Ethoxyquin in Dog Food. Worth the Risk?
What is Ethoxyquin?
Ethoxyquin is a controversial and artificial ingredient that has been used in dog food for many years—it was approved as an additive to pet food in 1959. Ethoxyquin is also used in pesticides and as a rubber preservative.
Common names for Ethoxyquin
Other than alternative chemical names, there are no other common names for Ethoxyquin.
Why is Ethoxyquin in dog food?
Ethoxyquin is added to dog food as a preservative. It is an artificial anti-oxidant that is more potent than natural preservatives like vitamin C, vitamin E, and rosemary extract.
Is Ethoxyquin a commonly used ingredient in dog food?
Ethoxyquin no longer a common dog food ingredient. Searching our dog food database, we found it present in less than 1% of all dog foods. However, it is likely that it is much more common than that. Why? Because it can be added to processed ingredients before shipping to the food manufacturer. In these cases, the food manufacturer either doesn’t know or doesn’t report that it is part of the food recipe. One common example is Ethoxyquin used to preserve fish meal, although it can also be used in meat meals as well.
Common benefits or risks of Ethoxyquin
The only real benefit from Ethoxyquin is as a food preservative. However, there are other natural and potentially safer, (and more expensive) preservatives available.
There have been numerous studies debating the health risk of Ethoxyquin to pets. In “Ethoxyquin: An Antioxidant Used in Animal Feed”, Błaszczyk, Augustyniak, and Skolimowski do an excellent job of summarizing significant findings related to Ethoxyquin and its impact on pet health. The authors report that common side effects from ingesting Ethoxyquin, albeit at doses greater than is allowed in pet food, include loss of weight, changes in liver, changes in kidney, changes in alimentary duct, and colored urine, skin, or fur. There has also been a suspected link to Ethoxyquin and cancer although this has not been scientifically validated for doses in the allowable range.
Slimdoggy Ingredient Comfort Level
In our opinion, Ethoxyquin is an ingredient to avoid. Although low doses of Ethoxyquin might be safe, we believe it is best to avoid it when possible for two reasons:
- If you feed your pet the same food over a long period of time and it contains Ethoxyquin, either as a direct ingredient or as part of the fish or meat meal that is used in the formulation, it would seem logical that there is a chance of a cumulative effect that could cause health problems even at ‘safe’ dosage levels.
- There are safer, more natural preservative choices available so why risk feeding your dog something that has the potential to cause harm and is not even approved for human consumption?
Miscellaneous facts about Ethoxyquin
Ethoxyquin is not approved for use in human foods other than as a color preservative for spices chili powder, ground chili, and paprika.
Sources and further reading
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