Are Milk Bones Good For Dogs?

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Written by Teresa Eckert

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We all love our pets, there’s no doubt about it!  They are part of the family, especially if you got them when they were just pups.  Their health is important to all of you, so you bathe them, brush them, feed them healthy foods, make sure they get enough exercise, buy them toys and give them a safe place to rest.  Oh, and treats, don’t forget the treats!  

Treats are good to use to reward your pup when they go potty, when they learn new commands and those entertaining tricks.  Yup, treats are important and have been around forever. Milk-Bones are one of the oldest and most widely known dog treat!  

These bone-shaped dog biscuits were created in 1908 and are not bones, nor made from bones.  They are made from minerals, meat products and milk. This dry and crunchy treat has been a long time favorite for dogs all around the world.  They are known to remove the buildup of tartar and plaque, while freshening your dog’s breath.

However, it also has had its share of controversy over the years, with dog owners asking, are Milk-Bones good for our dogs?  

 What Are Milk-Bones Made Of? 

Although Milk-Bones were created in 1908, there are bound to have been some changes to their formulation throughout the years – right? Well, these are the three main ingredients listed for Milk-Bones:

  • Wheat
  • Beef
  • Milk

If your dog is not allergic to any of the above items, then you should have no problems as long as the Milk-Bones are given in moderation.  Here is a more complete list of what you will find as ingredients on a box of Milk Bones:

  • Wheat Flour
  • Wheat Bran
  • Meat and Bone Meal
  • Milk
  • Wheat Germ
  • Beef Fat (Preserved with BHA)
  • Salt
  • Natural Flavor
  • Dicalcium Phosphate
  • Calcium Carbonate
  • Brewer's Dried Yeast
  • Malted Barley Flour
  • Sodium Metabisulfite (Used as a Preservative)
  • Choline Chloride
  • Vitamins & Minerals (Calcium, Folic Acid, Biotin, Vitamins A, D, E & B12

Milk-Bones are said to be a wholesome, tasty and delicious treat that anyone would feel good about giving to their pets because it is fortified to help keep their dogs at their best.  It is even tested for safety, meeting the “applicable standards and specifications of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Association of American Feed Control Officials, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration”.  So why the controversy?

Why the Controversy?

The controversy started with the realization that BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) was used in Milk-Bones. BHA is commonly used as a preservative and is known as a carcinogen. Research studies have shown that BHA has consistently produced tumors in lab animals. It has also been known to cause kidney and liver damage in pets. Hence, the concerns regarding the usage in dog foods, treats, etc.


As stated earlier, if your dog does not have allergies to beef, wheat or milk, the three main ingredients in Milk-Bones, then things should be fine. However, if your dog is allergic to any of the ingredients listed above, consumption of Milk-Bones should be avoided because it could cause rashes, vomiting and diarrhea.

Yay or Nay?

Have you decided yet?  Is it yay or nay?  Here is some additional information that may help in your decision.  


Although Milk-Bones contain the preservative BHA, the dosage is low enough that the product has passed all safety tests. After decades of research, BHA has generally been deemed safe for human and animal food products. Also, according to research, no Milk-Bone brand dog treats has ever been recalled. 


Another thing to think about, is that even though there is no significant data to indicate that there is a link between BHA and cancer in dogs, there might be a greater risk that others have not considered.  It’s a known fact that BHA is used as a preservative to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.


Still worried that there may be a potential risk to your dog?  That’s understandable, your pet is part of your family and you do not want to take any chances.  Well, here are two other options to consider instead of Milk-Bones.

  • Look for healthy treat alternatives that contain no preservatives or coloring (however, remember that consumption date will be days or weeks compared to months or a year)
  • Make your own treats so that you know exactly what is in it! 

Yay or nay?  The decision is up to you.  Do what you feel is best and what your dog likes.  Just remember that no matter what you decide, treats should make up 10% or less of your dog’s calories (small dog/pup) and should never be used to replace a meal.

Tips to Remember

  • Milk-Bones are not made from bones
  • Milk-Bones three main ingredients are – Wheat, Beef and Milk
  • Milk-Bones are fortified with 12 vitamins and minerals
  • Milk-Bones are used to control plaque and tartar buildup and freshen breath
  • Milk-Bones also contain BHA a preservative and food coloring that are known carcinogens
  • There are concerns regarding the use of BHA, but Milk-Bones has passed all necessary safety tests
  • There has never been a recall on any Milk-Bones product

Ultimately, the choice is yours!

About the author

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Teresa Eckert

Teresa is a co-founder of Golden Retriever Love and is the fur-mom to Annie the Golden Retriever and Remi the Chocolate Lab. Teresa enjoys spoiling her pups and occasionally writing some great content for us on this blog!

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