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Food Guidelines

The Dirty Dozen: 12 Pet Treats to Avoid

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If you were making your own dog treats, using the freshest and most wholesome, healthy ingredients, would you ever consider dumping sugar into the mix?

Of course not. So why, then, do a number of the most popular dog treats on the market contain high amounts of sugar? Because dogs love it.

According to a press release from Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) and author of “Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter – A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives” (2010 HCI),

…the problem is linked to money – lots of it. With US pet treat sales estimated to be nearly $2 billion in 2010, the treat bowl has turned golden. “Sugar is incredibly attractive to dogs. If a dog gobbles a treat quickly, an owner is more likely to give another – and another.  This adds up to more sales – and profits. In the race for pet treat profits, our pets’ health is being bankrupted.”

With 45% of American dogs and 58% of cats considered overweight, an estimated 89 million pets are at high risk for developing conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure and more.

In addition to obesity, sugary treats lead to behavioral problems as well.

“Numerous studies in rats demonstrate that overfeeding sugar can create symptoms similar to drug addiction. A dog’s daily sweet treat may be contributing to overeating and other undesirable behaviors. This is why I call today’s high-sugar treats ‘kibble crack.’”

Still, pet treat manufacturers blame pet owners. They are, after all, the ones that purchase and feed the sugary treats.

So, Dr. Ward listed what he calls “The Dirty Dozen,” the 12 most popular sugary dog treats that should be avoided. Pet parents should be aware of what they’re feeding their pets, understand ingredient labels, and to avoid treats that masquerade as healthy and nutritious while silently contributing to the obesity epidemic.

His goal is to help pet parents to be more aware of what they’re feeding their pets. “Pet owners definitely have a feeding disorder when it comes to their pets. Ultimately it’s up to each owner to control how much they feed their pets. What I want to bring attention to is what ingredients are in pet treats – and why. Pet owners must begin to question why there is sugar in a treat that claims to help teeth,” he said.

Dr. Ward’s Dirty Dozen – Popular Sugary Pet Treats

Pet TreatAdded Sugar
Canine CarryOuts Chew-lottaDextrose first ingredient
Snausages SnawSomes! Beef and Chicken FlavorSugars 3 of first 4 ingredients
Pedigree Jumbone Mini Snack Food for Small DogsSugars 2 of 3 first ingredient
Petrodex Dental Treats for CatsDextrose second ingredient
Pedigree JumboneSugar third ingredient
Milk Bone Essentials Plus Oral CareSugar third ingredient
Pup-Peroni Lean Beef RecipeSugar third ingredient
Science Diet Simple Essentials Treats Training Adult Treats with Real BeefSugar third ingredient
Cesar Softies Dog TreatsSugar third ingredient
Milk-Bone Chewy Chicken DrumsticksSugar third ingredient
Meow Mix Moist Cat TreatsCorn syrup fourth ingredient
Pedigree MarroboneSugar third ingredient

Other common sugar-containing treats according to Dr. Ernie Ward:

  • Pedigree Jumbone – Sugar third ingredient
  • Beneful Snackin’ Slices – Sugar fourth ingredient
  • Pit’r Pat Fresh Breath Mint Flavored Cat Treats – Maltodextrin first ingredient
  • Three Dog Bakery Lick ‘n Crunch – Dextrose third ingredient
  • Beneful Snackin Slices – Sugar fourth ingredient
  • Busy Chewnola – Maltodextrin second ingredient
  • Exclusively Dog Vanilla Flavor Sandwich Creme Dog Cookies – Sugars first two ingredients
  • Canine Carryouts Dog Treats – Corn syrup second ingredient

For more information, visit www.PetObesityPrevention.com or www.DrErnieWard.com .

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  1. This company SMUCKER knows that MILK BONE BRUSHING CHEWS has killed too many dogs, and they continue to keep these dog bones on the shelves in supermarkets and pet stores!!!

    If the CEO MARK SMUCKER don't care about our pets, I am sure he doesn't care about our children either. Don't buy SMUCKER Penut Butter and Jelly or any other product SMUCKER makes.

    Too many dogs have gotten sick and died from SMUCKER MILK BONES!!! IT'S A DOG HOLOCAUST!!!

    MARK SMUCKER: 330-682-3000



    The COMPANY SMUCKER'S MILK BONE IS DISREGARDING CLAIMS they leave the product on the shelves knowing all our pets are getting very sick from these MILK BONE BRUSHING CHEWS!! I am posting the WARNING ABOUT THIS PRODUCT “below” on every board on the internet warning pet owners about the dangers of MILK BONE BRUSHING CHEWS!!!

    If your pets have had any pet issues after eating these MILK BONE BRUSHING CHEWS please contact the Federal Trades Commission in Washington DC!!!

    CALL: 877-382-4357 Consumer Complaint: Website: react-text: 169 FTC.Gov /react-text

    These chews have been known to cause digestive blockages and kidney and bladder stones and urinary track infections in dogs!!! Beware of the Danger!!!

    We saw the TV Commercial about the Milk Bone Brushing Chews, so we thought it was safe to give to our little girl, but we thought wrong. Pishga, got very sick after eating Milk Bone Brushing Chews, she loved them too!!! That's the danger of these Milk Bones your dog will love them, but, they will also kill them.

  2. Avatar Of Betsy Parker Betsy Parker says:

    All our treats are baked fresh. They do not contain:





    Animal By-products

    No added sweetners

  3. Its like you read my mind! You appear to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something.
    I think that you can do with a few pics to
    drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is great blog.
    An excellent read. I will certainly be back.

  4. Avatar Of Fhiha Fhiha says:

    I found your post comments while searching Google. It is very relevant information. Great work. Regularly I do not make posts on blogs, but I have to say that this posting really forced me to do so. Really awesome post. Really fantastic and I will be coming back for more information at your site and revisit it! Homemade Dog Treats.

  5. Avatar Of Żółć żółć says:

    Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads
    up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly.
    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried
    it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.

  6. Check out For Tails Only – their treats are fresh baked in the USA with simple, straightforward ingredient lists. Ingredients are all-natural, and often organic! Plus, a percentage of the company’s profits are donated to rescues every month.

  7. Avatar Of Jim



    The best treats are ZiwiPeak all natural meat treats. Air dried and no salt or sugar. Nothing artificial!! Comes in Lamb,Beef and Venison.

  8. Avatar Of Margaret



    Good to get information on bad snacks. Now can anyone come up with a list of healthy snacks to purchase? I was shocked to hear about Milkbone. Over the years they have been one of the main snacks plus carrots and romaine.

  9. Avatar Of Mark



    Guys try All natural all meat dog treats treats from Little L’s they have a website they call them Krak’ems I buy these all time because they are so healthy for my little one and best yet made in USA – New York

  10. Avatar Of Pam Pam says:

    None of my treats have sugar. Just wholesome natural goodness.

    • Avatar Of Sandra Slack

      Sandra Slack


      I make my own, that way I know exactly what is in them,and there’s not sugar, only healthy good ingredients. They depend on us to keep them healthy.

  11. Avatar Of Cathy



    Should anyone be surprised? Same thing is has been happening with human food for a long time. High fructose corn syrup is a sugar and can be found in almost everything humans consume. I mean really, do we need sugar in microwave scrambled eggs? No. Our pets don’t either.

  12. Avatar Of Cyndi



    I give my dogs carrots as treats, they love them

  13. Avatar Of Jess Jess says:

    Human grade USA made treats. No additives. Try them out for yourself as well, they taste great!

  14. Avatar Of Jacky Rosen

    Jacky Rosen


    When they’re on sale (most holidays)I buy sweet potatoes in mass and slice with a mandoline then dry them (on racks on the radiators) to keep in zip-lock bags as treets for my guinae pig. I found my dogs like them too! This makes for an inexpensive, healthy treat. They also eat them raw without dehydrating.

  15. Avatar Of Sheri Syverson

    Sheri Syverson


    Check out Dog Treat Kitchen. She has wonderful recipes for home-made dog treats. My Airedales love them. Healthy and affordable.

  16. Avatar Of Betsey Freyberger

    Betsey Freyberger


    I buy all my treats from Bears Bone Bakery. He has a Facebook page. They are all prepared here in Evansville, IN. They are great and my dogs love them!

  17. Avatar Of Kathy Takayama

    Kathy Takayama


    I have chosen to feed all of my dogs fresh veggies by steaming them. I include this in their morning meal and feed them as snacks during the day. Broccoli, Carrots, Cucumbers, Romaine Lettuce, Green Beans, Beets, Sweet Potato, Peas. As a real treat they get some cooked oats with unsweetened pure pumpkin and some plain yogurt which they absolutely LOVE. Also watching the brand of dog food that they eat making every effort to give keep them as healthy as possible. Definitely worth the time knowing that I don’t have to worry about the quality of their food and treats.

  18. Avatar Of Sandra Heptinstall

    Sandra Heptinstall


    Thanks for the tips on making my dog snacks healthy.

  19. Avatar Of Victoria Jones

    Victoria Jones


    Alpo Variety Snaps may not have sugar but they have food dye (Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1)Wheat Flour, Wheat Gluten, Soy Flour, Chicken By-Product Meal Animal Digest which is “animal by-products are what’s left of a slaughtered animal after the edible parts have been removed. They include the waste2 of meat processing not intended for human consumption.”(DogFood Advisor)
    The DogFood Advisor site gives lots of info when it comes to deciphering dogfood label.
    I haven`t tried dehydrating yet but I do buy a small bag of Origen freeze-dried dog treats (they have different varieties)to keep on hand or else I have sample bags of Origen kibble that I use as treats.

  20. Avatar Of Marsha Young

    Marsha Young


    My Min Pin died from Diabetes after I fed him Milk Bones! Broke my Heart after having him for 9.5 yrs! Vet said he was too advanced and treatment wouldnt helpso I had to put him down! Lease dont feed Your Dogs Purina Milk Bones!

    • Avatar Of Shelley Macsween

      Shelley MacSween


      What is wrong with the milk bones?I use the minis and break them in two as a treat.They say 5 calories per treat so that’s 2.5 calories per snack for him.

  21. These treats are so dangerous!! Unfortunately.there’s more then sugar to worry about. Our local business Fur Baby Bark-ery has only organic.ingredients and all of our treats are corn, soy, wheat, dairy, and grain free!! It worries me so many dog and cat owners don’t know what they are really feeding their pets. You can find us at facebook.com/furbabybarkery

  22. Avatar Of G. Brown

    G. Brown


    I make our pup’s treats as well…chicken strips, 200-225 degrees for 2-2 1/2 hours in the oven. Freeze batches, thaw 2-3 strips at a time. I break mine up for small treats for our Shichon.

    • Avatar Of Rita



      How long can the chicken jerky be kept in freezer? I don’t want to make too much and end up with freezer burned snacks!

  23. Avatar Of S. Kloss

    S. Kloss


    Just checked mine. Alpo Variety Snaps have no sugar. Yea!

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  25. Avatar Of James Yockey

    James Yockey


    I bought a food dehydrator (very reasonable, around $30), buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale, slice thinly and place in the dehydrator. Hours later I have natural and healthy dog treats without any added preservatives or chemicals. More over, without the worry of what is in them. You can substitute with Turkey, duck, or any other including veggies like sweet potatoes. It is not as time consuming as you might think and the peace of mind is more than worth it, not to mention the savings.

    • Avatar Of Stephanie



      Plus you can make delicious treats for yourself, too! Dehydrated strawberries are amazing. 🙂

    • Avatar Of Teri Lombardi

      Teri Lombardi


      What a great idea! Thank you for sharing. Now I know what I want for Xmas LOL.

      • Avatar Of Deborah Ethridge

        Deborah Ethridge


        You can also do this in your oven at a very low tempurature. Makes them for me dogs all the time.

    • Avatar Of Kf



      Now all you have to worry about is the GMOs in the chicken. It’s always something. I dry sweet potatoes in the oven. My dog let’s me know about it if I forget to give them to him at exactly 11:00 a.m. every day!!

    • Avatar Of Jess D

      Jess D


      Do you cook the chicken, duck, turkey, etc. before you dehydrate them? or does the dehydrator “cook” them as it dehydrates?

    • Avatar Of Joi



      how long do you dehydrate?

      • Avatar Of Madeline



        Length of time to dehydrate depends on a lot of factors. If I completely load up my dehydrator it takes 6-12 hours to dehydrate ~3 pounds of chicken breast (pre-cooked weight). The thickness of the chicken, ambient humidity, etc all affect the length of time. We just let it go until the pieces are dried out. We dry longer for dog jerky than human jerky since we want them as a chewable treat for our dog.

    • Avatar Of Karine



      I too gave up purchasing dog treats .. My main reason is that most of them come from China.
      I too make my own … Matter a fact – I will puchase a food dehydrator . I have 3 dogs 🙂 Thank you so much for your feedback ..
      Karine A.
      Tucson AZ.

    • Avatar Of Terry Terry says:

      Great to know. A friend is letting my try his dehydrator. Any tips?

    • Avatar Of Cathy



      A friend and I just bought a dehydrator. We will be making chicken treats for our 4 dogs! Please note: most deydrator trays will go into a dishwasher. If you use your dehydrator with meat, especially chicken, be sure it is washed well to prevent Ecoli transfer to other foods.

  26. Avatar Of Amy B

    Amy B


    Good to know. I was mainly reading the location where the snacks were made before; now I’ll be more careful to actually read the ingredient list in the store before buying. My dogs do like the Chewlottas, but I don’t buy them often. I should just start making my own treats again so I know exactly what’s in them.

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