Yesterday I had an interesting article handed to me by one of my associates. It was about the calorie content in a dog “treat” called “Bully Sticks”. For those who do not know, and according to this article there are a lot who do not know, these “treats” are the dried uncooked penises of slaughtered bulls. The calorie content (which is extremely high incidentally) is not the part of the article that we are concerned about. Due to their uncooked nature, these “treats” are apparently a source of some pretty nasty bacteria. In their study the researchers found Clostridium difficile, an antibiotic resistant strain of Staphylococcus aureaus and a lot of Escirichia coli on 9 of 27 of them. So basically 1/3 of these things are cases of diarrhea waiting to infect your dog. And some of those diarrheas will be extremely difficult to treat. Simple drying will not affect these bacteria in any way as only cooking is capable of killing these types of bacteria and preventing them from causing illness.
Feeding dogs treats beyond their basic diet is always a difficult discussion between veterinarians and their clients. It is human nature to want to give those we love (two-legged or four-legged) treats to demonstrate our love for them. The problem is that these things are often fattening and can even be harmful like the Bully Sticks. I constantly caution clients to ensure that any treats they give their dogs are from reputable companies that source their materials within North America. Regrettably many countries have been exporting products, especially those for consumption by animals, that contain harmful substances. We are pretty good at checking country of origin for our own foods and staying away from products we are unsure of. Please take the time to do the same for anything you are feeding your dog. If you cannot easily find the country of origin on a treat, odds are that they are trying to “hide” it to keep it from you. Always err on the side of caution. In the meantime, obviously, please don’t feed your dog “Bully Sticks”.
Discussing our patients’ diets and treats is a part of a routine examination in our practice as it is with most veterinarians. Since the things you feed them are the only sources of nutrition that most of your pets’ have it is important that there be no doubts about what the ingredients are. Please feel free to book an appointment with us to discuss anything you have doubts about. It is much better (and a whole lot less expensive) to be safe than sorry. There are many “experts” out there that are very good at convincing people that they know all about dog or cat nutrition. In the end there is only one group of true experts… the ones with DVM after their name.
Dr. Michael Steen DVM
Hillcrest Animal Hospital