5 Vet-Approved Tips For Buying Safe Dog Treats

Amy Tokic
by Amy Tokic
In the wake of recent dog deaths and illnesses, Dr. Liz Hanson offers tips on choosing safe treats

Yesterday, we told you about how nearly 600 pets have died and more than 3,600 have taken ill after eating jerky treats that were made in China. Federal Food and Drug Administration officials aren’t sure what the exact cause of the outbreak and have turned to veterinarians for help. And so did we – PetGuide.com turned to Dr. Liz Hanson for advice pet parents can use when shopping for dog treats.

Dr. Hanson, who practices in Orange County, California, is an outspoken advocate for the need to provide the average consumer with the best quality products for their pets at affordable prices. She has put together a list of tips for how to keep your pets safe and what to look for when choosing treats. (In general, treats should not make up more than 10-15% of a pet’s total diet.)

1. Whenever possible, treats should be made in USA and made from animals raised in the USA.

NOTE: this claim can be misleading on some brands. Many products say they are “Made” in the USA – when in fact the poultry or animal is raised abroad and then manufactured/packaged in the USA – this is where the quality can be compromised due to conflicting safety certifications/regulations. Look for “American or USA-raised chicken.” Example: Betsy Farms jerky brand (available at Walmart/Sam’s Club).

2. Start with looking at the ingredient list.

  • The ingredients are listed on the label by weight and so the first few ingredients on the list are usually the most significant and should be especially high in quality.
  • Top quality ingredients are as fresh and pure as possible.
  • The fresher ingredients available to USA food makers are grown in the USA and again, it is highly recommended to choose products from US sources.
  • Ingredients on the label should be an easily recognizable food, with no questions what the source is. For example, you want to choose a pet treat with “chicken” as an ingredient and NOT “meat meal”.
  • Organic ingredients are good because they are more scrutinized from inspectors and have less contaminants.

3. Ingredients to avoid.

  • Artificial preservatives (ie BHA, BHT, calcium propioinate, ethoxyquin, sodium nitrate)
  • Artificial colors
  • Chemical humectants (i.e. propylene glycol). This is often used to keep treats moist and chewy.

4. Healthy (alternative) natural snacks.

  • Green beans, celery, cooked yams, frozen apple, kiwi, watermelon, chicken or tofu hot dog
  • Avoid onions, grapes or raisins!

5. Vet-approved pet treats – ALWAYS ask your vet what is safe for your dog if you have any concerns.

Amy Tokic
Amy Tokic

Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).

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