Three Pet Food Additives to Avoid
When choosing a food for your dog, it is just as important to consider what should NOT be in the food as to consider what should be in the food. Today, I am focusing on some ingredients that should not be in a dog’s food. And when it comes to ingredients to avoid, there are several food additives that are on the top of my “must avoid” list.
Chemical additives are at best, risky to a pet’s health and at worst, can cause serious health problems. Unfortunately, the commercial pet industry has, for years, relied far too heavily on artificial additives to keep costs down and profits up. Although the industry is evolving and there are many more higher quality food choices available today than there were just ten years ago, there are still far too many pet foods that still contain these dubious ingredients. Below are three such ingredients to watch for.
Ethoxyquin. Used as a preservative in pet foods, Ethoxyquin is used as a pesticide and has been linked to liver and kidney cancer in dogs. Ethoxyquin can also be a hidden ingredient in the dog food recipe as it can be included in some meals (e.g. fish meal) without having to be explicitly called out on the food’s ingredient panel.
Propylene glycol. Used as a humectant and preservative, propylene glycol is an ingredient commonly found in anti-freeze. Propylene glycol can also enhance the sweetness of a pet food. One of the larger pet food brands has argues that this is a perfectly fine ingredient for dogs because it is “generally recognized as safe” for human consumption in salad dressings and cake mixes. To this I say bunk! First off all, humans don’t tend to eat salad dressing or cake every day of their life, while often times, a dog will eat the same food for most of its lifetime. Would you risk your pet’s health to prolonged exposure of antifreeze? Second of all, being “generally recognized as safe” should raise some red flags. If it was safe, it would be recognized as safe, not generally safe.
Artificial colors and color protectants. Red #3 or #40, Yellow 5 or 6, or other artificial colorings, as well as chemicals that keep a food’s color longer, like nitrates and sulfates, do not belong in a dog’s food. Food dyes are used to make the food look more appealing to the human. Trust me, your dog doesn’t care what color the food is!
Some artificial colorings and protectants have been linked to cancer in rats and are linked to several health problems in humans and dogs including diarrhea, vomiting, and chronic allergic symptoms. Why would you risk the potential health issues just to make your dog’s food look more colorful to you?
There are so many other healthier ingredients that can be used in pet food (and human food) that can do the same jobs of the artificial offenders listed above. The problem is that many people don’t know about which ingredients to include and which to avoid. This gives me an inspiration for a new series that I am thinking about calling “Feed This, Not That”, which will list and discuss a good and a bad ingredient alternative for a given food function. Stay tuned for the first part next week.