- Hahnbee Choi, Cert. CN
What’s Really In a WHIMZEES?
Updated: Jul 9, 2022
The "What's Really In The Bag" series is in no way, shape, or form meant to bash any brand or owner. This empowers you with the information needed to make the best decision for you and your pets! While a fresh food diet is always favorable, it is understandable that not everyone can feed 100% raw. But by knowing what you are feeding and continuously doing better, you are taking active steps in the right direction.
Rather than a food, today we will be analyzing a popular dental chew, Whimzees. As always, the first 5 ingredients will be featured below alongside notable other ingredients.
Potato Starch, Glycerin, Powdered Cellulose, Lecithin, Dried Yeast, Malt Extract, Sweet Lupin Meal, Alfalfa Extract, Paprika Extract.
 Potato Starch
Potato starch is extracted from potatoes. It is a binding ingredient for the chew and the main ingredient in the plant-based treat. This ingredient is entirely made of carbohydrates and offers no additional nutrients. Whimzees state that potato starch is a "great source of energy." Yes, carbohydrates are an excellent energy source, but it does not conclude that it is the most suitable source. A study funded by the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, part of Mars Petcare, found that the dogs studied regulated their intake of macronutrients to primarily fat versus carbs.
Potatoes have a high starch content and may be suitable for omnivores, but as facultative carnivores with no requirements for carbohydrates, starchy carbohydrates are an unnecessary addition. While dogs may be able to digest starch, it does not imply they will thrive on a high-starch diet long-term.
*While dogs have no requirements for carbohydrates, adding high-quality carbohydrates can be beneficial, such as fruits & veggies.
Glycerin is a humectant often added to achieve a chewy texture, keep the treat moist and avoid spoilage. It is a by-product of soap and biodiesel production. Dutch researcher Anton. C Beynen wrote, “Practical feeding of glycerol-containing pet foods has apparently not yielded observations that point to negative effects on canine and feline health. However, for long-term, practical intake levels of purified and crude glycerol, the current research data cannot exclude health risks. Perhaps, the ingestion of glycerol added in complete, semi-moist food can overwhelm catabolic capacity in puppies and cats, having as yet unknown clinical correlations.” The purity of marketplace glycerol is questionable, according to Beynen.
 Powdered Cellulose
Powdered cellulose is a fiber source derived from processing raw plant fiber (usually wood) to separate the cellulose. Cellulose is used in many human and pet products as it is cheap. It’s even used in parmesan cheese at up to 8% cellulose. While it is safe to consume, it offers no nutritional value. According to the FDA, cellulose can be used as an “emulsifier, film former, protective colloid, stabilizer, suspending agent, thickener in food, or binder in dietary supplements.” There has been no report of side effects apart from it having a laxative effect when consumed in large portions as its fiber.
Lecithin is classified as an emulsifier sourced from a mixture of fats, primarily from soybeans, sunflowers, and eggs. Lecithin is a vital factor for the outer surface of body cells. The dog’s liver synthesizes enough lecithin; therefore, it is not an essential nutrient. While there have been several human trials and the benefits of lecithin, dog trials have yet to be conducted. As soy lecithin is the most commonly used, it could be a high sensitivity rate food as soy is a frequent perpetrator.
 Dried Yeast
It seems as if “dried yeast” is referring to Baker’s Yeast, though it is unspecified. However, assuming it is Baker’s Yeast, it would be ill-suited for any yeasty dogs as it will aggravate the situation. While it is high in B-vitamins, nutritional yeast is much more logical as it does not interfere with yeasty pets as its inactive.
Malt Extract: Sweet, sourced from barley, works as a preservative, adds taste, and primarily carbohydrates. Most likely for coloring (brown).
Sweet Lupin Meal: Derived from lupin beans
Alfalfa Extract: An herbal supplement with an array of health benefits, but the effects are questionable this far down the ingredients list. Most likely for the green coloring (green).
Paprika Extract: Most likely for coloring (red).
This chew is VOHC accepted, but I would argue the only reason behind the reduction of plaque and tartar is due to the product encouraging thorough chewing (versus the ingredients), which kibble or canned-fed dogs do not often do. Kibble-fed dogs mostly swallow their food whole, or the kibble initiates contact with only the tip of the tooth as it shatters or crumbles. While this product may encourage mechanical cleansing, there are better alternatives such as bully sticks, dehydrated tendons, ears, and raw meaty bones (RMBs), which are all single-ingredient chews that will be much more stimulating and scrumptious.
Whether fresh-fed or kibble-fed, diet alone cannot replace regular and consistent dental care. Although fresh-fed dogs often report significantly better dental hygiene, the occurrence of plaque and tartar is still possible. Thus, a proper dental regime focusing on multiple aspects is the best way to create pearly whites. Moreover, while the appeal for a cute dental chew is there, a closer inspection reveals that it may not be the best option.