Pros: inexpensive, dogs like them, supposedly cleans teeth, 12 essential vitamins, made in America
Cons: many ingredients are suspect
That's right, dogs have an amazing sense of smell and instinct. Perhaps that's part of the reason my three German Shepherds (Tonka, Mynka and Scooby) will not even take a Milkbone dog biscuit. The only two "cookies" they will take are the Kirkland brand and these VitaBone brand dog biscuits. Of course, we haven't tried all brands of dog cookies, but those are the two they seem to love the most (so far).
During the week, our dogs are awakened with the phrase, "Who wants cookies?" and they spring to life with an amusing treat exuberance that only a dog can exhibit. On the weekends, however, we try to sleep in but our dogs lets us know when treat time is. I find it even more amusing that my wife and I have to spell the word "cookie" so the dogs don't trample us with their hunger dance frenzy. It's a good thing dogs never learn how to spell. I love watching the three dogs crowd around the table - waiting in an almost frozen state for their morning cookies. For whatever reason, my wife has taught Tonka a funny trick. She'll put a VitaBone cookie on his nose, balance it there until she says "okay" and he tosses it up in the air and tries to grab it in his mouth. Needless to say, he's gotten pretty good at it, but sometimes they wind up in pieces after he's tossed them into a wall or the ceiling. Good times. Tonka's mom, Mynka, has another approach. She hoards them in the corner by her bed. If any other dog comes near them, she let out a guttural growl. It's almost as if she's daring the other dogs to steal her cookies. Dog behavior is so interesting.
Now, let's get back to VitaBone dog biscuits. Each biscuit is in the shape of a dog bone and has the VitaBone name on the face. The box is made of 100% recycled paper - which is a good thing for the environment. I'm also happy that there's a "best before" date stamped on each box. American Nutrition (f.k.a. Animal Nutrition) produces three sizes of "VitaBone" biscuits - small, medium and large in Ogden, Utah - NOT China. Each size has a box of the regular (chicken and fish) flavor and a variety pack of flavors that include, chicken, fish, liver and cheese. I suppose the small biscuits could be used as a training aid for large dogs. These dry biscuits have about a year shelf life.
Now let's discuss the ingredients...
The American Nutrition website lists the ingredients of VitaBone as;
Wheat Flour, Poultry Meal, Ground Wheat, Ground Corn, Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat (Preserved with BHA), Fish Meal, Brewers Dried Yeast with Molasses and Yeast Extract, Salt, Calcium Carbonate…
I wonder why they stopped there, because the box lists quite a few more ingredients such as...
potassium chloride, zinc oxide, wheat bran, beef tallow (preserved with mixed Tocopherols - a source of vitamin E), ferrrous sulfate, vitamin A - acetate, D-activated animal sterol (source of vitamin D3), vitamin E supplement, vitamin B12 supplement, manganous oxide, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, niacin, calcium pantothenate, pyridoxide hydrochloride, folic acid, biotin, copper sulfate, choline chloride, calcium iodate and sodium selenite.
Is it really an analysis? Is it guaranteed? I ask those questions because the numbers on the box and the numbers on their website DO NOT MATCH. That's a bit suspect.
Crude Protein (Min.).....18.0%
Crude Fat (Min.) ..........5.0%
Crude Fiber (Max.) .......3.0%
Moisture (Max.) ...........10.0%
Ash (Max.) ..................8.5%
Calcium (Min.) ..............0.6%
Phosphorus (Min.) .........0.5%
Vitamin A (Min.) ...........5,000 IU/kg
Vitamin D3 (Min.) ..........500 IU/kg
Vitamin E (Min.) ............50 IU/kg
Thiamine (B1) (Min.) ......2.0 mg/kg
Riboflavin (B2) (Min.) .....3.0 mg/kg
Pantothenic Acid (Min.) ..10.0 mg/kg
Niacin (Min.) .................20.0 mg/kg
Pyridoxine (B6) (Min.) .....2.0 mg/kg
Folic Acid (Min.) ............0.25 mg/kg
Biotin (Min.) .................0.15 mg/kg
Vitamin B12 (Min.) .........0.03 mg/kg
Choline (Min.) ...............1200 mg
Other than the fact that they list corn and wheat (two things not so good for a dog's digestive system) they include things like BHA, potassium chloride, poultry and fish "meal." Could the word "meal" actually be a euphemism for "by-products?"
Final Words: With respect to VitaBone biscuits, there are much better and much worse treat options for your dogs. VitaBone biscuits are made in America, they're inexpensive and my dogs like them, so we offer these treats to our dogs with some reservations and not every day. We only feed our dogs the best dry food available, but it's getting to the point where we're seriously considering making our own dog treats to be in control of the ingredients.
After writing this review and after looking at the ingredient list more closely, I have decided that this box of VitaBone biscuits will be my dog's last box until American Nutrition wakes up and updates their ingredient list.
If consumers stand together and make these companies realize that dogs are not just things we have around - like house plants - maybe these companies will raise the bar of healthy ingredients in foods and snacks. In recent years, there are smaller companies doing just that - finally.
As for recommendation... I would say "not recommended" to most dog lovers because of the suspect ingredients. Compared to other brands, VitaBone is not the worst though. But, if you have a bunch of dogs and you're on a budget, these VitaBone biscuits will suffice - for a while.
In either case, I would urge you to find a better K9 biscuit option if you love your dog(s).
In the end, consumers should really start reading the ingredients found on pet products.
Please show your pets all the love and affection you have each day because you never know when their time on Earth is up.
Please read my other dog treat reviews:
Wet Noses Organic Dog Treats
Natural Balance Food Roll - Beef
Waggin' Trail Chicken Jerky Treats
Bacon Beggin' Strips
Meaty Bone Dog Biscuits