One of my biggest pet peeves since opening our business has been this statement. Sure, you absolutely CAN go and purchase those, but how might they be affecting your pet's overall health? Let’s explore the ingredients in a Milkbone treat.
This image was pulled directly from chewy.com
Ground Whole Wheat
Meat and Bone Meal
(I am stopping at salt because in pet food, anything listed in the ingredients section AFTER salt composes less than 1% of that formula).
Right off the bat, we see “wheat” products listed twice. Why do companies do this? This is what we call ingredient splitting— the pet food company is listing ”wheat” twice because they are required to list ingredients in order of weight in the formula. By listing this twice, it seems like there is less wheat in the product than there really is. This is especially common in proteins being listed on ingredient labels. Take a quick look at your pet‘s food bag. How many different ways do they state the same ingredient? On top of this, wheat is one of the most often genetically modified crops in the world. Scientists are constantly altering the DNA of wheat to make it last longer after harvest, deter pests during growth, or to overall increase production. Why would we want to feed our dogs something that isn’t even the same grain our grandparents once ate? Furthermore, there are no established minimum or maximum guidelines for carbohydrate consumption. This often leads to dogs being overfed carbohydrates, which can lead to obesity and gastrointestinal problems. On top of that, wheat is one of the most common canine allergens. There are plenty of alternatives to using wheat in dog food and treats (like almond flour or the oat flour in our treats), yet many mass-produced treats tend to use this ingredient anyway.
The next ingredient is “meat and bone meal”. Although it sounds innocuous on the surface, this phrase turns my stomach. Generic meat and bone meal does not have any specific protein source; this means that any piece of meat or bone that is lying around in the factory can satisfy this category of ingredient. I'm sure you've seen the high quality meats and bones we see at the grocery store and local butchers, yet those are not what is being turned into meat and bone meal. Profit is the bottom line, so quantity is favored over quality. Consequently, when slaughtered animals are being processed, any and all cuts that are possibly safe for human consumption are separated from the rest of the carcass: tumors, spoiled/strange looking pieces, and excess fat are all removed. The cleaned piece of meat then gets a one way ticket to another factory set up for human food processing and will eventually be what you see at your local grocery store. However, everything that was just removed from that piece, because it jeopardizes the safety of the human meat product, gets shipped out to a second factory for further processing— a pet food manufacturing facility. There, they get combined with other not-for-human-consumption animal carcasses, including but not limited to euthanized pets, roadkill, and/or dead zoo animals. All of this gets combined in a pot, heated to extremely hot temperatures, ground up, and dried out into what is now labeled as “meat and bone meal”. The quality of meat they would get from a prey animal in the wild would vastly outcompete all of these low-nutrition, highly processed scraps. Try feeding your dog pure liver, heart, and meat fit for human consumption, and the difference in their enjoyment is palpable.
Milk, the next ingredient, is not as concerning as the ones previously mentioned, but it’s also not necessary nutritionally and can elicit gastrointestinal distress. Not all pets can digest lactose either, so why risk the possible pain if you don’t have to?
Next on the list is beef fat. The fat of an animal is where bioplastics and other toxins that can’t be detoxified by the liver are stored. Also, straight fat… in a treat… not too sure about everyone else, but I personally cut around the fat when feeding my dog a piece of meat. Fats are of course necessary for the diets of all living things, but there are good fats you can include in their diet in more purposeful and healthy ways. For an everyday feeding or training treat, why not choose something simple and low in fat instead, so it won't build up in their system?
Finally salt. Most dogs are already on a dry dog food, which is likely to cause dehydration in dogs. Why would you want to have salt, which is known to take moisture from the body and cause even further dehydration, in your pet treats? Who makes these decisions and accepts it as OK? We assure you that your dog won't mind if their food is under-seasoned, especially when the quality of ingredients is all there!
So, yes, you can grab a box of milkbones for cheaper, but are they giving you the same benefits? Or are they causing even more harm without you even knowing? There may be no immediate problems for some dogs who are used to them, but daily intake of poor ingredients can build up and exacerbate health problems long term for many.
I will finish with saying as well, our brand is made for education. We want to set up your pets for the best success, even if that doesn’t include purchasing our treats. We are constantly offering resources and alternatives to use that your pet will not only love, but will also provide them with many more nutritional benefits. Even if you’re not interested in purchasing our treats, consider sparking up a conversation when you see us in the community or while you’re passing by the store. Our goal is to help pet parents improve their pets health and quality of life FIRST and FOREMOST. If you like us enough to buy our treats, great! But if it‘s not in your means, or you’re just not interested, we are happy to discuss other options you can seek out or even work on developing a treat for your dog to be as healthy as possible!. Let’s all aim to do better overall for our furry best friends ❤️🐾