With the recent media blitz surrounding reports of suspected dog deaths related to imported jerky treats, one Trail vet takes a more philosophical approach to feeding domestic pets.
“If you boil it right down, treats aren’t required,” said Doctor Brian Gresley-Jones from his East Trail office.
Dog food companies use marketing ploys to connect and convince pet owners that if they love their dog, then they’ll feed it unnecessary treats, maintains the long practising vet.
“You can give your pet all the love and affection it needs by means others than feeding a treat.
“It’s a whole marketing strategy if you break it right down.”
The “natural ingredient” advertising that pet companies use to pander to the dog loving public is another untruth, continued Gresley-Jones.
“They say the dog will love how it tastes,” he noted. “How can they make those claims when that same dog will go out on a trail and eat a dead mouse if it finds one.
“The taste and all of that is stroking our heart strings, not the animal’s.”
Instead, the veterinarian suggests dog owners purchase fresh knuckle bones from a local grocer, or consider dehydrating chicken or beef at home.
“To be on the safe side, until there is a definitive yes or no about imported jerky treats, I would personally avoid them,” said Gresley-Jones. “And if you do feed treats to your animal, make sure to do your homework and don’t make the treat a primary part of the dog’s diet.”
Finally, he does not advocate for allowing animals to run off their leashes and out of the owner’s sight lines.
“The other message is that it’s a really nice idea to take your dog out for a walk and let it run off leash,” said Gresley-Jones. “But the minute he is out of your sight, you don’t know what the dog has done.”
Pets can become sick after drinking contaminated water from a puddle or from poking around at a dead animal.
“It’s just not safe to let them run free.”
He said it’s these variables that are impeding the regulating bodies from clearly identifying a link between purchased dog treats and other factors that could play into the pet’s illness.
If a pet owner choses to purchase treats, he maintains that thorough research into the product is required and that pets should never be overfed jerky treats.
“With the history of products coming out of China, I would be leery to feed those to a pet,” said Gresley-Jones.
“And don’t buy into things like natural smoked pig hooves or bull bones because those are not natural products that any domestic dog would eat.”
Pet owners should be aware that all treats are not a substitute for a balanced diet and should be only given to the animal occasionally.
“Buy a good quality dog food and the dog will do just fine. You don’t need to buy treats.”
According to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada, a national non-profit organization representing all facets of the Canadian pet industry, about half of all Canadian households own some kind of pet, and Canadians dropped over $6 billion on them last year.
The average dog owner claims to spend over $1800 annually on each dog, which covers food, treats, and veterinarian visits.