Prevalent in today’s mass-produced dog food are artificial antioxidants ethoxyquin, butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA). Conversely, and thankfully, you and I can accomplish nearly the same levels of preservation with natural antioxidants like Vitamin E and Vitamin C, citric acid and even rosemary. Glycerin is another additive used as a food preservative, but some experts say it is dangerous. Personally, I only use two natural types of preservatives in everything that I bake: salt, and citrus juice, like lime or lemon. That’s it. My philosophy is to always feed the freshest food and treats possible. While I make treats, both the dog food industry and the treat businesses include some let’s just say, less than desirable ingredients in their products. Fresh is best, and if it needs preserving, I say the freezer is your best friend. There’s a difference between a food item you want to keep for a week or two, because perhaps you’re buying in bulk to save a shopping trip; and a food or fancy treat item that has a shelf life of literally years. Gross. Imagine the infamous desert cake – it can sit on a shelf in plastic packaging, in the sunshine sweating and gathering condensation and not mold, deteriorate, or even change color – why? How? That ever-present Conga-line of shit. That desert cake is an overprocessed, chemically engineered food product that is somehow fit for consumption that has little to no nutritional value. Bart – n – Biscuits is the antithesis of the aforementioned desert cake. I will never do this. I will stay up late baking fresh treats before I put any shit in anything I make. Period.
In terms of what I avoid, a good start is any artificial food additive that are known to cause health issues – typically if it’s not good for human consumption, it’s likely not good for your dog either. There are of course, exceptions. For example food dye is completely unnecessary in dog food and treats – I will use it on occasion because even I like my products to look good (ooohhh the vanity!), but it really isn’t necessary. When I do choose to use it I keep it to a minimum, and I use a natural coloring where I can – beet juice is a great example. It provides some nutritional value by imparting vitamins and happens to be a pretty purplish/red natural food dye. That’s what I call a win win! Why, because we eat with our eyes first and we do it for our doggos too. If it doesn’t look appetizing, are you going to pick it up and put it in your mouth? Heck no! Since we buy for our dogs, we tend to buy those items that “look good” just as if that treat was meant for us. What is the first thing you do when you pick up a package of treats? You look directly into the cellophane window to inspect it. I do it too! (And, as an important note – everything I make is human grade, I taste test everything.) And we do it without even thinking about it. But dogs don’t give a rip what color it is. What they care about is how it smells. Can you imagine if they ate with their eyes? They’d starve to death in the wild! Natural, that is my choice. Because what you feed them is important.