Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pet Treats & Their Tricky Labels

Fall has arrived! The days are getting shorter and the holidays will soon be upon us. Halloween is the first of the three holidays. As pet owners we have a responsibility to keep our pets away from things that can be harmful to them. Holiday festivities are often a place where we have an abundance of yummy food and treats are everywhere. They are out on tables, on countertops, in candy bags, dropped on the floor, in the trash, and other places where our sneaky little furry friends can get into them. Candy is not only bad for our children but it can make our pets very sick. We all know that chocolate is poisonous to pets but did you know that raisins are also poisonous? Raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs and cats. Candy wrappers can cause bowel obstruction that could require surgery.

We don’t have a special treat holiday for our pets. Many of us give goodies every day of the year so everyday is treat day. They certainly don’t suffer from a lack of treats. They could however suffer from eating the wrong treats.

There are so many treats to choose from and finding healthy treats is not always an easy task. A good place to start is by reading the ingredient label on the bag. The labels however can be confusing and even misleading.

Here in the USA, “country of origin laws” are weak at best. A label can say “Manufactured in the USA” or “Packaged in the USA”, “Made in the USA” or “Sourced in the USA” yet some ingredients in that product could have been manufactured in a country other than the USA. Did you know that the bulk of the worlds vitamins (Vit C, B12, A, and E) are manufactured in China? If vitamins were added to the treat, they most likely came from China yet there doesn’t have to be any mention of China on the package. That is one reason why I prefer that my pets get their vitamins from “whole foods” instead of synthetic vitamins.

We have all heard the horror stories about dogs getting sick or even dying from chicken jerky made in China.

These chicken treats are still on the shelves in some pet stores. Any reputable store would have removed these treats years ago when we first heard that there was a problem. So, once again buyers beware and remember that just because the label doesn’t mention China doesn’t mean it is free from ingredients that come from China.

Some treats have added fats and oils. Once again, if these fats and oils were purchased with Ethoxyquin or some other dangerous preservative already in the oils then the company does not have to list that on the label.

The next thing to look at is the other ingredients that are in the treat? It is best to stay away from carbohydrates,especially grains. While pets can usually tolerate grains, most pets do not digest them very well and some have
ongoing tummy problems from them. Many pets are allergic to some of the grains, with corn, wheat, and soy being at the top of the list of common allergens. If your pet suffers from chronic skin problems, grains could be
contributing to the problem or even be the cause of the problem. Cats should not eat carbohydrates. They are obligate carnivores.

Here is a list of some ingredients that you should stay away from that are in some very popular pet treats.

“Wheat flour, wheat bran, Whole Grain Corn, Corn Gluten, Corn Flour, Whole Grain Wheat, Soybean Mill Run, Powdered Cellulose, Chicken By-Product Meal, Soybean Oil, poultry by-product meal, synthetic vitamins, preservatives, to name a few”.

I am not going to explain all of these ingredients but I will explain one of them as an example. Chicken byproduct meal is the pieces and parts left after the good meat is removed from the chicken for the human food industry; what remain are byproducts. Byproducts can be feathers, beaks, feet, combs or worse. There also can be parts that are healthy like the heart, gizzards, etc. There’s no way to know what is in byproduct meal and because of that it is best to stay clear of byproducts.

So how can you as the consumer know the difference between a healthy treat and an unhealthy or even harmful treat? If you find a treat that you think your pet might like then do some research on that product and find out what the ingredients are and where they came from. You can ask the store if they know or better yet call the treat company yourself. I have made several calls and done much research to learn what is in some of these treats and where they were made and where the ingredients came from.

While you are checking into the treats that you feed your pets, it would be a good idea to take a look at the ingredient label on your pet food. The same applies to pet food as well.

There are many safe and nutritious treats available that pets love and whose labels are easy to understand. Find a great treat and your pet will thank you and will be healthier and happy as a result!

“A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal” Proverbs 12:10 NIV

References: Pet Food (What You Need to Know) for Your Pet's Sake by Dr. Donna Spector, Your Pet’s Food, Exposing Manufacturers’ Dirty Tricks by Dr. Karen Becker, China-Free Dog Food? Don’t Count On It by The Dog Food Advisor

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