Many of the most popular treats on the market contain carcinogenic preservatives, rendered meats, and toxic ingredients.

The Harmful Effects of Poor Quality Treats

We all give treats to our dogs as a sign of our love and affection, and because it gives us pleasure to see our dogs happy when they get a treat.

However, if we choose to show love and affection through giving our dogs poor quality treats, we can actually be shortening their lifespan.

Poor-ingredient, highly processed treats not only lead to obesity, but they lead to chronic inflammation and chronic dehydration. These conditions predispose dogs to organ dysfunction and chronic inflammatory conditions such as skin allergies, ear infections, anal gland issues, and arthritis.

So, not only would our dogs be dealing with the secondary effects of poor diet and treats, but they would also gain too much weight, and thus suffer from the repercussions of obesity as well.


Low-Value TreatsTo be clear, the terms “high and low value treats” are used a bit differently when we are talking about training. That is not how I am referring to them here. I am only discussing their nutritional value and not the perceived value of the dog during training.

What To Avoid

Avoid ingredients such as BHA and BTA. These are classified as possible human carcinogens that interfere with hormone function and break down essential vitamins in the body. They can also cause inflammatory skin reactions.

Avoid meat meals. Any animal protein pet food ingredient that includes the word ‘meal’ after it, means it is a rendered ingredient. Check out this article that explains what rendered means.

Avoid wheat flour, especially if your dog has a history of skin allergies. This also would be of low value to your dog’s daily nutritional needs.

Avoid treats with a laundry list of ingredients. Especially ingredients that you don’t recognize or are difficult to pronounce.

Here is a list of some of the most harmful treats on the market:

  1. Milkbones contain BHA and BTA. Their main ingredient is wheat flour.
  2. Snausages contain propylene glycol, a known toxin to dogs. They also contain BHA.
  3. Pupperoni contains propylene glycol, a known toxin to dogs. They also contain BHA.
  4. Beggin Strips contain carcinogenic food dyes.


High-Value Dog TreatsHow to Choose Healthy Treats

Choose high value treats that actually add to your dog’s nutrition rather than take away from it.

You can do this by giving one ingredient, freeze-dried, gently baked, or jerky meat treats that are responsibly sourced and made in the U.S.A. I also love to give my dogs dried sweet potatoes. It’s awesome for their digestion and helps keep them regular.

Air dried dog food is great as treats. Air dried food tends to be expensive, so instead of giving it as meals, I use it for training.

You can also find healthy recipes for homemade dog treats. Check out Stella and Chewy’s homemade treat recipes.

Fruits and vegetables are perfect healthy treats. When I meal prep for the week and cut up fruits and veggies, I set aside a container for my dogs as well. Here are my articles on healthy fruits for dogs and healthy vegetables for your dog.

When feeding treats, the most important thing to keep in mind is to subtract the amount that you give in treats that day from your dog’s daily needs. For example, on training days I give more treats than usual, therefore I subtract that percent of treats from the meal that day. This way, my dog is not receiving treats on top of his daily needs and I can avoid weight gain.

I hope this article was helpful and that you can enjoy giving your best friend treats without feeling guilty.