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Every dog has it’s day… and this is it.

Nobody seems to know the origin of Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day, but every canine in the world knows the best way to celebrate it. Pets around the globe will be wagging their tails with glee when their owners serve up unusual or home-made doggy snacks to mark the occasion.

With observation of this important holiday, we must also beware of maintaining quality when we choose a biscuit for our own furry friend.

Dog biscuits have come a long way over the years. We make it a point to say this every time we discuss treats: Don’t buy dog treats at the grocery store, unless you also do each of the following:

  • Read the ingredient panel of any treat you consider buying. Pass it by if it contains artificial preservatives and/or colors, animal products from unnamed species, or animal by-products.
  • Check the ingredient panel for foods your dog may be allergic to or intolerant of.
  • Don’t forget that you can use real, fresh food for treats! Offer your dog bits of meat and pieces of fruit and vegetables, and determine which he likes best.

So how do you know if the treats you give your dog are healthy? It’s actually pretty simple. As with every food you buy (for yourself or your dog), it’s all about the ingredients. This article from Whole Dog Journal will give you a few pointers on selecting the right treat for your pet.

What to Look for in Dog Treats

We suggest you start with the ingredient panel. Ingredients are listed on the label by weight; there is more of the first ingredient on the list than the second ingredient, and so on. The first few ingredients on the list are the most significant, since they comprise the majority of the content, they should be especially high in quality.

What constitutes quality in a pet food ingredient? Actually, the same attributes that indicate quality in human food denote quality in pet food. Top quality ingredients are as fresh, pure, and minimally processed as possible. Whole food ingredients are better than by-products or food “fractions.” For example, “wheat” is better than “wheat flour” and “wheat flour” is better than “wheat bran and wheat germ.” The more highly processed an ingredient is, the more nutrients it loses.

Ingredients that are sourced as close as possible to the manufacturer are a plus. Again, they are fresher than ingredients that require shipping from across the country, which is also good for the environment.

Every ingredient on the label should be easily recognizable, and there should be no question what the source is. For example, “meat meal” or “animal fat” could come from just about anywhere. In contrast, “chicken” comes from chickens, and so does “chicken fat.”

Organic ingredients are less likely to be adulterated with contaminants, and they receive extra scrutiny from inspectors. The more organic ingredients, the better.

If a sweetener is used, it should be natural and food-based, and used in moderation. Applesauce, molasses, or honey are better than artificial sweeteners. We don’t recommend any sweetener in dog food, but we’re talking about treats, which are something your dog should only get a few of, and not on a daily basis.

If a treat is preserved, it should contain a natural preservative. Vitamins C and E (the latter is listed as “mixed tocopherols”) are effective and safe preservatives. Some treats contain no preservatives at all; these should be stored properly and used promptly.

Ingredients to Avoid

While you’re examining the list of ingredients and quality components, make sure the treat does not contain any of the following:

  • Artificial preservatives, including BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, potassium sorbate, sodium nitrate, and calcium propionate should be avoided.
  • Artificial colors. Color is added to dog treats to appeal to you. Your dog does not care what color the treat is, so avoid buying treats that contain these unnecessary (and many believe unhealthy) chemicals.
  • Chemical humectants, such as propylene glycol. These are used in some pet (and human) foods to keep them moist and chewy, and to prevent discoloration in preserved meats. There are more natural, food-sourced humectants available, such as vegetable glycerin and molasses.  Speaking of glycerin: if it’s not identified as “vegetable glycerin” (a food-sourced product), it’s likely to be a petrochemical product – not good.

At the Barkery, we spend time researching to ensure all of the treats we bring in are of good quality and meet the expectations we have for the health of our pets. Ensure you are feeding what’s best for your best friend by stopping in your local Barkery & speaking with a pet nutritionist today!