Dog Treats That are Bad for Dogs

There is so much focus today on the quality of ingredients in the food we serve our canine companions. We pour over ingredients in the food aisles to assure that the nutrients are of a quality that rivals human consumption. We search the web to find the best authorities on the subject. But what are the dog treats bad for dogs? Just like their daily food, treats affect our dog’s general health and wellness. In this article, we look at the bad dog treats, and what and why we should steer clear. First, a list of dangerous compounds in treats to steer from and then a review of the types of treats on the market.

dog treats bad for dogs

What Are Bad Ingredients in Dog Treats?

  • BHA (Butylated Hydroxy anisole)
  • BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
  • Corn Gluten
  • Ethoxyquin
  • Food Dyes (4-MIE, Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6)
  • Grain Meal
  • Grain By-products
  • Meat Meal
  • Meat By-products
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Rendered Fat
  • Soy
  • Wheat Gluten

Are Rawhide Treats Bad for Dogs?

Rawhide is a popular treat for dogs because it has been touted as a natural chew item. Let’s face it, a puppy’s natural impulse to chew, well everything, does not stop when he reaches maturity. A dog instinctively chews for a number of reasons: to maintain strong jaw muscles; clean teeth; freshen breath; and provide stimulation that reduces stress and anxiety. So, advocates embrace rawhide as a beneficial chew treat. But risks associated with rawhide are extreme and should be studied.

Rawhide is made from the inside of cow and horse hides. During the processing, the hide is chemically cleaned, cut, refined, then pressed into chewable sizes, oftentimes with flavored additives. So, is hide safe to consume? We sought the expertise of two sources concerning a canine’s instinct for rawhide within its natural environment. That research was a bit debated. The International Wolf Center says that a wolf will typically not eat its prey hide. Wolves & Moose of Isle Royale, which is touted as the longest continuous study of the predator-prey structure anywhere in the world, did a 15-year study on the prey consumption habits of the gray wolf. Their research uncovered that the wolf will typically eat the hide. So, presuming that rawhide is sustainable, we must ask, "commercial rawhide dog treats bad?" The following findings were made.

  1. Rawhide is not regulated by the FDA. Rawhide is not regulated because it is not considered a food source for a dog. There has been significant research and investigations into the harmful feed additives, antibiotics, and inoculations during the raising of commercial livestock. The production cleaning and processing of the animal hide may utilize dangerous chemicals. All these toxins will imbed in the hide and, in turn, remain contained in the rawhide dog treat. One study found dangerous levels of lead in dog rawhide, especially rawhide manufactured in China and India. High levels of lead and other heavy metals are potentially fatal to your dog.
  1. Rawhide can contain toxic bacterial contamination. Bacterial contaminants, such as Salmonella and E. coli, have been discovered in rawhide. Whatever bacteria is contained in the rawhide is ingested by your dog and have dangerous health effects.
  1. Rawhide can cause digestive sensitivity. Dogs can have allergies to either the rawhide or the chemical substances used during the manufacture of the product. Those chemicals are ingested. In addition, large chunks of rawhide sitting in the gut leads to digestive distress.
  1. Rawhide can cause digestive blockage. Rawhide expands in the gut. A large mass in your dog’s gut can be uncomfortable at the least, and cause obstructive blockage in its most extreme cases. Obstruction in the digestive tract is potentially fatal to your dog.
  1. Rawhide can cause choking. Swallowing large chunks of rawhide can become lodged in the dog’s esophagus.

Complications from Rawhide

  • Choking and Gagging
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Weight Loss

People jest that when rawhide goes in one end it will eventually come out the other. The truth is that rawhide poses risks to your dog beyond simple witticism. Ultimately, rawhide dog treats good or bad, should not be given to your dog without direct supervision.

Are Jerky Treats Bad for Dogs?

Veterinarians state there is quality dog jerky on the market. However, veterinarians are quick to warn an owner to feed only high quality dog jerky. The FDA issued a 2011 bulletin warning during a national panic for chicken, duck, and sweet potato dog jerky, linked to product from China and other overseas countries.

The number one culprit for dogs is jerky’s high sodium content. Small levels of salt are not necessarily bad for a dog, salt being a necessary component to maintain its health. However, high levels of salt in a dog’s diet can lead to sodium poisoning and symptoms that can be fatal.

Symptoms of sodium poisoning:

  • Coma
  • Diminished Appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Edema
  • Elevated Heart Rate
  • Excessive Thirst
  • Excessive Urination
  • Uncoordination
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

Veterinarians embrace natural dog jerky as a healthy treat for your dog. When choosing dog jerky, make sure it is naturally dehydrated and from a single protein source. Veterinarians recommend that jerky be made without added preservatives, salt, and spices. Look at DogDeli Natural Air-Dried Jerky.

Are Milk Bone Treats Bad for Dogs?

Milk bones have been touted for years as an essential treat to maintain a dog’s healthy teeth. As a result, milk bones have become a national standard dog treat. But most owners don’t know that commercial milk bones often contain high levels of unhealthy ingredients like sugar, wheat, and BHA.

Sugar in Milk Bone Treats

According to a study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 53.9% of dogs in the US are overweight. Sugar is enticing to dogs. So, manufacturers have added this sweetener to entice a dog’s preference. Sugar impacts the health and welfare of dogs as it does humans. Not only does sugar cause dog obesity, it can lead to high blood sugar, dental ailments and cardiovascular disease.

BHA in Milk Bone Treats

BHA is a powerful anti-oxidant used in food fat preservation. Studies in mice have found it to be carcinogenic. The FDA states that BHA is safe in low amounts, However, The Department of Health and Human Services through its National Toxicology Program cautions that BHA may be a carcinogen. The National Institute of Health determined laboratory studies consistently link BHA to tumors in mice. The State of California has included BHA on a listing of compounds found to cause cancer.

Wheat in Milk Bone Treats

Most milk bones contain wheat as a primary ingredient. Wheat is an inexpensive filler added to many dog treats. However, wheat is very difficult for a dog to digest.

Are Cat Treats Bad for Dogs?

Cat treats are not, in themselves, unsafe or toxic to your dog. However, the nutrient component in a cat treat is specific to the needs of a feline not a canine. Cats are a carnivorous species of animal. Therefore, their digestive system and nutritional requirements are designed for the high protein diet inherent to a carnivore. Alternatively, the omnivore canine requires less protein and more healthy influx of carbohydrates and fats.

Too much protein can cause diarrhea, excessive gas, and obesity in a dog. Veterinary reports link more serious complications to excess protein, such as allergies, skin conditions, ear infections, unhealthy coat, and organ damage. For these reasons, cat treats for a dog should be discouraged.

FDA List of Bad Dog Treats

The US Food and Drug Administration oversees the processing and distribution of animal food products. It neither endorses nor denounces a specific product. It will, however, provide notice if a dangerous connection is linked to a specific product, such as the bulletin issued in 2011 concerning dog jerky from China. The FDA has also issued specific warning bulletins on certain products inherently dangerous to dogs. The FDA list follows, with a brief synopsis of why the FDA gives the warning:

Raw meat

  • Raw meat. The FDA has indicated concerns that raw meat may contain E. coli, Salmonella, or other harmful bacteria. The bacteria can be transferred to dogs and humans in handling and ingesting the meats contaminated with the bacteria

Grapes, raisins, and currants

  • Grapes, raisins, and currants. The FDA has indicated these foods can cause kidney failure in some dogs.

Fried and fatty foods

  • Fried and fatty foods. The FDA has indicated that these foods can result in a stomachache or worse a life-threatening disorder called pancreatitis.

Moldy foods

  • Moldy foods. The FDA has indicated moldy foods as a risk to your dog. Most ingestion is accidental from the trash can or a compost pile. At least twenty varieties of mold generate dangerous mycotoxins. Small levels of mycotoxins can cause small muscle tremors and ataxia (a degenerative brain disease that affects the cerebellum area that controls coordination). I extreme symptoms, mycotoxins can cause tremors, seizures and death.

Onions, garlic, and chives (including powders)

  • Onions, garlic, and chives (including powders). The FDA warns that these alliums can be harmful to your dog. Small amounts over a long period of time can cause anemia. Large quantities at one time (.5% of total body weight) can produce Heinz body formation (damage to red blood cells) and be fatally toxic. At the least, consumption can result in weakness, listlessness, and pale mucous membrane.

Salty snacks, in large quantities

  • Salty snacks, in large quantities. The FDA warns against high levels of salty snacks. This is due to potential risk of sodium toxicity in dogs.

Macadamia Nuts

  • Macadamia Nuts. The FDA warns against your dog consuming macadamia nuts specifically. For an unknown reason “macadamia nut toxicity” affects dogs much like that of grapes and raisins. Signs of toxicity can be weakness and listlessness.


  • Xylitol. The FDA warns against the ingestion of the sugar substitute known as xylitol. Xylitol can be found in gum, candy, and peanut butter. This is because the ingestion of xylitol can cause a dog to go into hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) shock, seizures, liver failure, and possible death.

The website for Department of Health & Human Services is updated to November 2017 and can be found here:

Good and Bad Dog Treats 2019

If you do an internet search under “list of bad dog treats” you will find a plethora of articles and relevant research about unhealthy treat options for your canine companion. On the other hand, if you do an internet search under “dog treats good for dogs” you will find recommendations of healthy treats options, including DogDeli treats. So, do your research. Base your decisions on relevant and qualified research. Then check out our site at and see how our natural products compare. We’re here because we care.

The statements contained in this website have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration. The information is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure, any disease. Additionally, the information should not be followed in lieu of consultation with a qualified veterinarian professional.

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