The ideal pet treat is made from whole foods that supplement your pet’s usual diet with nutrients he or she does not normally get. Healthy pet treats are free of allergens and contain only ingredients that are appropriate for the type of animal for which they are intended. The best natural treats are those in which real foods supply the nutrients. Although raw fruits and vegetables may not always be fully digestible by carnivores, the textures and smells of these treats can be an invaluable contribution to an animal’s pleasure. This in turn can benefit the animal’s well being via an enhanced immune system. Moreover, the gut bacteria, which are of crucial importance to a healthy immune system, will get a special boost from certain plant materials.
In most pet food treats, cheap, chemical-laden ingredients are processed with excessive heat, which render these treats little more than calorie-dense and nutrient-poor blobs. Baked treats made from white flours are a far cry from anything that most animals should eat. Most pet treats are composed of refined ingredients, which have been associated with chronic diseases among pets (e.g., obesity and diabetes). Some treats contain addictive ingredients, such as sugars, sweeteners, or refined salt, which are as unhealthy for animals as they are for people. The addictive properties of sugars, for example, have been amply demonstrated.
In general, the best natural pet treats are those that are USDA certified organic, which guarantees that no agricultural toxins are present in the food. USDA certified organic pet treats are verifiable free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), hormones, antibiotics, and other unhealthy synthetic additives. USDA organic certification also guarantees that no toxins are used during manufacture and that neither the treat nor its ingredients are sanitized using gamma irradiation or pesticides. The USDA organic seal and the name of the certifying agency are the only assurances you have that what you’re buying is organic because, in the case of pet foods, only organic certification warrants that a manufacturer’s organic claims are true.
Over-processing at high temperatures, as occurs during baking and most extrusion processes, may yield cute-looking treats, but certainly diminishes the nutritional qualities of even the best organic ingredients, and may even render some ingredients allergenic for your pet. Nevertheless, adorable shapes seem to have a big impact on consumer choices. The same is true of synthetically colored pet foods and treats. Of course, if animals were to choose, they’d probably go for any shape and color, as long as it tastes good and is generally healthy. Indeed, studies have shown that animals tend to choose organic foods over conventional varieties. If your pet can’t catch or choose his or her own treats, and you can’t provide fresh, natural treats, choose natural, USDA certified organic, whole food-based treats that are free of chemicals and have been treated with low or no heat. Your pet will be happy and that healthy diet will contribute to good psychological and physical health.
Eric Taylor has years of expertise on pet care and pet rearing. He writes on organic pet products, raw pet foods and pet treats that could be used as diet for your pets and ensure their health and wellness.
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