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Dangerous Dog Treats Is Your Dog At Risk?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Sometimes even the best intentions can have dangerous or even tragic results.

As a good pet parent, you want your dog to have the very best life possible. That includes giving them everything that could possibly make them happy. One easy way that many owners show how much they love their animal companions is to treat them with a delicious snack. Our pets appreciate the treats and we get joy from giving them, so what could be wrong with a little extra goodie now and again?

The problem is that all treats are not created equal, and what you may not know about some treats could put your dog in grave danger.

Over the years I've talked to a lot of my colleagues in veterinary medicine about treats. I have spent years and years studying the treats on the market. I have learned a lot about products, what dogs like, and what is safe.

As you may recall, in 2007 we all heard about the horrific deaths and illnesses related to contaminated dog treats imported from China. The terrible situation came about because production standards in other countries are often less strict as they are in the United States. Most dog owners didn't know this, and didn't realize that their dogs' treats were made in a country with lax regulations (such as China). The treats in question were packaged and sold under U.S. brand names, but produced elsewhere.

Thousands of animals became sick as a result of consuming contaminated treats, and many others lost their lives. When owners became aware of the issue it led to greater attention to the dangers associated with imported treats. As a result, it also fed into a growing demand for natural treats that are made in the U.S.A. with U.S.-sourced ingredients. Two types of treats became much more popular during this time: rawhide chews and "bully sticks." Today I'd like to talk a little bit about them and help you understand which is better for your pet.

Rawhide Treats: Are They Safe?

It seems like rawhide treats have been around forever. These familiar chews come in lots of fun shapes and flavors, and dogs generally enjoy them. They're also very affordable and they last for a long time. But there are also some health dangers associated with rawhide treats, so make sure you understand the risks before giving your dog this kind of item.

Rawhide is made from animal hide, which is not digestible. If your dog swallows a piece of rawhide whole, it can become a choking hazard. Swallowed rawhide cannot be digested. That means it must travel through your dog's digestive tract where the sharp edges of the undigested rawhide can cause internal damage. It is not uncommon for veterinarians like myself to examine an x-ray only to find obstructions from rawhide. In some cases they even require a surgery.

Many owners find that rawhide treats don't fit into their lifestyle of reduced chemicals. Rawhide goes through a lot of processing before it is ready for sale, including a chemical process where it is washed with degreasers and detergents then sterilized in hydrogen peroxide. With these things in mind, you might want to reconsider the use of rawhide as treats.

Bully Sticks: The Healthier Alternative

These strange-looking snacks might look a little unusual at first but trust me: dogs go crazy for them. Unlike rawhide, bully sticks are made with the meat of the cow – not the hide – so bully sticks are more easily digestible. This eliminates the potential choking hazards and intestinal obstructions associated with rawhide chews. Bully sticks are a little more expensive than rawhide, but they are long-lasting and much safer for your dog. Plus bully sticks are natural and do not contain chemicals.

After the dog treat contamination issues began in 2007, there was a growing demand for all-natural dog treats, including bully sticks that were American made. But did you know that most bully sticks are not made in the U.S.A.?

Today I'd like to tell you about a new kind of bully stick that is safe, tasty, long lasting, made in the U.S.A. of all-natural U.S. sourced ingredients... and it cleans your dogs' teeth as they chew. Merrick Flossies Spiral Chews are a great choice for a high-protein, digestible, long-lasting bully stick. Their unique textured spiral shape cleans the tartar from your dogs' teeth as they chew. Not only will your dogs get a tasty savory treat, every time they chew they'll be improving their breath and cleaning their teeth and gums.

I highly recommend Merrick Flossies Spiral Chews for dogs of all ages. It is the only bully stick I know of that is made in the U.S.A. from American cattle. These bully sticks are loved by dogs for their taste and loved by dog owners for their dental benefits.

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