Types of Dog Treats Your Dog Should Avoid

Who doesn’t love a delicious snack in between meals? Just like humans, dogs have a natural affinity for food and love to be spoiled with treats. As dog parents, we are the gatekeeper to our dog’s health, so we must feed them the right snacks. There are a variety of dog snacks from crunchy dog biscuits and soft chewy treats to freeze-dried meat and dental chews, the options are plenty. Since there are already many amazing dog treats that are safe and healthy for your dog, today we’re listing out some treats you might want to be cautious of.

1. Rawhide Chews

If you haven’t heard of rawhide, you’ve probably seen it at a pet store before. Rawhide chews are shaped like a bone and are marketed as a popular treat to curb chewing instincts in dogs. Chewing is a natural instinct for dogs and can provide physical and mental stimulation for your dog. Teething in puppies is inevitable as they are trying to explore the new environment around them. The habit of chewing does not go away as a dog gets older because dogs chew to scavenge, play, and clean their teeth. Rawhide bone chews are extremely tough to bite through, which keeps your dog preoccupied. In addition, the action of chewing can help strengthen the jaw, keep teeth clean, and even soothe anxiety, 

A pug chewing on a treat outside

What's so bad about rawhide chews? 

Rawhide chews come in all shapes and size that fits with each dog’s breed, size, age, and chewing preference. Small dog breeds such as Chihuahua or Maltese have weaker jaws that are not necessarily suitable for rawhide chew treats. Although rawhide chews will gradually become soft enough for your dog to tear them into smaller pieces, they can cause choking, intestinal blockage, and gastrointestinal issues for your dog. Puppies and senior dogs also have weaker jaws, which means that rawhide chews can potentially do more damage than good to their teeth. From this first point we can see that rawhide chews aren’t the safest treat for your dog’s health

In addition to their suitability, rawhide chews can also pose a threat to your dog’s health because of their heavy manufacturing process. Rawhide chews are not made from dehydrated meat but the inner portion of animal hides. If you think about it, you’re feeding your dog the by-product of the leather industry. The animal hides will be processed multiple times through chemical solutions so they are clean, tasty, and well preserved. The chemicals and artificial flavorings in rawhide chews can not only cause short-term health issues such as vomiting and diarrhea for sensitive dogs, but it can also be harmful to your dog’s health in the long term.

There are no chews and treats that are without risk 

There are both pros and cons to rawhide chew. While it is a great treat that will satisfy your pup’s chew craving, it can also be a dangerous threat. We recommend that you avoid feeding your dog rawhide chews because the risk is often much greater than the benefits. You can easily swap out rawhide chews for safer alternatives, such as carrots, bully sticks, edible dental chews, or dehydrated animal ears.

However, there are no chews and treats that are without risk. No matter what type of chew treat you give your dog, if not properly sized, chewed, and swallowed can be a choking hazard. Since dogs tend to eat quickly, pet parents should never leave a dog unattended with a chew treat. If you’re feeding your dog a chew treat, make sure to monitor closely to keep your dog safe and healthy

2. Grape and Raisins 

While you may think grapes are a great natural source of nutrients and vitamins for you, it is a deadly poison for your beloved dog. Just one grape or raisin can be highly toxic and can cause sudden acute liver failure to your dog if consumed. Although the cause for grape allergy in dogs is not known, we do know the symptoms and treatment for it. Early signs of grape poisoning include vomiting and diarrhea. Other common signs include heavy panting, dry nose, trouble breathing, dry nose, and changes in urination. You will most likely know if your dog had accidentally consumed a grape because they will show behavioral changes such as refusing food, hiding, and physical weakness. 

Fresh purple grapes on a table

Just one grape or raisin can be highly toxic and can cause sudden acute liver failure for your dog 

If you saw or know that your dog had accidentally eaten a grape you should immediately contact your vet. Symptoms from grape poisoning can occur right away or throughout a few hours. So even if your pet seems fine initially, the symptoms will still appear later on. The quicker your dog receives treatment the better chance your dog has at recovery. 

3. Nuts 

Nuts are usually viewed as a great source of healthy fat and protein for humans; however, the situation for dogs is a bit more complicated. Nuts should not be a part of your dog’s regular diet because they are high in fats and calories. Additionally, some nuts are even toxic or bad for your dog’s health. Usually, peanuts and chestnuts are the two types that are safe and healthy for dogs. Although peanuts are a legume, they’re typically regarded as part of the nut family. Peanuts are a great source of protein and amino acids which are both essential nutrients for dogs. That being said, we do not recommend feeding your dogs peanuts or hazelnuts daily. The high caloric content in nuts can cause canine obesity, which might lead to other health issues like pancreatitis.

Peanut butter provides an excellent source of protein, but it should only be consumed in moderation due to the high sugar, salt, and fat content 

Peanut butter is a common ingredient in many dog treats and is generally safe to consume in moderation. Peanut butter provides an excellent source of protein, vitamins and healthy fat that’s great for your dog’s health. However, there are a few things you need to be aware of when feeding peanut butter to your dog. Some commercial peanut butter contains lots of sugar and salt, which can be problematic for your dog’s health. To reduce sugar, some companies have been replacing xylitol as a sugar-free alternative. Xylitol is mostly used for baked goods, chewing gums, toothpaste and other human food products. While it’s safe for humans to consume xylitol, it’s toxic for dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, xylitol consumption can cause hypoglycemia in dogs, which is a life-threatening condition equivalent to poison. Symptoms of xylitol poisoning in dogs include weakness, lack of coordination, and seizures. You must read the label of peanut butter or other products that might contain sugar to check for xylitol. 

Homemade peanut butter in a blue bowl that is placed on a tablecloth

  • Almonds: While almonds are not toxic for dogs, they’re hard to digest for dogs. Even unsalted, unseasoned, unprocessed almonds can end up causing diarrhea or intestinal distress for your dog. 
  • Macadamia nuts: Toxic, do not feed macadamia nuts to your dog! According to the list of toxins for small animals published by Cornell University, macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. 
  • Walnuts: Walnuts have a high moisture content meaning that they can start molding or growing fungi rapidly. Some of the fungi on walnuts can produce mycotoxins that cause tremors and seizures in dogs. In addition to moldy walnuts, black walnuts are also toxic for dogs and can cause symptoms such as vomiting, tremors, and seizures. 
  • Pistachios: While the debate goes on about the edibility of pistachios for dogs, we believe that pistachios are risky for dogs. Just like walnuts, pistachios are prone to molding that can cause liver problems for your dog. Additionally, pistachios are high in fat and calories, which can lead to weight gain and pancreatitis. 
  • Pecans: Pecans are not safe for your pup. Pecans are prone to produce tremorgenic mycotoxins from molds. Mycotoxins are very harmful to dogs and can lead to seizures and other neurological issues. 

Nuts are generally not something you should feed your dog daily. An occasional few licks of peanut butter for your pooch is safe and healthy, but be cautious with other types of nuts when your dog is around. If your dog accidentally ingested a nut, call your vet immediately and monitor your dog closely for any symptoms. 

4. Dairy Products  

Have you ever seen those cute videos where dog owners share their ice cream or whip cream with their dogs? Here are a few reasons why you should think twice before feeding your pup anything with dairy in it. Just like humans, dogs can have lactose intolerance that leads to intestinal upset. According to the American Kennel Club, Dairy products are the leading source of food intolerance in dogs. Although milk is high in natural fat and sugar, too much dairy product can lead to obesity and pancreatitis in your dog. Some dogs are allergic to dairy, which can cause short-term skin irritation. Symptoms of lactose intolerance in dogs can vary from loose stools and diarrhea to vomiting and abdominal pain. Although lactose intolerance is not a life-threatening condition for dogs, your pup may still feel weak and uncomfortable. So the next time you want to buy your dog a cup of puppuccino, swap it for some ice water instead! 

A person holding up a plain icecream cone in front of a store

What else should I look out for? 

Aside from food items, you should also beware of the ingredients that are in commercial dog treats. While some dog treat packaging makes the content look delicious and attractive, the truth lies in the labels. Generally, dog treats that contain preservatives, flavoring, wheat flour, excess salt, and sugar are unhealthy and unnecessary. Some dog treat manufacturing companies will include low-quality, unhealthy ingredients to lessen the production cost and make the treat seem better than it is. Here’s a list of ingredients you should look out for when purchasing dog treats for your dog! 

  • Meat and grain meals and by-products
  • Rendered fat
  • Artificial preservatives: BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin
  • Food dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and 4-MIE) 
  • Corn or Wheat gluten 
  • Sodium nitrates and nitrites 
  • Xylitol 
  • Corn syrup 
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Salt 
A dog looking at the food held by a person

Unlike humans, dogs can’t choose their own meals and treats, so it is up to us as dog parents to safeguard our dog’s health and happiness. Any level of food poisoning can cause discomfort, pain, and in some cases, death for your dog. While you may be tempted to share all the treats you love with your dog, you need to be wary of your dog’s health and wellbeing. Hopefully, this article delivered some insight into treats you should not feed your dog! 

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