Three Pet Food Additives to Avoid

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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.


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  1. We can’t imagine dogs wanting red or yellow food when they can’t even see those colors. How stupid do the makers think we are?
    jan recently posted…How marketing turned young girls into diamond whoresMy Profile

    • Ha ha, how stupid? Even Honey’s 5 * rated food is formed in the shape of little hearts.

      Yep, she doesn’t care.
      Pamela recently posted…Do Dogs Get Smarter?My Profile

  2. No real surprises. The red food color is even bad for humans, as is anti freeze. How that Propylene glycol is legal anywhere but under the hood of a car is just wrong.
    Emma recently posted…Jaws! Call Of The Wild Hound!My Profile

  3. Those are definitely three ingredients to avoid. Nastiness.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Up To My Eyeballs….My Profile

  4. Excellent post. I have read about Propylene glycol – it is found often in pet treats. I remember reading once that a few small dogs have perished because of it as they could not absorb it well. That is when I began dehydrating chicken tenders for doggy treats. TY for the reminder!
    Marcia Weiser recently posted…Boyfriend says he received mysterious text after pregnant girlfriend's disappearanceMy Profile

  5. I agree 100%. I don’t want anything added to their food unless it is essential for their health and well-being. No generally safe for us! BOL!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…A Birthday to RememberMy Profile

  6. I hate all these chemical additives! And I hate that they’re even still legal for use in food stuffs, whether it be human or non-human! And I hate the over-use of “All Natural”! Since when is “hickory smoke flavor” natural?!
    Callie, Shadow, and Ducky’s Mom recently posted…Senior Eye Exam ScheduledMy Profile

  7. My neighbor’s lab (two years old) drank a bowl of anti-freeze while visiting relatives and was paralyzed in less than 24 hours. Yes, they had to put her to sleep – so careless and tragic. They were draining the car, and left the bowl unattended and then let the pup out alone. No words…

  8. I have recently seen propylene glycol in some treats and I would not feed them to my dogs. If I wouldn’t eat it myself (and I guess it’s a good thing that I’ve started making my own salad dressing and try to bake cakes from scratch), I wouldn’t give it to my dogs. I don’t care what they say to defend themselves.
    I look forward to your series!
    Jan K recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – Tough DayMy Profile

  9. Propylene glycol?? Seriously and they had the nerve to defend adding it to their formulation? Wow.

  10. You make a very valuable point that a lot of pet owners probably don’t think about. Manufacturers claim that these additives are safe because they’re used in human food, but humans don’t eat the same food (with additives) every single day. Thanks for pointing that out! 🙂
    Elaine recently posted…A Dog’s TongueMy Profile

  11. Great list! I was reading ingredients in some food this weekend and was surprised to see coloring. I didn’t understand why it needed to be there and I was curious what color they were adding or enhancing. Either way, it wasn’t something that I think people should feed their dogs.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Can Dogs with a History of Urinary Stones Eat Raw?My Profile

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