Ethoxyquin in Dog Food. Worth the Risk?

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Moving on to the letter E in our A to Z Dog Food Ingredient series, today we discuss why Ethoxyquin is in dog to Ethoxyquin_sm


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

slimdoggy frownIn 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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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  1. Seriously, I mean, who really needs a bag of dog food last 15 years or whatnot? Major downside of commercial kibble. All this stuff in it just to make it last.
    Jana Rade recently posted…Look Where You Want To Go: Finding My Reactive Dog Training Zen Zone?My Profile

  2. Great post on a nasty ingredient. Glad to see it is in <1% but can't believe it can still get through by being in some other ingredient. Didn't know that. Didn't know about the red spices either. Thanks for sharing.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Monday Mischief~Luring GeeseMy Profile

  3. Gee, what a comforting thought: “it can be added to the processed ingredients before shipping to the food manufacturer…” Just gives me the warm fuzzies all over. NOT.
    Sue recently posted…Callie’s Still on the DLMy Profile

  4. Thanks for the info. 🙂
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Sojos Simply Meat Treats And A Simply Great Give-AwayMy Profile

  5. Hmmm…interesting, and I went and checked ingredients as soon as I read this. Luckily, I didn’t find any!
    It doesn’t sound like very safe stuff! Thanks for sharing another great learning experience!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…The Returns book review – Adoptable husky OTWMy Profile

  6. The more I know about what is in our food (pet and human) the more scared I am…
    Sue recently posted…Merrick Big Brush Bones Dental Chews from | Product ReviewMy Profile

  7. I’m glad it is only rarely to find in dog food. Since I read your posts, I always look on the bags before I buy food. I noticed that they often use short cuts like “Eth.” (this could be ethoxyquin or ethanol or whatever), or “otc”, think that’s confusing, I better stay away from stuff with vague table of contents. Thanks for a great post, it’s good to know what we buy :o)
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog AUCTION TUESDAYMy Profile

  8. Ugh….I knew this sounded familiar, and not good, and turns out I had read that Mercola article you referenced. Our dog food does have different meals in it, but they also say there are no artificial preservatives.
    I also ran and checked my spices, but thank goodness they are OK. I just hate the thought of this stuff in any of our food, even if it is only in small quantities.
    Jan K recently posted…Why I Love Summer – Sepia SaturdayMy Profile

  9. If it is not a listed ingredient in some food, how do we know? Does all-natural or no artificial additives assure that it isn’t added? Some dog food companies are sneaky, which leads to recalls. *sigh*
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…Pierre Meets a TurtleMy Profile

  10. This gets scarier by the day – so depressing…
    I have heard of this before and even seen it listed in an abbreviated form.
    Thanks for all you do to educate and empower all of us :0 Your special Slimdoggy, and so appreciated.
    Cathy recently posted…ACADIA ANTLERS DOG CHEW REVIEWMy Profile

  11. It amazes me the things they put in our dog’s food. Checking all my spices now too…
    Kelsie recently posted…Healthy Joints, Happy DogMy Profile

  12. Thanks for sharing the info.
    Bailey recently posted…Keeping Up With Mom’s Veggie GardenMy Profile

  13. Now Mom is thinking she maybe shouldn’t be using Paprika, but she loves it…hmmm…she will have to see what is in it, since she buys it from a spice store.
    Emma recently posted…Put Your Best Paw Forward With Personalized Collars!My Profile

  14. I’m glad to hear this ingredient is now only found in about 1 percent of dog food brands. I had to smile at Jana’s comment. Seriously, why would we need dog food to last so long anyway?

    I think generally, most pet owners are willing to spend a bit more on dog food if they know the ingredients are safe.
    Lindsay recently posted…5 tips for managing a leash-reactive dogMy Profile

  15. More scary stuff to look for. So it can be in the food and there is no way to be sure since it could of been added to ingredients before manufacturing? I don’t mind paying more but is there something to look for to be sure it isn’t in the ingredients?
    Crazy Dog Life recently posted…Risky Dog BusinessMy Profile

    • It is hard to say how many brands are sourcing meals with artificial preservatives in them.

      The best way to be sure is to check the food brand’s website. See if they state that their food contains no artificial preservatives. You can also contact them and ask.

      Another option is to look for foods with only named proteins and no meals.
      steve recently posted…Running with your Dog to Burn CaloriesMy Profile

  16. This ingredient is the reason why I switched from Blue Buffalo to Life’s Abundance back when Rodrigo and Sydney were younger. I read an article about it and then flipped the bag over. I feel like I’ve read since that they no longer have this in their food. This was the first time I started trying to read the ingredients list and it was eye opening.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Exploring How We Avoided Littermate Syndrome TwiceMy Profile

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