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Top 4 Things to Avoid in Pet Stores (and What You Should Get Instead!)

Top 4 Things to Avoid in Pet Stores  (and What You Should Get Instead!)

Dog owners love pet stores. It’s exciting to see the many things you can buy for your beloved furry companion. However, it doesn’t automatically mean a product is safe for your dog because it is sold in a pet store. So many foods you can buy in such shops may do your pet more harm than good.

In a viral TikTok video, veterinarian Dr. Hunter Finn (@dr.hunterfinn) talks about the usual things you find in a pet store that are not good for your pets. What pet store foods are bad for your dogs?

1. Chicken Jerky from China

Chicken Jerky on White Background

Chicken (along with chicken meal and chicken by-products) is a common ingredient in dog food. It’s a good source of protein that’s important for dog growth and development. So it’s no wonder that chicken jerky became a thing to feed dogs as a treat or supplement.

However, not all chicken jerkies are safe for pets to eat. For one, chicken jerky made in China has been in the news many times in the last decade due to numerous complaints receivedby the FDA. For example, a study of a dog that has been exposed to jerky treats showed that the pup acquired Fanconi syndrome.

Some dog breeds are genetically predisposed for Fanconi syndrome, like the Basenji. But the study shows a jerky-rich diet is triggering the same in other breeds. Fanconi syndrome affects the kidneys. Dogs with this ailment experience excessive water loss and other vital substances like glucose, amino acids, phosphate, and electrolytes.

What is in jerky that may be bad for dogs though? Jerky typically contains a lot of salt. Too much salt is bad for dogs, and just like with humans, overconsumption may lead to serious and long-term health. A regular, high-salt diet can cause:

  • Increased thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Increased body temperature
  • Seizures 

Severe cases can lead to sodium ion poisoning and death.

While there has not been any official word about how the Chinese-made chicken jerky can result in dog death, it’s best to avoid the potentially deadly treats.

Alternative for Chicken Jerky from China - Home-made chicken jerky

Chicken Strips Being Cut on Chopping Board with a Thin Knife

Photo: DogTipper

You can still feed your dogs chicken jerky but try making it yourself. This way, you can fully control how much salt is added. You can also vouch for the quality of the other ingredients used.

2. Antlers

Dog Chewing on Antlers 

Antlers can keep your dogs occupied for a good long while because they last a long time. But are antlers safe for dogs? No. they can also lead to teeth breakage and swollen gums. They may also cause perforations and gastrointestinal upset when swallowed.

Another thing to be wary of is antlers may break or splinter. Those broken pieces can get stuck in your dog’s mouth, throat, or intestines. This, in turn, may cause dangerous blockages and lead to emergency surgery.

If your dog loves antlers, consider the size. Do not get one that is too small that it’s a choking risk or too large that they can’t chew or bite it properly. If your dog is getting aggressive, experts recommend taking the antlers away from them.

Alternative to Deer Antlers - Dental Chews

Dog on Grass Biting Dental Chew Stick

Dental chews come in stick-form. They’re good for removing plaque from the teeth, usually, last longer than antlers, and they are full of calories. When buying dental chews, look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal. That should tell you that you’re getting a product that is effective for your pet’s dental health.

3. Bones

Dog Biting a Big Piece of Bone


Who hasn’t seen a cartoon of a dog with a bone? Bones may be the most common treat for dogs. But beware of their effects. Bones cause the same effects as antlers but give more gastrointestinal upset.

Most dog owners are excited whenever they have leftover bones from their meals. They always think that this will be the best treat for their pets. However, consider that cooked bones break easily and may lead to serious issues such as:

  • Broken teeth
  • Mouth or tongue injuries
  • Gastrointestinal blockage
  • Constipation
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Peritonitis

Alternative for bones - Bully Sticks 

Bully Sticks on White Background

What is a good alternative to bone for dogs? Consider bully sticks.

Bully sticks come from the penis of bulls. They’re 100% beef tendon. They’re all-natural, low-fat, and a good source of taurine. 

However, while bully sticks are touted as “easily digestible,” they can still be potential choking hazards. A few critical things to always keep in mind when giving these to your dogs:

  • Make sure the bully stick isn’t too hard. When choosing what to buy, try to see if you can put an indent on the stick with your fingernail. If you can, then it’s not too hard for your pet’s teeth.
  • Keep a close eye on your dog, especially when the stick is chewed down to a smaller size. Your dog might try to swallow the remaining stick whole and choke.
  • Do not give bully sticks to puppies. Their teeth are more brittle and may crack or break. Wait until they have their complete set of adult teeth.

4. Rawhide

Sad Dog with Raw Hide

Why is rawhide bad for dogs? The double-layered knotted ends on rawhide are super difficult to swallow and digest, causing a similar effect as with antlers and bones.

Rawhide is also processed and may leave toxic chemicals on your dogs. They can be contaminated with such things as salmonella or E. coli. They can cause indigestion and blockage.

Artificial dog chews may also include gelatin, additional sweeteners, additives, and preservatives that may be toxic to dogs or lead to cancer.

Alternative for Rawhide – Carrots and Other Vegetables

Black French Bulldog with Thin Carrot in Mouth

Carrots are a good alternative for rawhide and for your dogs to chew. Carrot is rich in nutrients and low on calories and can even help your dog lose weight if they need to. Just make sure that you chop the carrot into small pieces to avoid choking hazards.

Other vegetables that are great for chewing are:

  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Green Beans
  • Beets
  • Sweet Potato
  • Butternut Squash 

Remember: not all things that you see and look good at the pet stores are good for your dog. Always check the ingredients and the health benefits of these products. When in doubt, consult with your vet before opening your wallet.

Gearing up for the holidays? Check out what human foods are bad for your dogs and what will make their festive season pawsitively happy.

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