Pet Treats: Are They All Created Equal?

Guest Post: Elliot Harvey’s Natural Health Column:

Pet treats are important in the life of your dogs and cats.  What is life without a treat? Be honest—how many of us can go through a day without giving ourselves some little tidbit as an emotional reward, to satisfy a craving, to increase energy? You can control when and what you consume as a treat but your pets are totally dependent on you and your knowledge of how much and how good is that treat.

Treats for pets are valuable tools in training—“positive reinforcement” means tiny treats that you can use as a surprise reward for a job well done.  A little snack or after dinner treat…there are many uses which is why the dog/cat treat business is a multi-billion dollar annual business. Can pet treats actually be causing health problems that you’re not aware of?

From big box stores to pet boutiques to retail stores, they all sell delicious, mouth-watering, paw licking treats aimed at enticing YOU.  Your dog is attracted to the scent and taste of a food item, not the shape or color, and certainly not a cute little name wrapped in a glitzy package. The leading brands of pet treats sell on creative marketing, bag graphics, brand identity or attractive pricing. Are they worth the price??? NO. The sharp rise in pet illness may be attributed to tasty morsels that contain unhealthful ingredients.

Fortunately, today’s pet owners demand health pet treats.  In response to that demand, companies are beginning to incorporate natural and/or organic ingredients into the treats.

New treats from Dog Gone Natural are by far superior then many items in the supply chain. These tasty morsels are made in Kentucky with the proteins sourced from local farms.  They smoke the meats in their own facility with American labor and a strict code of quality and no chemicals or synthetics!  Great Life Performance Pet Products manufactures out of their Texas facility all natural treats in different tasty flavors. They do not use grains or potatoes in any of their products.  The Real Meat Company offers combinations of different meat treats that are air dried. Pioneer Naturals offers a variety tasty biscuit treats with very fine ingredients.

Be diligent of treats and ingredients from China- what is really in them? Some companies advertise Made in USA, however: the ingredients are from CHINA!

Still, you need to be vigilant and avoid the following ingredients:

Propylene glycol- an industrial solvent used in acrylics, stains, inks, dyes, cellophane, antifreeze, airplane de-icers and brake fluid. Side effects on animals include: irregular heart beat, underdeveloped growth, brain, liver and kidney failure, lowering blood pressure and even death.  Pets love the sweet taste.


Blue 1 and 2- found in pet foods and treats; these have caused brain tumors and should be avoided.
Red 3- is a cause of thyroid tumors.
Yellow 6– linked to adrenal gland and kidney tumors; it is really a carcinogen.


BHA or BHT– many studies have proven the use of this widely used chemical to be a cause of cancer in rats.
Propyl galate– is a preservative used to prevent spoiling but has been linked to cancer. �
Ethoxyquin– is perhaps the most widely used chemical and the most dangerous.  Not only does it cause many forms of cancer, but it has been linked to mutations of genes that suppress cancer.  It has been banned as an “additional” additive in dog foods and treats but it is allowed to be used in formulas or recipes with further mention on the packaging!  That’s sneaky and dangerous.  Ethoxyquin is allowed to be used in exotic bird formulas—read what’s in those seed mixes for Polly and Pedro Parrott!
Potassium Bromate- has been banned throughout the world, except for the United States and Japan. It is used in flours and causes renal cancers as well as some forms of lung cancer and we wonder why young women who have never smoked are dying from lung cancer!
Acesulfame-K is a chemical sweetener used in human food and pet foods.  Sweetness attracts all mammals, which is why it is tossed into the food.  In controlled studies, this chemical caused cancer! These cancers included lung tumors and breast tumors), various types of leukemia and chronic respiratory disease in the animals.
Partially Hydrogenated Oils– is a butter replacement in the food industry but it is very high in trans-fats which promotes heart disease and diabetes.
Poultry by-product meal is a high-protein ingredient used as a major component in some dog foods and treats. It is made from grinding clean parts of poultry cadavers, which can contain bones, offal and undeveloped eggs. It also can contain feathers. May be hard to digest but worse than that—you just don’t know what it is!
Meat by-product meal– is a substandard form of protein, used by many popular pet food and treat manufacturers because it is cheap. Sources may include: road kill, euthanized cats and dogs, including their collars. Don’t forget, the drugs that were used to euthanize the pets are still there.
Brown Sugar / sugar/ molasses/ polypropylene glycol (is this really antifreeze in a treat??) – some of the effects of sugar in pets are- suppression of the immune system, mineral imbalance, hyperactivity, diabetes, kidney distress, weight gain, allergies, excessive pancreatic activity, liver activity, increase in bad bacteria in the colon, and sugar is an important nutrient for cancer cells—they thrive on sugar! Notice how many dogs are getting heavier.

Additional items to be wary of:

ground wheat (linked to allergies), corn gluten meal, wheat four, ground yellow corn, sugar glycerin, hydrogenate starch hydrolysis, bacon fat preserved with BHA, soybean meal, salt, sorbic acid (a preservative), artificial flavor, calcium propionate (a preservative), blood ( animal plasma- can come from any animal- can have toxic elements), glyceryl monostearate, phosphoric acid, added color (Red 40, Yellow 5).

Questions? Email me at

What do you give your pet as a healthy treat? Share with us in the comments!

This post was written by Elliot Harvey MH of (Pet Assure customers receive a 15% discount on products at by entering coupon code PA-03.)  Author of “The Healthy Wholistic Dog,” Elliot has years of experience in animal health and wellness. Pet Assure is not affiliated with and does not endorse Great Life Performance Pet Products. Pet Assure is presenting this guest post for the benefit of its readers and retains no financial interest in any future transactions.

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1 Response

  1. Kim says:

    Molasses? That's what's in the hairball stuff! So is it straight molasses, or any at all that's not good for my kids?

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