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Are milk bones bad for dogs? The answer is: No, under most circumstances.
Paracelsus said in the 16th century that “Everything is poison, nothing is poison, only the dose makes the poison.” Therefore, whether milk bones will cause harm to our dogs or not depends on the number of treats we give to our furry family members.
We understand that you love your dog and that it is tough to resist its tender face when it is asking you to give it just one more treat. However, from our own experience, we can tell you that with years of research on the subject and basic knowledge of animal nutrition, we have determined multiple reasons why it is important to be careful with the number of treats you give them.
To let you have a better understanding of how milk bones will affect your dog, we will be sharing with you the following:
- What are milk bones
- The common ingredients found in milk bones
- The BHA controversy
- How to feed milk bones safely to your dog
- Alternative treats to consider
What Are Milk Bones?
Despite being called milk bones, they are neither a bone nor composed of them. Milk bones are dog treats made with dairy and meat products and supplemented with bone-shaped minerals.
While dairy, meat, and bone-shaped minerals are essential to milk bones, brands will source their ingredients from different types of animals and plants. For example, the Chewy Dog Bones offer milk bones made from either beef or chicken meat, while the Maro Dog Snacks manufactures their milk bones using only bone marrows. The most popular brand of milk bones are called, well, Milk-Bone.
Common Ingredients Found In Milk Bones
Some ingredients may be commonly found in human foods, but they can be controversial ingredients in pet food. In milk bones, these are the controversial ingredients that are usually used in the production process:
- Ground wheat
- Wheat flour
- Malted barley flour
- Meat and bone meal
- Beef fat
- Dry Brewer’s Yeast
- Dicalcium Phosphate
- Calcium Carbonate
- BHA (To be further discussed)
Under normal circumstances, although these controversial ingredients may be used in the manufacturing process, the amount is too little to present a risk for a dog, no matter how small the size.
However, some dogs may be allergic to the ingredients in the milk bones. If an allergen is present, it could generate a mild allergic reaction in the dog to an anaphylactic shock , which you will NOT want to see.
The BHA Controversy
Some owners have the question: Are milk bones bad for dogs because they contain BHA?
BHA is a preservative that is a known carcinogen. It has been known to produce tumors in scientific studies on laboratory animals when administered in high doses .
The amount of BHA in milk bones is so low that they should not pose a health risk to your beloved dog if you follow the feeding guidelines.
The complications usually arise when owners ignore or are unaware of the feeding guidelines, giving their dogs way more treats than recommended.
Feeding Milk Bones Safely To Your Dog
Now that we have established that milk bones are not bad for dogs, the question is: How can we feed milk bones safely to our dogs?
We will go in-depth into the ways you can ensure that your dog enjoys milk bones with minimal risk.
1. Checking out the complete ingredient list
Checking of ingredients is a must-do step for all commercial products fed to your dog, but all the more so important for milk bones due to the long list of controversial products mentioned in the above section.
If anything on the list looks suspicious to you, or you spot anything on the list that your dog might be potentially allergic to, put the product back on the shelf.
When it comes to health matters (both our own and our pups’), it is always wise to prioritize safety over convenience.
2. Adhering to the feeding guidelines
The feeding guidelines say only 1 treat per day for a small breed dog. Adhere to it and feed only 1 treat to your Chihuahua per day. No ifs, no buts.
Our dogs know only that the treats are yummy and will beg you for more. However, they do not know that excessive consumption can be detrimental to their health.
As their family member who understands the dangers of excessive feeding, the right way to show love and care for them is to follow the feeding guidelines because we want them to be safe and healthy.
3. Breaking treats into smaller pieces
Milk bones have been one of the popular choices for most dog owners when it comes to selecting training treats as the majority of dogs love them.
However, if you are going to use it as a training treat, recall the feeding guidelines – how many milk bones can you feed to your dog per day?
What we suggest, if milk bones really motivate your dog, is to break each piece of milk bone into smaller pieces and reserve them as high-value treats.
High-value treats mean that the treat is only given when the dog has achieved a particular achievement (such as executing the command right for the first time) or shown consistency of good behavior (usually given at the end of a training session).
4. In the worst-case scenario……
If you notice any abnormalities after your dog consumes the milk bones you gave it, consult the veterinarian imediately.
The faster your dog receives treatment, the higher the chances of a full recovery.
Alternative Treats To Consider
If you are still not convinced or are not sure about feeding your dog milk bones, there are always other alternatives, both commercial and homemade, that your dog will love.
Commercial Dog Treats
Most owners will opt for commercial dog treats instead of homemade ones due to the time and effort required to replenish the treat supply weekly. Therefore, we are going to provide a list of suggested dog treats that you may want to look into for your dog.
For small breeds, our suggested list is:
- Fruitables Crunchy Dog Treats: Fruitables is one of the brands that have small-size treats that small dogs can easily chew. I speak this confidently because it is what I feed to my Chihuahua.
- Wellness Soft Chews (Grain-free): Wellness treats come in a bigger size than Fruitables, but they are soft and can easily be torn into smaller pieces to feed your dog. They are also a good option for dogs who are allergic to grains.
- PureBites Freeze-Dried Dog Treats: PureBites freeze-dried treats only contain one ingredient – chicken. Therefore, if your dog has a sensitive stomach or are allergic to many different ingredients, it is best to opt for this treat.
For medium to large breeds, our suggested list is:
- Buddy Biscuits: These gingerbread man treats are recommended because of their size, which is close to half an adult’s palm size. Your dog is really getting a treat for themselves that they can chew on and not gulp down in one bite!
- Pet Jerky Factory Dog Treats: This grain-free, limited ingredient dog treat is a good option for owners who have dogs that are allergic to grains or have sensitive stomachs. They can either be fed as a whole or broken down into smaller pieces for training purposes.
- Dingo Rawhides: Dingo is one of the best brands when it comes to rawhide chews. They are known to be long-lasting and are good for cleaning your dog’s teeth during the chewing process.
Home-made Dog Treats
For owners that are against commercial treats because of the possible preservatives and additives, we also provide some alternatives for you to consider.
- Frozen carrots: Carrots are good for your dog’s immune system and vision. Additionally, they are inexpensive and easy to get hold of, making them one of the healthier and more convenient options.
- Raw large bones: Large bones (like beef bones) are a good source of minerals such as calcium and phosphorus while cleaning your dog’s teeth. However, proper handling of raw bones is needed to prevent bacterial growth, and they must be big-sized enough to prevent choking. Cooking the bones will also change the nutritional composition and make them more prone to splintering, so it is advised to use raw bones.
Are milk bones bad for dogs? We now know the answer to the question: milk bones, which contains meat, grain, and diary, are not bad for dogs when checked for allergic ingredients and adhered to feeding guidelines.
However, if you still feel that milk bones are unsafe for your dog, but are looking for alternative treats for training purposes, Fruitables (for small dogs) and Buddy Biscuits (for medium/large dogs) are good choices to consider. Home-made treats are also a viable, albeit less convenient, option.
Regardless of what treats you feed your dog, consult the local veterinarian immediately if you notice your dog showing signs of abnormality (such as shivering, vomiting, and lethargy).