Why Some Dog Treats Are Actually Poisonous For Your Dog

It’s not common for most pet parents to imagine, while visiting a pet store, that what they are buying may be harmful to their dog. With widely propagated quality assurances, it gets even difficult to discern the bad from the good. Most dog treats are safe for your dog, even if they are not the healthiest options. But some dog treats are poisonous and should be simply avoided.

The emergence of the industrial revolution and the slow migration of people from rural areas to urbanized spaces have also led to a change in the lives of pets. Their diet has shifted from natural and home-made food to packaged, processed and bulk foods. This has, in turn, resulted in a range of health problems in our canine companions.

Sometimes attractive packaging can mislead you into believing that certain dog treats are healthy and wholesome. But that’s most often not the case. The best way to know which dog treats are bad for your dog is by keeping an eye on the ingredients list. That’s a section which can never lie to you. Every dog food should contain certain essential elements to provide the required nutritional value.

The presence of poisonous ingredients in pet food is not new. In 2007, more than 150 brands of dog treats and canned dog food were found to be contaminated with melamine, a harmful industrial chemical, to boost their protein content. As a result of consuming this food, around 8,500 animals, among whom about 2,200 were dogs, died. With the intervention of the Food and Drug Administration, the products were then recalled.

Common Dog Treats That Are Harmful To Dogs

It’s a proven fact that cooked and processed foods have an adverse effect on dogs since they age faster and become prone to degenerative diseases. A study carried out over a 5-year period (1998-2002) on more than 500 dogs established how dogs who fed on a natural and healthy diet had a life expectancy increased by about 3 years as compared to those who were fed commercial or packaged food.


Rawhide isn’t a foreign name for pet parents. In fact, it’s quite a common treat offered to dogs. However, it’s one of the most harmful treats you can give your dog. Although they help your dog in chewing, they also cause irreparable damage to your dog’s health.

Rawhides are basically by-products of the leather industry. They are made from the inner hide of animals such as cows, pigs, sheep, horses etc. The process of manufacturing them is enough to make you reconsider feeding them to your dog.

The meat for rawhides is obtained by skinning the hide from dead animals. The hides first travel from the slaughterhouses to the tanneries to be processed. Here they are treated with chemicals to prevent any spoilage. Next, the hair and fat are separated by treating them with an ash-lye or sodium-sulfide liming solution. Subsequently, they go through a chemical cleaning process. A hydrogen peroxide solution or bleach is used to clean them and diminish the obnoxious smell of leather. To make them look attractive, they are further painted with dyes, flavors (titanium oxide) and preservatives (sodium benzoate) which are carcinogenic. Lastly, to hold it all together, glues such as lead, arsenic or mercury are used followed by packaging and shipping.

There are several risks to feeding your dog rawhide:

  • Contamination – The manufacturing process of rawhide involve several toxic chemicals. The combination of harmful elements like hydrogen peroxide, lead, arsenic, and formaldehyde cause risks of Salmonella or E.coli contamination.
  • Irritation – Dogs who are allergic to rawhide in general or to a certain ingredient used to manufacture them in particular, have chances of getting infected with diarrhea or other digestive problems.
  • Choking – The biggest health risk with rawhides is choking or obstruction. While chewing on a rawhide, your dog can easily swallow a big chunk of it which can get stuck in the esophagus. While some blockages can be removed with the intervention of a vet, some require abdominal surgery. In cases where the blockages can’t be removed, they can cause death.  
  • Lack of labeling – Being excesses of the leather industry, rawhides are not considered as food and hence are not labeled. So it comes to your discretion whether you want to feed your dog something which is not even considered to be food.
  • Cannibalism – A report revealed that the skin from slaughtered dogs was used to manufacture rawhide. This should be reason enough for you to keep your dogs away from rawhide.

If you want your dog to remain in the habit of chewing, then you can choose other healthier options to rawhides. For example, opting for some healthy, natural dog dental chews can help improve their dental health.


Kibble is probably the most popular dog food ever. It’s a bowl of grounded and mixed ingredients such as meats, grains, vegetables shaped into pellets. It’s a processed, dry dog food that is a favorite among dogs. However, that doesn’t ensure that they are healthy.

Kibble, apart from using low-quality ingredients can also be a source of several toxins for your dog such as aflatoxins, heterocyclic amines acrylamides, and PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers).

  • Aflatoxins – Aflatoxins are carcinogenic formations that occur when molds affect grains such as corn and legumes due to poor growth and storage conditions. Aflatoxins, even in little quantities, can lead to severe problems in your dog such as anemia, liver or kidney failure, cancer, and death.
  • Heterocyclic Amines – Cooking meat and fish can produce carcinogenic heterocyclic amines. Several tests conducted on some commercial pet food have revealed the presence of these carcinogenic substances in most of them.
  • Acrylamides – Acrylamides have been declared a possible carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO). They are mostly produced when vegetable foods are heated at a high temperature. The lack of moisture fosters their growth. Most kibbles have a low moisture content hence the chances of them containing acrylamides are higher.
  • PBDEs (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers) – These chemicals are mostly used as flame retardants and are extremely toxic. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology revealed that dog food contained a higher percentage of PBDEs than human food. Moreover, these chemicals were introduced at the processing stage and not from the ingredients.

Since most of the kibble is cooked, the nutritional value of these food diminishes considerably. This low nutritional value is then substituted by synthetic chemicals, flavorings, and preservatives. A good substitute to kibble can be natural dog treats that are devoid of preservatives.

It’s extremely important to be alert about the food that you offer to your dogs. Dogs definitely deserve better food and a little awareness of their diet can create a huge difference in their health.

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