How to Read a Dog Treat Label

All of us want to “treat” our dogs, but do we know how to recognize a healthy treat from one that resembles human “junk food?” Because your dog cannot read the label, he or she is relying on you to find treats that do not contain unhealthy ingredients. Here are some guidelines to assist you in your treat selection:

1. Look for all-natural treats, ones that do not contain artificial colors or preservatives. Natural preservatives, such as vitamin E and mixed tocopherols, are preferable.

2. When selecting treats from local bakeries, ask about the ingredients in the frosting or other decorations. Avoid candied yogurt coatings as these are high in sugar and fat. Ask about how the colors are produced and avoid bakeries that use artificial colors. Instead, select treats whose colors come from vegetable powders and whose frosting does not contain processed sugar or artificial sweeteners.

3. Avoid meat treats that contained animal by-products, animal fat, or other unnamed meat sources.

4. Avoid treats that contain artificial sweeteners or excessive salt. “Good” sweeteners include honey and unsweetened applesauce.

5. Avoid treat made in China or made with ingredients sourced in China as dog illnesses and even deaths have been linked to meat and vegetable treats from China. (for a complete report, please read Whole Dog Journal, September 2012, pp. 4-5)

Following these few simple guidelines will assure that you “treating” your dog in a safe, healthy manner. Believe it or not, your dog will even PREFER the all-natural tastes to the “junk food” tastes. Try it and watch tails wag!