Finding the Right Dog Food: What to Avoid

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dogfood_avoidChoosing the right food for your dog can be a daunting task. Many of us have found ourselves overwhelmed standing in the pet food aisle, staring down a long line of bags, boxes, and cans, all promising to provide the very best and complete nutrition for our pets.

In an industry that is highly under-regulated, one that basically allows manufacturers to make whatever claims about health and nutrition they want, no matter how truthful, it’s important for pet parents to take an active role, to read labels, and to do their research.

After all, unlike humans that usually have a few different meals every day, with different protein sources, and a variety of ingredients, our dogs typically eat the same food every day, at every meal. Because of this simple fact, finding food that is safe, even after months or years of daily consumption, is vitally important to their health and well-being.

The list below is hardly all-inclusive, but will point you in the right direction to find the perfect food for your furry family. When you find a pet food that leaves out these known harmful ingredients, it’s highly likely you’ve found a food that leaves out all the other junk used by the commercial pet food industry too.

Pet Food Ingredients to Avoid:

By-Products: By definition, a by-product is an incidental or secondary product made in the manufacture or synthesis of something else. In dog food, by-products can include parts of the meat protein source not normally suitable for use such as bones, skin, beaks, feet, feathers, intestines, even urine and fecal waste. Further, by-products, by law, CAN include tissue from dead, diseased, disabled, and dying animals. In the pet food industry, these are normally referred to as “The 4D’s.” By-products do not include healthy “muscle meats,” but rather, the parts normally discarded during meat processing. By nature, by-products can be high in protein and are used by many manufacturers as a cheap alternative to healthier meats.

Sugar: Sugars are a common ingredient in commercial dog food, usually disguised as sucrose, dextrose, maltodextrin, corn syrup, etc., because it makes the food tastier to a dog’s natural sweet-tooth. In addition to contributing to obesity, sugars interfere with your dog’s ability to digest protein, calcium, and other minerals and inhibits the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria. Studies have also shown that excessive sugar intake can lead to behavioral problems.

BHA/BHT: Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are chemical preservatives often added to pet food to lengthen their shelf life. The World Health Organization has deemed these chemicals “suspicious cancer-causing” compounds. Yet, both remain commonly used by the pet food industry to make our dog’s food last longer on the shelf. In addition to proven cancer-causing effects, BHA and BHT can cause allergic reactions, fetal abnormalities, and negatively affect kidney and liver function.

Ethoxyquin: (Also known as Santoquin) Another artificial preservative, ethoxyquin is also a pesticide. Prolonged ethoxyquin use has proven to destroy normal liver function. Although ethoxyquin is banned from use in human food, it can still be legally added to pet food. Still, due to controversy surrounding the ingredient, many pet food manufacturers don’t add the ingredient directly, but add it indirectly by using certain poultry and fish that contain it. In effect, when reading your pet food label, this ingredient may be present even when it’s not listed. Do your research and ask your manufacturer to be certain.

Sodium Nitrate: Sodium Nitrate is added to dog food to help it retain color. Since our dogs don’t see colors vividly, or make food choices based on what color they are, this ingredient is strictly used to enhance its appearance to humans. Besides being a completely unecessary ingredient in pet foods, sodium nitrates can cause cancers, severe arthritic symptoms, abnormalities of the dog’s immune system, and has even been linked to death.

Artificial Colors/Flavors: Artificial colors and flavors have both shown potential to be carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Choose foods that are naturally flavored with real, whole ingredients, without added artificial colors.

62 COMMENTS

  1. I dont think a full raw diet would suit most dogs..they are domesticated after all at this stage….if you were talking about wild dogs or wolves then a raw diet would be fine in that case

  2. I totally agree about the Propylene Glycol.. it is an antifreeze with “only” one third of the toxicity of regular antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol), but to that I would also add Glycerin and Sorbitol because, firstly, ALL can be contaminated with the killer compound Di-Ethylne Glycol (DEG).

    The Jatropha plant is used extensively in China to produce Oils, Biodiesel, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Sorbitol and Proteins. This highly toxic, non-food shrub is also grown in India and parts of Africa. Three seeds from this plant can kill an adult. Symptoms include vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis is generally diagnosed, and the kidneys and liver can both fail. Death can occur quickly.

    The FDA has issued new guidance about ingredients made from Jatropha curcas, a plant that has become popular in making biodiesel. The glycerin extracted in that process may contain toxins for which testing DOES NOT EXIST! Jatropha plants contain phorbol esters, which are toxic “both acute and chronic, to exposed humans and animals.” Oh yeah.. and Jatropha contains RICIN! The only test for this, developed by the Portuguese, is so expensive that it is only used in suspected terror cases and pet poisoning doesn’t count!

    The agency says it has not discovered any problems yet, but is trying to get out in front of the issue with the new rules. The plant has become popular in biodiesel production, the FDA says, because its seeds contain high levels of oil, the drought-resistant plant grows well in tropical and semi-tropical climates and it is relatively cheap to grow.

    The FDA is STILL TRYING TO DEVELOP A TEST FOR THE PRESENCE OF JATROPHA because of the jerky treat issue, and InPharm says that the FDA welcomes any assistance in that effort from the industry. Fiercepharmamanufacturing alerts the industry to be on the watch for Glycerin from Jatropha

    The FDA also notified the industry separately that “Products using oils, glycerin, or protein that were derived from the Jatropha plant may have TOXIC EFFECTS”

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    Until the FDA or the industry has positively identified the cause the death of these unfortunate — and innocent — animals, why expose your pet to these avoidable risks?

    Avoid feeding potentially deadly jerky treats. Don’t buy them. Or if you already have, take them back to the store you got them from.

    Avoid ANY pet food containing Propylene Glycol, Sorbitol or Glycerin.. BENEFUL is 1% Propylene Glycol. Kibbles n Bits, Purina Active Senior 7 Plus (Dry), Bruiser Dog Food (Dry), Purina Be Happy Dog Food (Dry), Kibble Select Complete (Dry), Purina Healthy Morsels (Dry) and Kibbles ‘n Bits Bistro Meals (Dry) also contain Propylene Glycol. Jerky treats are typically 18% PG. Some Jerky Treats are no longer made using Propylene Glycol.. but are now using Glycerin.. from the same source, and, as you know, pets are STILL dying!

    Always REPORT any adverse food reactions to your State’s Dept of Agriculture:

    and to the state/regional FDA!

  3. Propylene glycol is a controversial additive used to help preserve the moisture content in some commercial dog foods. You may already recognize this chemical by its more “infamous” use: as the key component in newer automotive antifreeze.
    It’s banned in cat food and I think it should be banned in dog food too. It has no nutritional value what so ever no smell and tastes sweet! Check out Dog Food Adviseor http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/red-flag-ingredients/propylene-glycol-dog-food-aid-or-automotive-anti-freeze/

    • I totally agree about the Propylene Glycol.. it is an antifreeze with “only” one third of the toxicity of regular antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol), but to that I would also add Glycerin and Sorbitol because, firstly, ALL can be contaminated with the killer compound Di-Ethylne Glycol (DEG).

      The Jatropha plant is used extensively in China to produce Oils, Biodiesel, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Sorbitol and Proteins. This highly toxic, non-food shrub is also grown in India and parts of Africa. Three seeds from this plant can kill an adult. Symptoms include vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis is generally diagnosed, and the kidneys and liver can both fail. Death can occur quickly.

      The FDA has issued new guidance about ingredients made from Jatropha curcas, a plant that has become popular in making biodiesel. The glycerin extracted in that process may contain toxins for which testing DOES NOT EXIST! Jatropha plants contain phorbol esters, which are toxic “both acute and chronic, to exposed humans and animals.” Oh yeah.. and Jatropha contains RICIN! The only test for this, developed by the Portuguese, is so expensive that it is only used in suspected terror cases and pet poisoning doesn’t count!

      The agency says it has not discovered any problems yet, but is trying to get out in front of the issue with the new rules. The plant has become popular in biodiesel production, the FDA says, because its seeds contain high levels of oil, the drought-resistant plant grows well in tropical and semi-tropical climates and it is relatively cheap to grow.

      The FDA is STILL TRYING TO DEVELOP A TEST FOR THE PRESENCE OF JATROPHA because of the jerky treat issue, and InPharm says it welcomes any assistance in that effort from the industry.

      Read more: FDA wants industry to watch for glycerin from Jatropha –
      http://www.fiercepharmamanufacturing.com/story/fda-wants-industry-watch-glycerin-jatropha/2012-07-10#ixzz2iYgZocBN

      FDA Notification to Industry: Products using oils, glycerin, or protein that were derived from the Jatropha plant may have TOXIC EFFECTS

      Read more: http://www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/IndustryNoticesandGuidanceDocuments/ucm391133.htm

      Deadly Chinese Dog Treats – Could This Be the Cause? Dog Food Advisor

      http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-news/chinese-dog-treats-glycerin/

      THE BOTTOM LINE

      Until the FDA or the industry has positively identified the cause the death of these unfortunate — and innocent — animals, why expose your pet to these avoidable risks?

      Avoid feeding potentially deadly jerky treats. Don’t buy them. Or if you already have, take them back to the store you got them from.

      Avoid ANY pet food containing Propylene Glycol, Sorbitol or Glycerin.. BENEFUL is 1% Propylene Glycol. Kibbles n Bits, Purina Active Senior 7 Plus (Dry), Bruiser Dog Food (Dry), Purina Be Happy Dog Food (Dry), Kibble Select Complete (Dry), Purina Healthy Morsels (Dry) and Kibbles ‘n Bits Bistro Meals (Dry) also contain Propylene Glycol. Jerky treats are typically 18% PG. Some Jerky Treats are no longer made using Propylene Glycol.. but are now using Glycerin.. from the same source, and, as you know, pets are STILL dying!

      Always REPORT any adverse food reactions to your State’s Dept of Agriculture:

      and to the state/regional FDA!

  4. How about avoiding “dog food” altogether? My dogs (Pointer, pit mix, German shepherd/Great Dane mix and Yorkie) all eat raw whole chicken backs, from the butcher to their bowl. Dog food companies are in business to make a profit for their investors, not to make your dog healthy. What is dog food but a way to kill your dog as slowly as possible?

    • How about the fact that here in Calif. alone we have had many recalls of chicken and beef. I wouldn’t feed raw food like that. I follow the above list and give vet approved veggies and fruits to our 12 year old dog.

      • I live in CA as well and have never heard of any recall of chicken or beef. I’ve been feeding raw for 11 years.

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