11 Worst Dog Treats To Avoid (And Healthy Alternatives)

We love our dogs and it can be tough to say “no” to them, especially when they are giving you those oh-so-pleading puppy dog eyes and eyeing your food.

However, humans and dogs have way different digestive systems, and what works for us may not necessarily work for them.

worst dog treats
11 Worst Dog Treats To Avoid (and Healthy Alternatives)

From cookies filled with sugar and chemicals to dried fruit that’s covered in sugar, these treats are anything but good for your pooch. 

While it is tempting to give them whatever they want, there are a few things that you should really stay away from. In this blog post, we’ll look at some common dog treats that could actually harm your dog, and share some healthy alternatives that you might want to give in its place. 

Dog Treats To Avoid 

1. Rawhide

Rawhide is a popular dog treat that is made from the inner layer of cow or horse skin. While it may seem like a harmless treat, rawhide can be very dangerous for dogs. These chews are made from leather and don’t necessarily dissolve when ingested

dog bites a rawhide bone
A Golder Retriever holds a rawhide in his mouth.

If not properly monitored and any large pieces are ingested, they can cause blockages in the intestines of our canine companions. On top of that, even if the chews get bitten into smaller pieces, they can still pose a serious choking hazard. 

2. Bones

Bones are another popular dog treat but they can also be dangerous. Bones can splinter and break, which can cause choking or blockages in your dog’s digestive tract

dog busy chewing bone
Dog can safely chews raw bones.

In addition, bones can also harbor bacteria that can make your dog sick. Always avoid small bones and only give large bones to your dog which are too big to swallow.

3. Sausage Links

Sausage links as a dog treat can be dangerous for many reasons. Sausage links are often made with chicken or beef, both of which can contain bacteria that can make your dog sick

Shih Tzu food to avoid
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In addition, sausage links often contain garlic and onion powder, both of which can be toxic to dogs in large quantities. A small quantity, on the other hand, will not hurt your dog. 

4. Hot Dogs

Hot dogs should not be a part of your pup’s regular diet. Although it may seem like an easy treat, these processed sausages contain unhealthy ingredients. They typically have high levels of fat, sodium, and preservatives such as nitrates which are not suitable for canine digestion or overall health.

French Bulldog eats unhealthy food
Avoid serving unhealthy foods or treats to dogs such as hot dogs and sausages.

Hot dogs also generally don’t contain any nutritional benefits like the vegetables and lean proteins found in well-balanced dog meals. Adding this snack consistently can cause obesity and other medical problems over time that result in expensive vet bills.

5. Jerky Treats

Some jerky treats have been found to contain harmful ingredients, such as preservatives and additives, that can be harmful to dogs. In addition, some jerky treats are made with low-quality meat sources that may not be ideal for dogs to eat. 

beef jerky for dogs
Beef jerky for dogs can also be an alternative treat instead of chicken breast.

It is important to carefully read the ingredient list on any jerky treats you are considering giving to your dog to ensure that they are made with high-quality, safe ingredients.

6. Potato Chips

Potato chips are not a suitable treat for dogs for several reasons. First, potato chips are high in fat, salt, and other additives, which can harm dogs if eaten in large amounts. In addition, the crunchy texture of potato chips can be hard on a dog’s teeth and digestive system. 

potatoes and potato chips
Potato chips are not a healthy treat for dogs.

It is best to avoid giving your dog potato chips and choose healthier treats that are specifically designed for dogs.

7. Blueberry Muffins

Blueberries may be yummy for humans, but they are not a good choice of treat for dogs. Dogs should not eat any type of muffin or pastry, as these treats contain too much sugar in addition to fats and oils

Furthermore, things like baking powder and baking soda can irritate a dog’s stomach if ingested. Blueberries also have the potential to be toxic for some dogs, depending on their weight.

8. Donuts

The truth is, donuts are not only bad for a human’s health but for your pup as well! Donuts contain a large amount of sugar and other additives that can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other long-term health issues in dogs if consumed regularly. 

dog bites a donut
A dog bites a donut from his owner!

Even worse is the lack of essential nutrients that these sweet treats provide to an animal’s diet.

9. Ice Cream

Dogs can often be tempted by the same treats we enjoy. However, an ice cream treat could do more harm than good. Like humans, dogs can suffer from lactose intolerance and struggle to process the dairy in traditional ice creams. 

dog licking icecream stick
A happy dog licks the stick of a frozen treat. Limit your dogs sugar intake for their health.

Even if your pup isn’t lactose-intolerant, milk-based products can cause digestive problems such as vomiting and diarrhea.

10. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter might contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol which can be toxic for your dog

different peanut butter
Different peanut butter for your puppy.

If you want to feed your pooch peanut butter, use only organic brands made with natural ingredients, and only feed small quantities.  

11. Microwave Popcorn

An occasional popcorn is fine to feed your pup. However, in larger quantities, its high-fat content along with chemicals used in the flavoring and packaging process, microwave popcorn can prove to be damaging when fed to dogs on a regular basis.

cooked popcorn in a microwave oven
A microwave popcorn with flavorings can be harmful for dogs.

In addition, the popcorn kernels pose a serious choking hazard; so next time you’re looking for something special to treat your pup, skip the microwave popcorn.

Safe, Healthy Alternatives 

“You are what you eat,” and the same rings true for our favorite canines. Many store-bought treats contain additives and chemicals, so why not opt for some healthy, natural snacks? You can enjoy them too! 

1. Apples

Apples can be a great treat for your pup! Not only are these crunchy fruits low in calories, but their firm texture is good for keeping your dog’s teeth and gums healthy. They’re also full of fiber, vitamins A and C, calcium, and antioxidants that can help support your pup’s immune system. 

French Bulldog eating
A French Bulldog eating an apple, while looking up.

2. Bananas

Bananas are a great treat to give your pup since they’re packed with plenty of beneficial nutrients. Not only do they provide dietary fiber, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin C, but they have a healthy dose of potassium that helps regulate blood pressure in dogs.

woman feeds her dog
Woman feeds her dog with peanut butter and bananas.

An added bonus is that bananas contain natural sugars, so they offer energy-boosting sweetness while avoiding artificial sweeteners.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli contains lots of vitamins and minerals that keep your pup healthy and happy. For example, broccoli has nutritional yeast that helps fortify your dog’s immune system. It also has a ton of fiber which can help support the digestive system and make it easier for pups to process their food. 

dog with a broccoli
Dog with a broccoli in his mouth on a plain background.

Lastly, it has low-calorie content compared to other vegetables, so you don’t have to worry about your pup packing on extra pounds.

4. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a nutritious and healthy treat for your pup. They provide plenty of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and can also help improve your dog’s digestion. Sweet potatoes may also help prevent dental disease in dogs due to their crunchy texture, which cleans plaque from the teeth while they eat. 

sweet potatoes being peeled
Can dogs eat sweet potato peel?

They are low in fat and sodium and contain important antioxidants that boost the immune system.

5. Red Peppers

These crunchy vegetables provide a great change of pace from regular treats, and their high antioxidant content will help keep your pup’s immune system strong. 

red peppers in boxes
Red peppers contain vitamins and minerals beneficial for dogs!

If eaten in moderation, red peppers can also help promote healthy digestion and boost the overall health of your dog’s gut

Dogs especially love them when they’re cooked – just be sure to cut them up into small pieces to avoid any choking hazards.

6. Watermelon

As long as there are no added sugars or salt, watermelon can be a great way for dogs to get a refreshing treat on hot days. They have plenty of vitamins and even have some anti-inflammatory properties, so they’ll do wonders for your pet’s health. 

adult terrier eats watermelon
An adult Russell Terrier eating some watermelon

7. Carrots

Carrots are one of the most nutritious treats you can give your pup. They offer a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other healthy components like biotin and potassium, which are key in maintaining optimal canine health. 

can puppy eat carrots
A puppy is eating a carrot on the floor.

Not to mention they’re low in calories so giving them as a snack won’t result in weight gain. In addition, carrots’ crunchiness makes them an excellent treat for helping reduce tartar buildup on teeth and gums.

8. Green Peas

Green peas are a superfood for not only humans but for dogs too. Green peas, both fresh and frozen, can provide a great source of vitamins and minerals that help support the overall health of your furry pal. 

small bowl of green peas
Green peas are one of the healthy dog treats!

Packed with antioxidants, B-Vitamins, Vitamin K, and protein, green peas are full of nutritional value that does wonders for your pup’s skin and coat as well as improving their digestion.

Final Thoughts 

The worst dog treats are those that contain harmful ingredients such as artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. Some might even contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs like garlic, onion, xylitol, or chocolate. 

It is crucial to carefully read the label and choose treats made with natural, high-quality ingredients to ensure the health and safety of your canine bestie!