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Dog Treats…The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly


BioStar K9 Organic Dog Treats

Hello, I’m Thunderbear.


Get the rundown on organic dog treats of all kinds, along with…some others…straight from the salivating mouth of a canine who knows his snacks. Without further ado, here’s Thunderbear:

Finally I get to say a few words without Kemosabe hogging all the limelight. I’m Thunderbear, a professional dog treat eater.  I have sharpened my skills while taking obedience classes, and am now doing classes to get prepared for Rally Competitions.  I am being trained using positive reinforcement, which roughly translated into canine language means: many treats for my awesome good behavior and trainability.

Treats for Training:

The treats I get for training are grain-free: liver, fish, or venison treats.  BioStar K9 Dog Star Treats are my favorite because they contain an excellent protein source, liver, plus the added coconut meal and organic flax seeds that help give me such a nice coat, along with organic pumpkin for extra fiber and beta carotene.  They contain no preservatives or flavorings, and are GMO-free.

A nice addition to the BioStar treats are The Real Meat Company’s Venison Jerky Treats.   Like the BioStar treats, these venison treats are small, easy to break into even smaller pieces and are especially effective when dealing with the “piranha puppy” — Buckaroo.   These treats are 95% venison with some dried chicory root (an excellent prebiotic), sea salt, vitamin E, and glycerine.  And just like BioStar’s treats, they’re made in the USA.

Extra Treats:

Sometimes our humans just have to give us a cookie;  we don’t mind of course. These cookies are larger than the training treats so it takes a few seconds longer to eat them.

My favorite cookie is Buckley’s Salmon Jerky, made of salmon and a little glycerine.  No wheat, corn, soy,  preservatives, or byproducts, and also USA-made.  Tigger breaks the jerky into smaller pieces so the bag lasts longer.  When we hear her rattling that bag, we come running!

I also like Fruitables Whole Jerky Grilled Bison Strips.  These are premium cuts of bison, with no fillers or nitrates, and are also made in the USA. Tigger prefers bison over beef, chicken or pork jerky products because of how the industrialized meat producers feed and care for livestock.

One of the big problems facing us canines with jerky is that a lot of the jerky treats are laced with sugar and flavorings we don’t need. Many jerky treats are also made in China.  Tigger says humans have to really pay attention to the ingredient listing on the packages, as the marketing on the front of the package may not be the reality of what is in the package.

BioStar Organic Dog Treats

BioStar’s Dog Star Treats

Rawhide Chews:

We’re not allowed to have rawhide chews, because of how rawhide chews are made.  The process begins with the removal of the hair from hides which requires sodium sulfide and lime. The hides are then washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide with an additional step of adding chlorine or chlorine dioxide   Once the hair is removed, the inner portion becomes rawhide.  Other chemicals that can be used in rawhide processing are arsenic and formaldehyde.  Not exactly what you’d call organic dog treats. What’s more, in an investigation by the Humane Society International, skins of slaughtered dogs in Thailand were mixed with other bits of skin to produce rawhide chew toys for export to U.S stores. Yuck!

There’s also the concern for the quality of life of the animals from concentrated feeding operations (industrial farms), where often a cocktail of antibiotics, arsenicals and hormones are used to boost production.  Rawhide products made in the U.S can be a by-product of industrial concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO’s).

Alternatives to Rawhide:

Active dogs like me can enjoy chewing on Bully Sticks, and I love Barkworthies Bully Sticks.   Bully Sticks are also called Pizzle Sticks because they are made from the dried penis of bulls or steers.  That may sound yucky to humans, but to us canines these chews are delicious.  Bully Sticks are high in calories, so overweight dogs might want to avoid this one.

One of my favorite chews is Great Dog Bison Achilles Tendon Chews.  These chews are from range-fed bison and are free of growth hormones, and antibiotics.  Once I finish my chew, I always try to steal Buckaroo’s.  However, no one even attempts to take Kemosabe’s — we’ve all learned that lesson well.

Raw marrow or soup  bones are my absolute favorite chew.  Buckaroo came back from his second obedience class where he had won a marrow bone because he did the most “sit-comes” in 20 seconds.  I was so jealous.  I told Tigger that I should get that marrow bone because Buckaroo had the advantage of watching me do “sit-comes” and therefore, as his teacher, I should get the marrow bone as a reward for my excellent teaching abilities.  Fortunately, Tigger always keeps marrow bones in the freezer, so Buckaroo got to chew on his prize, and I got my own prize too.

Most canines like me, eat the marrow and gnaw on the bone. Marrow can cause diarrhea in some dogs, while the bone firms up stool. If your canine gets diarrhea from marrow bones, simply spoon out the most of the marrow before feeding.   It’s important not to cook marrow or soup bones because then the bone itself becomes softer and can break more easily in our jaws, with those pieces becoming lodged in our teeth and throats.

Vegetarian Treats:

When I was little I used to steal baby carrots from the horses’ feed buckets as the feed was soaking.  It was kind of like bobbing for apples, except I was bobbing for carrots.  I still like to crunch on baby carrots because they’re sweet and they taste good.

Sometimes we get to have little slivers of avocados: no skin, just little morsels of the flesh.  Buckaroo really loves avocados. Kemosabe hates them.  I think they’re pretty tasty, although the texture is kind of weird.  Avocados on some websites are cited as toxic due to presence of persin.  But persin exists mostly in the peel, pit, bark and leaves of avocadoes.  Hardly any is present in the flesh, so as long as your human scoops it out, you’re good!

Apple slices are not my favorite, although Kemosabe loves them. Tigger says it’s important not to feed whole apples to dogs because it can lead to an upset stomach.

None of us like orange slices, but some dogs do.   We do like frozen green beans, especially in the summer when it’s hot.  We also like to eat beans when they are picked fresh out of the garden.  Kemosabe is crazy about them, and even got in trouble last summer when he went out and raided the bean patch.

We also get celery sometimes in our once-a-week raw sardine meal, or the bits that fall on the floor while Tigger is chopping stalks. Celery is a pretty low calorie food, and the best thing about it is the crunch!

Treats from the Table:

This is a BIG no-no from our human.  No to begging.  No to licking plates after the humans have eaten. No to any leftovers of any kind. These either go to the chickens, or the compost pile.

Cheese and Eggs:

I got in big trouble this past autumn when I raided one of the nesting boxes and grabbed an egg.  I have a pretty soft palate, so the egg didn’t break until Kemosabe body-slammed me and I dropped it. Eggs at our house are part of our diet. We get eggs once or twice a week, sometimes raw, sometimes cooked.  Take it from me: don’t steal eggs from the hen house and you can still end up with one without getting in trouble. It turns out thievery is not usually not necessary for obtaining quality organic dog treats.

We aren’t treated very often with cheese.   And, if we do get cheese as a training treat, it’s either goats’ milk cheese, or cheddar or havarti.  No processed cheese allowed in our house.  Tigger says the fat in cheese is good for us active dogs, as it supplies energy.  But too much of it is not good for us, or our digestive systems.  None of us is lactose intolerant, but evidently a fairly large percentage of the canine population is.

Reward, Reward, Reward:

My motto is: I will do anything for a treat. That includes controlling my impulse to chase chickens, playing squeaky-toy with the cat, transporting Tigger’s shoes to various secret hiding places, and dragging porch cushions onto the grass to rip to smithereens (with Buckaroo’s help of course).

Most of us canines are food motivated. Eventually we learn that it is not simply “tricks” we do to earn a treat; we’re being rewarded for good behavior, for making the “right” decisions and for controlling our impulses. This motivates us to be the dogs you want us to be: loyal, kind, friendly, obedient, playful, compassionate, resourceful, clever, and funny.

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