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milk bones for dogs

Are Milk Bones Bad For Dogs? (An Analysis of Ingredients)

Although a popular dog biscuit, there have been questions about the safety of Milk Bones. We have all the answers here.

There are tons of options when buying treats for dogs, as the market for pet products has exploded in recent years. But the old standby — Milk Bones — is still the most recognized name in dog treats and also the most commonly found treat on grocery store shelves.

Rather than going to a pet store or online, it can often be easier (and cheaper) for dog owners to just grab a box of Milk Bones with its bright red packaging and toss it in the grocery cart. 

We know dogs will happily accept the treats, but from a nutrition standpoint – are Milk Bones bad for dogs? This article will review the different characteristics of Milk Bones that may bring hesitation when giving them to your dog.

Milk Bone Ingredients

When looking at the packaging for Milk Bone dog treats, there are many to take into consideration. Per the company’s official website, the ingredient list for the original Milk Bone biscuit recipe includes the following items:

  • Ground Whole Wheat
  • Wheat Flour
  • Meat and Bone Meal
  • Milk
  • Salt
  • Beef Fat 
  • Natural Flavor
  • Dicalcium Phosphate
  • Malted Barley Flour
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Brewers Dried Yeast
  • Sodium Metabisulfite
  • Minerals 
  • Vitamins 
  • BHA 

This list does not have a significant cause for concern regarding ingredients that are or are not safe for dogs. However, what can become problematic is the number of calories. Each Milk Bone of their original recipe variety has 125 calories per treat. 

Pet owners typically reward their dogs with more than one treat or several throughout any given day. When a pet is awarded multiple treats, their daily caloric intake can rise. Although this isn’t a concern when it isn’t an everyday occurrence, it can become troublesome for their health over time. 

Are Milk Bones Good For Dogs?

As outlined in the ingredients list, the original Milk Bone does not contain alarming ingredients or ingredients that dogs shouldn’t consume. However, there are several varieties of Milk Bone products on the market with different makeups. 

An ingredient that can show up in the other product recipes is sugar. As is the case with humans, sugar in small quantities is acceptable for dogs. However, once pets get a taste of that signature ingredient, they want to have it more frequently. 

Although pet owners can remedy this by only giving the treats in small amounts and infrequently, the excitement that pets have for the item can cause them to swallow it prematurely instead of chewing. This activity can lead to choking and digestive issues. 

What About BHA?

In recent years, there was concern over the addition of butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) in Milk Bones and the potential correlation between it and cancer in dogs. This concern was brought about in a report by the National Institutes of Health in 1991 that concluded that BHA might have potential carcinogenic effects.

Used as a preservative, BHA allows the Milk Bone dog treats to have an extended shelf life. The Milk Bone recipe has utilized BHA since 1995 with no adverse reactions, according to the company. Additionally, studies surrounding the ingredient report the ingredient as having no negative consequence outside of the study cited in 1991. 

milk bone treats for dogs

Is Ethoxyquin Harmful?

In addition to BHA, some dog foods and treats include the use of Ethoxyquin. This ingredient is another form of food preservative that appears to correlate with a dog’s heart and bone health and the use of Ethoxyquin. 

Ethoxyquin is not approved for use outside of the United States but is allowed for limited use within the country. Although the company that produces Milk Bones has utilized Ethoxyquin in the past, they began taking steps to eliminate the ingredient from their recipes after reports of its effects on pets.

As of today, it appears that all Milk Bone products are free from Ethoxyquin. 

Healthy Dog Treat Alternatives

If pet owners still feel uncomfortable giving their dogs treats and dog food with preservatives added in, there are options available for purchase that do not contain ingredients designated for the preservation of the food product. 

The best option for your pet, as a way to avoid preservatives, is to invest in fresh food. Canned food will also contain a lesser amount of BHA but may still include it in some form. 

When searching out the best products, it is necessary to note the title of the product. Most items that include the term “Natural” will contain few to no preservatives in their recipe. 

Other options to consider include:

  • Raw Duck Hearts
  • Whole Pig Ears
  • Marrow Treats
  • Beef Bones

For meals, many pet owners will incorporate a raw food diet. This diet includes raw meat, fruits, vegetables, and starches into a dog’s meal plan. There are options to purchase this type of meal through a variety of sources. However, many pet owners acquire the ingredients themselves and cook the food at home for their pets.

In Summary

All pet owners want what is best for their dogs. As much as they want to reward them for good behavior or successful training sessions, even more so, they want to know that the products they are giving to them are free from harmful ingredients. 

With all the different ingredients available for use, it can be hard to know which are harmful and which are beneficial. So often, people just want to trust that the companies that produce the products are doing so with the best ingredients possible and pets’ health at the forefront.

And for the most part, this is the case. Individuals started pet food and treat companies with a mutual love of pets at the center. Harming pets is not what they signed up for and would hurt their business model in the long run. 

However, there are circumstances in which the effects of certain ingredients are unknown until time has passed. This action isn’t the fault of the company. It is a matter of not having the complete picture at the time when the ingredient was incorporated into the food or treat recipe.

For the pet owners wondering – are Milk Bones bad for dogs? All can rest assured, the popular treat is safe to give to dogs in moderation. 

Superb Dog Editor

Superb Dog Editor