A recent article made the news this week detailing what all dog owners should know about dog treats. Patty Khuly, a vet and writer from the online vetstreet journal, lists several bones and treats dogs should avoid. Some of the health problems dogs might encounter from dental chews and dog treats involve gastroenteritis, gastrointestinal obstruction, and dental fractures, though many other problems can also arise.
Khuly claims most problems occur when feeding some dogs large and hard to digest treats. Though rawhides are good for teeth, larger dogs will attempt to swallow the product whole, risking obstruction, injury, or even death. One case reported by Khuly was when one of her dog patients chewed on an antler–a common dog treat–and fractured a tooth in doing so. The dog also obtained a fungal infection at the lip from this product.
Just this year was a large recall of a particular dog food by the company Pro-Pet for salmonella contamination. Three affected brands included Hubbard Life, Joy Combo, and QC Plus. Although dogs can often handle salmonella bacteria, this puts humans at risk because they are handling the food when feeding their dogs. Last November, there was another recall by the company brand True Raw Choice Bulk Dehydrated Natural Pet Treats. This was also an issue of salmonella bacteria.
Other toxins have also been reported to be in dog chews and pet treats, leading to major health problems. A major headline from ABC News mentions an instance where dog treats made in China allegedly killed a pug, causing kidney failure then death. Owner Kevin Thaxton told the reporter, “it was just devastating.” Sadly, the Thaxtons went through a similar ordeal with their Pekingese-mix puppy, who exhibited the same symptoms, and finally died from kidney failure.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allegedly had a warning regarding an increase in complaints around chicken jerky dog treats made in China. Candace Thaxton reported reading that the chicken jerky read that it was manufactured in South Carolina, so she assumed it to be safe. Further investigation led the Thaxtons to discover that the product was actually “Made in China.”
The FDA reported over 500 complaints of owners claiming their dogs suffered severe illness or death after eating jerky treats made in China. The FDA issued three reports over several years– advising owners to watch their dogs closely after feeding them dog treats.
Many owners have completely thrown out the idea of feeding their dogs dental chews and treats. Some even take a holistic, or raw, approach with their pet’s diet.
WebMD reports a raw dog food diet can have both pros and cons but could possibly be a better alternative than commercial dog products. The popularity of raw meat, bones, fruits and vegetables is on the rise. Racing hounds and sled dogs are known for having a raw food diet. Australian veterinarian Ian Billinghurts introduced the raw diet to family pets in 1993. He believed that adult dogs would thrive on an evolutionary diet.
Many mainstream veterinarians disagree, however, along with the FDA, reportedly. The risks include bacteria exposure for pet owners, adverse effects of an unbalanced diet, and potential of internal puncture from whole bones commonly used in such a raw meal.
The benefits of a select raw food diet can include smaller stools, higher levels of energy, cleaner teeth, healthier skin, and shinier coats. Other health benefits are still under investigation. Pet owners should be cautious when selecting the right diet, chew, and treat for their dogs, as health problems can be a major risk.
By Lindsey Alexander