A Message from the Vet - May 2011
Pet Treats

If you paid attention to the news over the past few years, you should have heard of the risks and hazards that come with processed food products for our pets:

  • In 2007, many animal feeds in the US were contaminated with melamine, a chemical used to make plastics, resulting in severe kidney damage.

  • Early 2009, salmonella-contaminated peanut products out of a Georgia plant caused illnesses in both people and pets, leading to product recalls.

  • In September of 2010, Hartz recalled 75,000 packages of beefy dog treats when random testing by the FDA found Salmonella contamination.

  • Early this month, it was revealed that Pig Ears being sold as pet treats for dogs from an Illinois processing company were contaminated with Salmonella. These have been recalled after causing severe gastrointestinal illness in a dog.

    Clearly, we must be diligent about what we feed our pets. Anyone who has engaged me in recent conversation about safe pet foods and treats has heard me advise of buying treats from reputable manufacturers produced under US guidelines and controls. Treats made commercially in mass quantities, regardless of company or country of origin, should be scrutinized for quality and safety.

    That being said, why not use fresh treats, homemade biscuits (ask Dr. Denham!), washed slivers of fresh vegetables or small tastes of fruit, or morsels of low fat cooked fish or meat? These are safe for the mature healthy pet. Nuts, grapes, and raisins are NOT recommended. If your pet is a glutton and swallows without chewing, make sure the pieces are small to prevent choking or an obstruction further down the piping.

    And if you or a house member is heavy handed in the treat department, try offering your pet's regular dog food kibble as treats throughout the day. At least 90% of your pet's diet should be a high quality, AAFCO tested, well-balanced pet food, to ensure you are providing the proper nutrition to your pet. Also, make sure you are taking into account the size of your pet! An entire bacon treat strip for a 10 pound chihuahua would be equivalent to you eating a 1/2 gallon of ice cream!

    And above all, cute or not, make your pet work for the treat with a simple command and reward. Pets love to please as much as they love to eat!

    John Haddock, DVM

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    Last updated 2014 May 10.