8 common dog treats that are bad for your dog

Food and treat packaging can be very attractive, drawing your attention and making you think that they are natural and wholesome. But the truth lies in the ingredients list (well, at least what companies are legally required to declare.

The documentary, Pet Fooled shines the light on the pet food industry and uncovers some scary truths behind what really goes into our dog’s food. Any responsible dog owner should make time to watch it.

In this post, we thought it would be good to share our thoughts on some of the widely available dog treats on the market.  Unlike us, dogs can’t choose their treats so it’s up to us to make discerning decisions on their behalf. What’s more, many dogs consume the same treats every day and their effects on those tiny bodies could gradually add up.

If it doesn’t take much effort and cost, why not choose safer and healthier treats for your dog?

Why are these common dog treats bad dog treats?

The products’ ingredients lists presented here are taken from their official website or actual treat packaging. They are updated as of the post’s published date.

1. Raw hide from any source

Raw Hide for Dogs

Rawhide is a super popular form of chew for dogs. But what is it really?

Raw hide is basically the inner soft layer of an animal. It most commonly comes from cows.

Before it’s pressed into different shapes, it is chemically preserved and cleaned.  Some raw hides come with artificial flavourings to make them more appealing to dogs.

Not only can raw hides cause choking and digestive obstruction, they may be contaminated with toxic chemicals. Feed at your dog’s risk.

Do note that besides the whole raw hide we usually see, there are meat treats on the market that contain raw hide.

Alternatives: Natural recreational bones, such as antler. Please monitor your dog whenever you feed a bone or chew toy.

2. JerHigh (Beef)

jerhigh beef stick


Beef, chicken meat, wheat flour, glycerine, sugar, tapioca starch, wheat gluten, lecithin, cellulose, fish marine extract, beef flavor, salt, Sodium tripolyphosphate, preservative, Vitamin E, colorant.

These treats contain wheat flour, preservatives, colouring, flavouring, salt, and sugar – everything we don’t want in our dog’s food and treats. They are unnecessary and unhealthy, and it’s not clear exactly what are the preservatives, flavourings, and colourings.

Alternatives: DIY dehydrated meat slices, single ingredient freeze-dried or dehydrated meat.

3. Pedigree Dentastix



Flours (maize, wheat), glycerine, maize gluten, gum, poultry liver powder (natural poultry flavour), sodium tripolyphosphate, fibre, calcium carbonate, gelatin, potassium chloride, preservative, flavour, zinc sulphate

These dental chews are advertised to be great for your dog’s teeth. Even if it really helps clean teeth, it has a bad reputation for making dogs sick. Just Google it! There are many ingredients in the list, such as flours, by-product, additive, preservative, flavouring, and salt that are no good or pose no benefit to dogs.

Avoid similar products like Whimzees and Greenies.

Alternatives: Brush your dog’s teeth daily and offer raw meaty bones or natural recreational bones.

4. Healthy Centres Dog Treats (Salmon)

Healthy Centres Salmon Flavour Treats


Wheat flour, canola oil, corn starch, hydrolysed poultry protein, natural flavouring, salt, ascorbyl palmitate, colourant, salmon flavour, rosemary extract oil, Vitamin E (RRR alpha tocopherol), Vitamin D3, Vitamin A.

These treats look really healthy, don’t they? The website says that Healthy Centres is formulated to enhance your pet’s well-being. But there’s nothing in the ingredients list that suggests so.

First of all, surprise, surprise, there’s no real salmon in this packet of treats. It contains salt, flavouring, and additive ascorbyl palmitate for taste. Hydrolysed poultry protein could be from real meat or by-product (leftover carcasses that are unfit for human consumption) but we will

never know. There are also wheat flour and corn starch that can cause weight gain.

Alternatives: Freeze-dried single ingredient salmon and DIY dehydrated fish.

5. Harringtons Low Fat Treats (Turkey)


Turkey meal (26%), potato, glycerine, seaweed, oat flour, minerals, cellulose, fruto-oligosacharide, glucosamine HCI, chondroitin sulphate

Additives (per Kg): Vitamin A 10,000iu, Vitamin D3 1,000 iu, Vitamin E (alpha tocopherol acetate) 60 mg, zinc sulphate 5 mg, calcium iodate 1.0 mg, sodium selenite 0.15 mg, antioxidants (d-mixed tocopherols 500mg), preservatives

The packet says that there is nothing nasty about this dog treat. But the treat is made up of 26% turkey meal – rendered leftover meat waste. Potato is listed as the second ingredient, which is fine, but too much of it can cause obesity. This treat also contains a controversial ingredient, sodium selenite, and preservatives.

Alternatives: DIY dehydrated meat slices, single ingredient freeze-dried or dehydrated meat.

6. Beggin’ Strips

Beggin Bacon Strips


Ground wheat, corn gluten meal, wheat flour, water, glycerin, ground yellow corn, sugar, soybean meal, bacon (preserved with sodium nitrite), salt, bacon fat (preserved with BHA and citric acid), phosphoric acid, sorbic acid (a preservative), calcium propionate (a preservative), natural and artificial smoke flavours, red 40, yellow 5, blue 1, yellow 6, added colour T-4005

There are many things that are wrong with these treats. Firstly, bacon is bad for humans and they are bad for dogs. But let’s put that aside for now and see whether you are buying what the packaging appears to promise. The crispy bacon you see on the packaging? Nowhere near the first few ingredients. Instead, you find ingredients that could make your dog fat and diabetic.

At the ninth ingredient, you finally find bacon, which we all know is preserved with sodium nitrite, an ingredient that is carcinogenic. Then you have salt and bacon fat that’s preserved with BHA, a cancer-causing agent. Just don’t buy bacon or anything bacon-flavoured for your dog.

Food colourings are also in the list – totally unnecessary and harmful.

Alternatives: Single ingredient dehydrated or freeze-dried treats.

7. SmartBones Rawhide-free Chicken Mini Dog Chews

SmartBones Rawhide-free Chicken Dog Chews


Corn, chicken, sorbitol, glycerin, fructose, pork gelatin, barley malt syrup, maltodextrin, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, dicalcium phosphate, salt, ferrous sulfate, titanium dioxide, zinc sulfate, artificial flavour, niacinamide, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate (preservative), sodium pyrophosphate, sodium propionate (preservative), sodium tripolyphosphate, Vitamin E, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, thiamine hydrochloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, manganese sulfate, Vitamin B12 supplement, fd&c red 40. 

SmartBones were created as a substitute of the dangerous raw hide. But is it any good? The ingredients list says no. It contains a whole lot of unnecessary and potentially harmful ingredients, including a controversial additive, maltodextrin, artificial flavouring, fd&c red 40 colouring and fattening carbohydrates.

Alternatives: Natural recreational bones, such as antler.

8. Wagg Tasty Bones

Wagg Tasty Bones


Wheat, poultry meal (4% chicken), glycerine, liver digest (4% liver), fat, minerals, whey powder.

These well-packaged treats contain low-quality ingredients. “Chicken” really means rendered leftovers. Why would you pay good money for substandard treats?

Alternatives: Dehydrated or freeze-dried meats.

What else to look out for

Sometimes companies aren’t that honest with what they put on the ingredients list. If you see vague descriptions of ingredients, that’s a sign to put the treat back where it belongs.

Also, see where the treats are manufactured and packaged. For example, most people would consider treats made in Singapore, New Zealand, and the United States to be better than treats made in China. Licensed local bakeriesthat use healthier human-grade ingredients could be an excellent alternative to commercial treats.

Lastly, it is, of course, the best if the ingredients are human-grade, organic, and free-range.


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