Thursday, June 4, 2015

Healthy pet treats: Considerations when Buying Marion (Meg) Smart DVM, PhD

    • In 2014, at the PIJAC (Pet Industry Joint Advisory Committee) trade show at the International Center. Mississauga Ontario, the number of new pet  treats is noticeably increased from previous years. This increase is in part related to a consumer fear of potentially unidentified fatal substances in treat ingredients sourced off shore. Should we also be cautious of treats made from local or north American sources? I visited many of the booths that were selling  treats (freeze dried, dehydrated, baked, extruded, frozen, raw, HPP (high pressure pasteurization). The question I asked was simple: "When you formulate your treats do you determine based on  the nutrient content of those treats how many treats can be fed without upsetting the nutrient balance of the pet's diet?" The answer was a unanimous" no " followed by "I never really thought about it."
      For me to take the popular treats and  then calculate how many would upset the nutrient balance of the numerous diets available would be an almost impossible task. To help you determine what is the best possible treat for your pet, follow these guidelines:
      • The Ingredient list should give an idea of the ingredients that go into making the treat.
        • Treats can be made from just one ingredient to many depending on the nature of the treat.
        •  Many treats will have ingredients that commonly contribute to food intolerance's.
        • One ingredient treats made from liver, pigs ears, dehydrated fish etc. may have preservatives  that are not listed as an ingredient.
      • Some treats will have a Guaranteed Analysis on  the package most of the time this analysis may indicate the minimum protein and fat and the maximum moisture , others can be quite detailed. The calorie content is often lacking, but it may be obtained from the manufacturer if that information is on the label. One ingredient treat seldom have any nutrient analysis on the package. Most of these are very high in protein, carbohydrates and/or fat and can upset the dietary nutrient balance if too many are fed. These treats can significantly alter a pets response to therapeutic diets used to manage diabetes, obesity, liver or renal disease.
      • The strategies for marketing treats are the same as those related to the marketing of pet foods
        • Example 1. Everyday healthy dog snacks that support your dog's optimal health, including a healthy immune system, joint health and digestive health.
        • Ingredients: Wheat Flour, Wheat Bran, Poultry By-Product Meal, Milk, Wheat Germ, Beef Fat (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Dicalcium Phosphate, Colour, Salt, Natural Flavour, Artificial Flavour, Vitamins and Minerals (Choline chloride, Zinc Sulphate, Vitamin E, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate, Biotin, Niacin, Riboflavin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin B12, Ferrous Sulphate, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Menadione Sodium Bisulphite Complex, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulphate, Ethylenediamine Dihydriodide, Vitamin D3, Folic Acid, Sodium Selenite)
        • Guaranteed Analysis: Crude
        • Protein (minimum) ..... 15.0%
          Crude Fat (minimum) ......... 5.0%
          Crude Fibre (maximum) ....... 3.5%
          Moisture (maximum) .......... 12.0%
          Calcium (minimum) ........... 0.80%
          Calcium (maximum) ........... 2.0%
          Phosphorus (minimum) ........ 0.65%
          Zinc (minimum) ............... 110 mg/kg
          Iodine (minimum) ............ 1.5 mg/kg
          Vitamin A (minimum) ......... 4500 IU/UI/kg
          Vitamin D (minimum) ......... 450 IU/UI/kg
          Vitamin E (minimum) ......... 50 IU/UI/kg
          Riboflavin (minimum) ........ 2.0 mg/kg
        • My comments: Calculations based on a 10 kg dog who's energy requirements are 670 Kcal/day
        • 28 grams (one ounce) of this treat has 93 Kcal (14 % of the calories required), 4.2g protein (12.3% of protein requirements), 1.4 grams
        •  This is likely a fairly cheap treat, the formulation likely based on a grocery brand dog food. If fed in moderation, less  than  3 ounces  a day, should not upset the nutrient  balance  of most commercial pet foods. There are no associated health benefits to this treat and may not be tolerated by dogs with food intolerance's. Note the splitting of  the wheat ingredients.
        • Example 2 This treat is packaged in three different packages each with different descriptive  names: Each treat indicated " Tender, chewy treats with a delicious taste your dog will love because your dog deserves the best."
        • Ingredients: Chicken, Soy Grits, Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Rice Flour, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Propylene Glycol, Natural Smoke Flavour, Guar Gum, Lactic Acid, Garlic Powder, Artificial Flavour, Potassium Sorbate, Minerals (Ferrous Sulphate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulphate, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Vitamins (Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Niacin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D3, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin B12), Colour, Sodium Nitrate, BHA
        • Guaranteed Analysis:
        • Crude Protein (minimum) ...... 18.0%
          Crude Fat (minimum) ...... 8.0%
          Crude Fibre (maximum) ...... 2.5%
          Moisture (maximum) ...... 22.0%
          Calcium (minimum) ...... 0.80%
          Phosphorus (minimum) ...... 0.64%
          Iron (minimum) ...... 64 mg/kg
          Copper (minimum) ...... 5.8 mg/kg
          Manganese (minimum) ...... 15 mg/kg
          Zinc (minimum) ...... 96 mg/kg
          Vitamin A (minimum) ...... 4000 IU/kg
          Vitamin D (minimum) ...... 400 IU/kg
          Vitamin E (minimum) ...... 40 IU/kg
          Thiamine (minimum) ...... 0.9 mg/kg
          Riboflavin (minimum) ...... 2 mg/kg
        •  My comments:  Note the ingredients in red are these really what you want in a treat?
        • Example 3: “Home style treats like mother makes"
        • Ingredients:
        • Deboned Chicken, Brown Rice, Oatmeal, Cane Molasses, Gelatin, Vegetable Glycerin, Natural Flavor, Dried Cultured Skim Milk, Salt, preserved with Citric Acid, Mixed Tocopherols & Oil of Rosemary.
        • Guaranteed Analysis:
      Crude Protein
      22.0% min
      Crude Fat
      15.0% min
      Crude Fiber
      3.0% max
      25.0% max


  1. This is a great post and also very informative. Thanks for sharing this.
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  2. Nice and informative information. Thanks for sharing with us. I would like to suggest Smiling Dog Treats Dry Roasted Duck is a product that helps the dog to live naturally. It is a healthy dog treat that provides proper wellness and health. This product is similar to the real food that is made with basic ingredients that are based on the dog’s diet.

  3. Pets are loved by everyone so they need great food.
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