit
Want an extra burst of antioxidants to help support your dog’s vibrant health?
Our Liver & Berry Bites provide the vital, top-quality protein dogs require, along with beneficial antioxidants from organic berries and pomegranate.
Liver & Berry Bites are an ideal treat for your dog because they:
- Are an excellent source of protein – made with liver from U.S. raised, grass–fed, free-range Angus cattle.
- Include whole food sources of organic pomegranate, blueberries and raspberries – some of nature’s most potent antioxidants.
- Contain only high-quality meats intended for human consumption (no ingredients from China or anywhere else).
- Include no rendered by-products or unidentified meats of any kind, including meat meals, meat flavoring or sprays.
- Are handcrafted in the U.S. with all U.S.-sourced ingredients.
- Contain no grains, wheat, soy, fillers, artificial preservatives or GMOs.
Pomegranates, in particular, have high levels of flavonoids and polyphenols, both potent antioxidants. Blueberries contain healthy fiber and powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. And raspberries provide potassium, magnesium, and other beneficial minerals.
I considered the use of organic berries to be essential for my Liver & Berry Bites. Berries are some of the most heavily sprayed crops, so with organic berries, you avoid the risk of contamination from potentially harmful pesticides and herbicides.
Are You Considering the Ethical and Environmental Aspects of the Treats You Buy?
Increasing numbers of pet parents are wanting to improve the nutritional, environmental and ethical aspects of the food they feed their dogs and cats, including treats.
Many of today’s pet owners care about what goes into treats. As we saw earlier, it’s not a secret that pet food and treats can contain ingredients that are unfit for human consumption.
That, unfortunately, includes the potential for them to contain the remains of dead, dying, diseased and disabled animals from feedlots, farms and even animal shelters.
Pet parents don’t want meat products that are by-products of the meat industry or any other industry. Nor do they want mysterious “meat meals” that may contain drug residues or worse.
They want more than marginal waste products being poured into large vats and cooked down to produce rendered meals for what the industry calls “pet food” and “pet treats.”
Instead, today’s pet parents want to know that what they are feeding their dog or cat is high-quality, biologically appropriate and safe. It matters to them that the food their pet is eating was raised in an ethical, environmentally sustainable way.
The only way to know for sure whether the food or treat you’re buying is safe, nutritious and ethical is to contact its manufacturer and verify its supply chain.
If the company’s website isn’t clearly talking about how their treats can help your pet thrive, it’s a good clue that the treat isn’t worth feeding to your dog.
Let Your Dog Know He’s “Top Dog” With Our Ancestral Diet-Approved Pet Treats
Why gamble with mystery treats when you can offer your dog one that you know will help him thrive, and not just survive?
Is it really worth your dog’s well-being – and even potentially his life?
Beef & Bison Bites and Liver & Berry Bites are safe, delicious treats that your pet will love as a between-meal treat or training reward.
To summarize, they are:
- Handcrafted in the U.S. from U.S. sourced ingredients.
- Made of grass–fed, free-range organ meats intended for human consumption (as opposed to the meat or meals used in commercial pet treats that is unfit for human consumption).
- Free of rendered by-products or unidentified meats of any kind, including meat meals, meat flavoring or sprays.
- Species-appropriate so they are free from unnecessary starchy carbs, ancient grains, corn, oatmeal, white or sweet potatoes, rice, meals and flours.
- Free of “hidden” and genetically engineered (GMO) ingredients, pesticide residues, fillers, additives or preservatives.
Choose the sustainably sourced, biologically appropriate treat your dog truly craves – and one that supports (not stresses) his innate metabolic machinery– with our “top dog” Beef & Bison Bites and Liver & Berry Bites. Order your supply today.