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Harmful Ingredients Commonly Found in Dog Treats

by Alexa Lehr | 03.11.2022
Harmful Ingredients Commonly Found in Dog Treats


The treats we give our pets are just as much a part of their daily diet as snacks and sweets are in our diet. Choosing healthy treats for our dogs is essential to their health and well-being. However, you may find yourself in the treat aisle wondering which treats are safe and which ones aren’t. It can be tough to navigate if you’re not sure what to look for among the ingredients. We’ve outlined some of the most common harmful ingredients to avoid when choosing a dog treat. Learn about each of these potentially dangerous ingredients so you can make healthy choices for your pup!


#1. Synthetic Preservatives

Synthetic preservatives are often added to extend the shelf life of treats and used to save the manufacturers money. Many synthetic preservatives are considered carcinogens, which are dangerous to the health of your dog. In fact, some of the preservatives used in dog treats have been banned for human consumption, but they are used for our pets’ treats!

A few health-related issues that have been linked to synthetic preservatives in dog treats include liver damage, cancer, cell damage, damage to the circulatory and nervous systems, and even poisoning. Due to the unnatural compounds of the synthetic preservatives, those ingredients can also cause digestive upset, inflammation, diarrhea, and result in food allergies for our pets. Be on the lookout for these common synthetic preservatives found in dog treats:

#2. Filler Ingredients

Filler ingredients are cheap ingredients that are put into dog treats to ‘bulk up’ the treats without adding other, more nutritious ingredients that are more expensive for companies to use. The cheap filler ingredients provide no nutritional value to our pets and are not a natural part of a dog’s diet. Given that dogs aren’t supposed to consume these filler ingredients, consumption of them can lead to bloat, food allergies, digestive problems, and diarrhea. Here are some filler ingredients to be on the lookout for:


#3. Refined and Artificial Sugar

Refined sugars and artificial sweeteners are added to dog treats to make them more appealing for dogs. However, refined sugar is not a natural or healthy part of a dog’s diet. Sugar can induce the same addictive properties in dogs as it does in humans. Unfortunately, many treats include sugar and can cause our fluffy ones to want more sugar-filled treats. This can quickly lead to obesity if left unchecked.

The sugar in dog treats adds extra calories that are not needed for nutritional value. Sugar has also been linked to problems with diabetes and dental issues. Here are some common sugars to avoid in dog treats: 


#4. Animal Byproducts

Animal byproducts are funky filler ingredients added to dog treats to save money on producing the treats. Animal byproducts are exactly what they sound like: any leftovers collected after slaughtering an animal. However, the animal byproducts used in dog treats are not just limited to animals slaughtered for human consumption. The byproducts of euthanized animals and diseased animals can also be put into dog treats.

Animal byproducts can range from the leftover digest of an animal’s stomach to all the inedible portions of an animal like hooves, beaks, and feathers. As you can imagine, these ingredients have no nutritional value for a dog and can spread disease to our pets. Byproducts like hooves and beaks are practically indigestible for our dogs, which can lead to digestive upset and other digestive issues too.


#5. Other Ingredients to Avoid

While synthetic ingredients, filler ingredients, sugar, and byproduct ingredients are some of the big no-no's to avoid in pet treats, there are also some other sneaky ingredients to be on the lookout for. These ingredients often sneak in near the end of the ingredient list on a dog treat bag, but they are still just as harmful for our pets!

Artificial Dyes- Artificial dyes are added to dog treats to make them more visually appealing for pet owners to buy. Ever wonder why dog treats look so colorful and fun? Dog treat companies knew that brown lumps of meat wouldn’t look too appealing, so they use food dyes to make their treats appear fun and enticing for us to buy for our pets! However, those food dyes are not natural for dogs to consume. Artificial dyes provide no nutritional value to a dog treat and are simply included to add color to the treat. As fun as colorful treats may look, they are not healthy for our pets and certain artificial colors have been linked to hyperactivity and cancer in dogs.

Carrageenan- Carrageenan is an ingredient used to keep dog treats moist and appealing. While that may not sound like a bad thing, carrageenan has been linked to cancer and inflammation in canines. Carrageenan is derived from a species of red seaweed, and while it is edible, it has no nutritional value and can cause digestive upset.

Excess Sodium- Just like excess sodium is not healthy in our diets, it’s not healthy in our pets' diets either. Salt is often included in excess quantities in dog treats to enhance the flavor of the treats. While some sodium is not bad for dogs, a diet high in salt can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and increased chance of strokes. A well-formulated dog food should contain all the salt your pet needs- they don’t need extra doses the treats they eat[2].

 german shepherd dog in grass

How to Find Clean Treats

At Grubbly Farms, we wanted a way to treat our pets with a snack that was not only free from any harmful ingredients, but also crafted to help them thrive. That’s why we created Vroomies, our hypoallergenic soft chew dog snack. With Grubbly’s wholesome pet-approved recipes, you can provide your pups with delicious, healthy food baked in the USA with all natural ingredients.

Rather than using an unsustainable source of protein that may contain byproducts or synthetic ingredients that can cause upset stomachs, Vroomies are made with grubs, an insect-based protein* that is naturally harvested. Perfect for dogs with food allergies!

Plus, you don’t need to worry about hidden ingredients. No fillers, artificial dyes, or unhealthy additives—just nutritious ingredients that are a natural part of a dog’s diet.




Alexa Lehr

Alexa Lehr

Alexa grew up raising, showing, and caring for poultry. Her passion for poultry grew into her current small farm business, the Black Feather Farm, where she breeds rare and heritage chicken breeds. She uses her vast experience to improve the lives of chickens and educate Grubbly readers as well as readers on her own blog, The Pioneer Chicks.

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