Natural vs Artificial Ingredients in Dog Treats & Chews

Just like us humans, dogs love the opportunity to chow down on a delicious treat. It can be difficult to resist giving them anything they want when they flash their adorable faces with pleading puppy dog eyes. The good news is that there’s nothing wrong with offering your dog treats and chews (in moderation of course) as long as they’re healthy and natural. In fact, it can even be beneficial. Not only can treats be used for reinforcing positive behaviours but they are also great boredom-busters and play an important role in cleaning teeth, providing fresh breath, and aiding digestion

At Chomp & Chew, we offer 100% natural treats and chews, but unfortunately this is not the case for all pet supply retailers (both online and in brick and mortar pet shops). In fact, the current market is full of options that contain harmful additives which may be detrimental to your dog’s health in the long run. This article covers the key points to be aware of when shopping for the best treats and chews for your beloved canine companion. 


Identifying natural dog treats and chews

Products that fall within the ‘natural dog treats and chews’ category will contain ingredients that come directly from Mother Nature’s pantry. This includes many types of whole foods, like real meat, fruits, and vegetables. In addition to containing natural, healthy ingredients, these treats are also free from anything artificial or synthetic.

When comparing different ingredient lists on the packaging of your dog’s favourite treats, look out for familiar names. Natural treats will contain ingredients that you instantly recognise and can easily pronounce. Deciphering these lists is very similar to the process of checking our own products at the supermarket. Checking for wholesome ingredients and fielding any products with harmful additives allows you to make informed choices about what goes into your pet’s diet. This process will quickly become second nature, and soon your dog will have plenty of natural favourites for you to choose from. 


Identifying artificial additives

Dogs typically lean towards foods that excite their senses, much like most humans do when we see a delicious cake or an indulgent takeaway. This is why some retailers make treats that contain artificial additives like colours, flavours, thickeners, and even scents. In addition to flavour, appearance, texture, and fragrance, synthetic additives are sometimes included in the form of preservatives to increase the shelf life of a product. Most of these additives will have names that aren’t instantly recognisable and may be difficult to pronounce. They may also be represented by E numbers.

All of these principles are also present in human food, but we’ve been taught what to look out for. However, in dog treats, it can be easy to accidentally overlook harmful ingredients, as many owners assume they’re safe and normal due to being sold so widely. While your dog may not have an immediate reaction to these additives (except for the case of allergic reactions or sensitivities), long term exposure to synthetic ingredients can have a detrimental effect over time. These ingredients may even raise their risk of developing certain diseases, which is the last thing any dog owner wants. 


Health benefits and implications: natural vs artificial 

Anything that goes into your dog’s body has the potential to impact their health either positively or negatively. Natural products tend to offer benefits, while artificial options often cause negative effects. 


Benefits of natural options

Here are four key benefits of selecting natural treats and chews for your pooch:

  1. They provide extra nutrients

    Natural dog treats are the product of wholesome ingredients that are packed with nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and protein. This allows natural products to offer various health benefits in addition to their delicious taste and ability to induce wagging tails. It’s important to note that the nutritious value of natural treats and chews should not be used as a substitute for a healthy overall diet

  2. They’re typically safe for sensitivities and specific needs

    Some dogs have sensitive digestive systems, but natural treats can help promote easier digestion. Therefore, opting for natural alternatives can help your dog maintain a healthy digestive system. Additionally, if your dog has specific dietary needs or allergies, natural treats can make a huge difference. This is because the absence of artificial additives makes them a gentler option for pups with sensitivities. The shorter ingredient lists also allow you to easily identify which options are safest for your dog’s specific requirements. 

  3. They help your dog maintain a healthy weight

    Natural treats often have a lower calorie count in comparison to their artificial counterparts. This can be particularly helpful for dogs prone to weight issues, allowing you to indulge them without compromising their overall health and vitality. All dogs benefit from maintaining a healthy weight, so even dogs without previous weight issues benefit from sticking to natural options over calorie-dense treats and chews that could lead to weight gain. 

  4. They support dental health

    Chewing is an important part of dental health and a natural instinct that dogs should be able to safely indulge in. Offering them real meat and natural chews can help maintain dental health by reducing plaque and promoting healthy gums without exposing them to harmful additives. 


Implications of treats and chews with artificial additives

Here are four key reasons to avoid artificial treats and chews for your dog:

  1. They can trigger allergies and sensitivities

    Dog treats with artificial additives can trigger allergies or sensitivities in some dogs. If your dog has a sensitive stomach or is prone to allergic reactions, it’s wise to steer clear of treats that contain synthetic ingredients. Dog’s systems aren’t designed to process these ingredients, so they may even upset the systems of dogs that otherwise have no digestive or allergy issues. 

  2. They lack nutrients and may cause weight gain

     Artificial treats and chews tend to be calorie-dense, which can contribute to unhealthy weight gain in dogs. Just like in humans, when dogs take in excess calories, it can lead to obesity and related health issues. Additionally, synthetic options also typically lack nutritional value. So, not only are they calorie-dense, they also contain empty calories with minimal nutritional benefits, if any. 

  3. They lack dental health benefits

    Many artificial treats lack the dental benefits found in natural options. While natural options can help maintain dental health and offer a safe way for dogs to indulge in their natural chewing instinct, some artificial options may not only be less beneficial, they can actually have a detrimental effect. For example, synthetic treats that are particularly sweet can cause a build up of bacteria, which can lead to gum disease if left unchecked. 

  4. They can negatively impact long-term health

    The long-term health effects of artificial preservatives and other synthetic ingredients in dog treats and chews are still under investigation. However, some harmful ingredients are known to cause issues like inflammation and digestive problems, which will only continue to worsen the longer the exposure to these ingredients lasts. Some have already been deemed as carcinogenic.


Additives to avoid

Here are some common artificial ingredients that are worth avoiding next time you buy your dog a tasty snack:

  • Carrageenan (E407)
  • Propyl Gallate (E310)
  • BHA (E320)
  • BHT (E321)
  • Ethoxyquin (E324)
  • Potassium Sorbate (E202)
  • TBHQ (E319)
  • Sodium metabisulphite (E223)
  • Propylene glycol (E1520)
  • Sodium chloride
  • Artificial food dyes
  • Fructose
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • White sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn bran
  • Modified corn starch
  • Corn gluten
  • Wheat gluten
  • Soybean meal
  • Cereal by-products
  • Meat derivatives and by-products
  • Vegetable derivatives and by-products
  • Brewers rice
  • ‘Hulls’ of various origins including rice, oats, cottonseed, soybean, and peanut

Check out our article where we debunk dog food labels to get a better understanding of some of the most common harmful ingredients found in dog food, treats, and chews. 


Our commitment to natural treats & chews

If you’re on the lookout for 100% natural, healthy, and tasty treats and chews that your dog will love, look no further. We only offer natural options with no nasties. No dog should be left out, so we make sure to stock options that suit dogs of various different breeds, ages, sizes, and dietary requirements. Whether you’re looking for dental dog chews, natural alternatives to rawhide, training treats, primal range chews or treat selection boxes, you are sure to find it within our range.

If you have any questions about any of our products, please feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to help you find the perfect fit for your pooch. We’d also love to hear your feedback, as nothing makes us happier than learning about dogs who enjoy what we have to offer. 


Final thoughts

We all love to treat our dogs, whether it’s for training purposes, dental health, or just because they deserve it for being so adorable. The point of this article is not to scare you away from offering them delicious goodies, but simply to arm you with the information you need so you can be careful about which options you pick out for them to gobble down. As long as you prioritise moderation and natural ingredients, there’s no reason why you can’t give your pooch treats and chews to supplement their healthy diet. In fact, it can even be beneficial for their health. 

Check out our vast collection of natural treats and chews, and feel free to reach out if you need any assistance finding the right fit for your dog!

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