Trick or Treat: The Spookiest Ingredients Found On Pet Store Shelves

Whether you’re a life-long pet owner or just bringing home a pup for the first time, the  festive, seasonal treats that hit your the shelves this time of year can be hard for any doting pet owner to resist. 

And, while most responsible owners are aware of the common human ingredients to keep their dogs away from (like chocolate and alcohol), it may come as a surprise that the most harmful ingredients can be found front-and-center on the shelves of your most trusted pet store.

No bones about it – many pet toys and products can be filled with all sorts of spooky ingredients, which, if you’re not careful, can be extremely dangerous for your pet. Thankfully, we have you covered with a list of the most common tricks lurking on the shelves in the pet store, along with our suggested treats to swap them for to keep your pets safe and happy heading into the holiday season. 

Trick: Rawhide

Believe it or not, rawhide, although a common chewable favorite, is far from safe for fido. Not only does rawhide pose a choking hazard, but it’s also coated with toxic chemicals that can cause detrimental health effects for your dog.

Because rawhide is exactly what its name indicates – the hide from an animal – pet treat manufacturers need to transform it into a sellable product for stores, meaning it undergoes chemical processing, bleaching, and other forms of “cleaning” before being loaded up with flavors to appease your pup’s pallet.

In small doses, consuming rawhide can cause diarrhea and stomach pains. However, dogs that consume larger amounts of this indigestible “treat” can experience more serious, and even life-threatening, digestive problems. 

Treat: Nylabones

Vets recommend Nylabones as a rawhide alternative. They’re gentle on the gums and teeth, and, while they’re designed for chewing and not for eating, they are made with all-natural ingredients that are safe if your pet ingests them.

Trick: Artificially Colored Treats

The holidays especially are a time when brightly colored, seasonal treats hit the shelves. However, most of these treats are packed with harmful, artificial dyes, like Yellow #5 and Red 40, which contain cancer-causing contaminants that have been linked to brain tumors and cell damage. Additionally, while they seem all in good fun, dogs have dichromatic vision, meaning these bright colored treats do nothing more than to simply appease the human eye.

Treat: Naturally Dyed Treats

In exchange for artificially dyed cookies, opt for dog treats that use natural ingredients for their colored treats, like beets for reds, carrots for orange, and blueberries for blues and purples. These natural dyes still add a fun pop of color, just without any toxic chemicals. 

Trick: Actual Animal Bones

While your dog may find pet store favorites like dried pig ears and giant animal bones irresistible, they can cause more harm than good. Along with high fat content that can cause pancreatitis, hard animal bones can chip a dog’s teeth and require costly dental work.

Treat: Rubber Kongs

To help satisfy your dog’s instinctual need to chew, swap the hard animal bones for a rubber Kong filled with a pet-friendly treat, like peanut butter or pieces of kibble. They’re not only a safer alternative, but also easier on a dog’s stomach and smile.

As cute as the festive treats can be this time of year, it’s important to stay away from tricky ingredients that can put your dog’s health and safety at risk. If your pet has ingested something on this list and is showing signs of sickness or distress, it’s advised to contact your vet immediately. 

Happy howl-ween to you and your pup-kins!

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