"Sugar has a role in the physical and taste characteristics of many products, helping to mask bitter flavors imparted by acidifying agents, or changing the texture of specific treat types," she said.
Still, consumers remain in the dark as to how much sugar commercial pet treats contain. Unlike human foods, the amount of sugar isn't listed on the label. New labeling regulations are currently being considered, though, that would reveal maximum sugar and starch content.
In response to questions about sugar in their pet food treats, Del Monte Foods released a prepared statement saying: "When used responsibly and in moderation, treats like [ours] add enjoyment and excitement to a dog's diet and foster the emotional bond between pets and pet parents, without contributing to weight gain. Nutritional needs vary based on factors such as breed, size and activity level."
The statement added, "Del Monte recommends that consumers consult their veterinarian for snack-feeding guidelines that will give their pets the nutrition they need and the taste and excitement they crave. "
Ward, the author of Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter, said that he's not anti-sugar or anti-snack for pets. He just wants people to make better choices when it comes to the foods they give their pets.
One way to do that is by ditching calorie-dense cookies for what's in the refrigerator, Larsen added.
"Owners forget that human foods, especially fruits and vegetables, make excellent and healthy treats, which are more cost-effective than commercial pet treats," she said.
Apples, berries and carrots are nutritious and low-calorie snacks for dogs. Salmon or tuna flakes are healthy options for cats. But, she added, pet owners should always avoid food known to be harmful to pets such as garlic, onions, grapes, macadamia nuts, and chocolate.
At the end of the day, treats should
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