Though the FDA’s most recent response to these unsolved “mystery illnesses” includes a statement that pet treats are not a necessary part of a fully balanced diet, pet nutrition expert Anthony Bennie disagrees. He wants pet guardians to know that dogs and cats accustomed to between meal snacks can suffer if these are withdrawn, and that the right treats can contribute important nutrients to pets’ diets between meals (1).
Besides the nutritional considerations, Bennie says that sharing treats is a key part of the emotional and social bonding between humans and pets. Treats are also very valuable for training family pets and for working dogs such as service and assistance dogs, police and military dogs, and those that compete in shows and athletics.
Now that the spirit of holiday celebration and gift giving fills the air, it’s important to make smart and healthy decisions when stuffing those stockings by the fireplace or planning a holiday feast in a household that includes dogs or cats. But if pet guardians learn how to read labels with a sharper eye, they can feel more confident about what they give their own animals and make good choices when giving treat gifts to other lucky pooches and kitties on their Santa lists.
“Pets are a big part of the family, so of course we want to share the spirit and give them something extra special during the holiday season,” explains Bennie, who has over 20 years of experience in the natural pet food industry and is the founder of the multi-award winning pet nutrition company Clear Conscience Pet. “Pet-loving families can choose among many USA made and sourced pet treats from ethical companies that offer safe and nutritious products. And with a little research, one can make homemade treats from scratch, or mix the best of both ideas by preparing ‘hybrid’ snacks that combine store-bought treats with healthy ingredients to make homemade natural pet snacks. The great news is, there are a lot of options if one learns a bit and uses common sense.”
Safe and Healthy Pet Treating Tips
Buying pet treats made and sourced in the USA is a good start, but Bennie also urges pet owners to become “pet food label detectives” and avoid products with ingredients like glycerin, propylene glycol, chemical preservatives, and artificial colors. “A good rule of thumb is, if you can’t pronounce the ingredient or don’t recognize it as food, you should avoid it. Look for grain-free food and treats with high meat content that are low in carbohydrates.” He recommends shopping at independent specialty pet food retailers that can recommend pet food and treat brands that have earned a reputation for reliably high quality and wholesome ingredients.
Clear Conscience Pet, a seven-time nutrition award winning company, has developed unique products that are perfect treats or gifts for pets this holiday season, including:
Sliders®: The Sliders® line of tender meat treats are 100% USA made and sourced, and features all-natural and wholesome ingredients like USDA inspected chicken and beef along with natural cheddar cheese, organic flaxseed, and air dried vegetables. Sliders® contain no grain, gluten, glycerin, artificial preservatives or flavoring, and no GMO ingredients. These ingredients are so wholesome and delicious, pet owners might feel tempted to try these treats themselves, as Founder Bennie did on Fox 5 News Las Vegas recently, much to the surprise of the anchorman.
CruncherzTM are artisan quality organic dog biscuits with a major health advantage- they are grain-free and gluten-free. This makes them an excellent choice for dog with allergies or sensitive stomachs. All Cruncherz™ are made with organic buckwheat flour, which despite the name is not a form of wheat, it comes from a berry. They are a healthier alternative to fancy dog cookies made from wheat flour that are sold in glass cases with icings and designed to appeal to humans, not for their nutritional suitability for dogs. Cruncherz™ contain organic ingredients like, canola oil, ginger, chamomile, pumpkin, blueberries and cold-ocean kelp. They are available in three recipes: Ginger Yaps™, Pumpkin Patch™, and Peace Berry™.
Home Made Pet Treats
Since the holidays are a time when home cooking and baking are in high gear, pet guardians may choose to also make homemade treats for their dogs or cats. When making treats, it’s important to steer clear of foods that are actually dangerous to pets. Stay away from concentrated fat trimmings, which may lead to pancreatitis; bones not prepared properly for dogs that can split and cause pets throat or digestive tract trauma; and grapes, raisins, chocolate, alcoholic beverages, and coffee, which are all toxic to dogs and cats.
SuperGravy® is Clear Conscience Pet’s award-winning holistic dry gravy mix for pets. Besides its use as a daily food topper that makes dry pet foods tastier, healthier, and more digestible, the product also works perfectly as a base for several nutritious dog and cat treat recipes. Simple treats made using SuperGravy® will get tails wagging and chops licking this holiday season.
One of the recipes is “SuperCoat,” an easy mix that can be used with a wide variety of foods and which forms a coating on meats or veggies when baked. Both dogs and cats can be “tricked” into eating low calorie healthy veggies when they are enrobed with SuperCoat. The name has a double meaning, since with ingredients like eggs, flaxseed, chia, and yogurt, the blend is good for dogs’ and cats’ coats.The SuperCoat recipe can be accessed online here: SuperGravy® Easy Treat Recipes