The pet food industry is big business, and like any big business, it’s all about money. Lot’s and lot’s of it. Annually, Americans are spending over $21 billion on pet food to keep our furry friends full and healthy. We want them to have the very best!
But, how do we know if what we’re spending all that dough on is really good for our babies? Speaking specifically of dog food, the ingredients list on the huge bags we have to practically employ a forklift to get into the back of the car can be as big, misshapen and cumbersome as the bag itself. Like, what in the name of all that’s good and pure is “ethoxyquin?” We’re not food scientists, but we’re pretty sure that doesn’t translate to something good.
We love our pets, there’s no doubt about that. Wanting them to be healthy just comes with the territory and making informed decisions about the food that we provide them is a basic part of that. There are tons of fantastic recipes for homemade dog foods and treats along with plenty of resources about what kind of nutrition they need and foods to avoid in order to achieve maximum wellness for your pooch. We have a feeling that giving them something wholesome and pure would bring a sweet little glint to their eye, as opposed to the horror we’d see if they only knew that they were eating this stuff!
Banned in both the EU and Australia, this ingredient is under investigation by the FDA for possibly causing some blood and liver issues. Used as a preservative in dog food, it’s also a pesticide and is used as a hardening agent in the manufacture of synthetic rubber. Yum!
2. Propylene Glycol
Used as a humectant to keep dry food, well, dry. The thing about it is though, it doesn’t stop there. Once ingested, this nasty preservative acts in the same way on your dogs digestive tract, drying out their stomach and intestinal linings. This can lead to intestinal blockages as well as malignant lesions in the intestinal walls.
Also known as butylated hydroxyanisole, it’s been observed to consistently cause certain types of tumors in animals and is listed in the state of California under “Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity.”
Banned in Japan, Romania, Sweden and Australia, butylated hydroxytoluene extends the shelf life of dog food, just like it does in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, rubber, jet fuels, petroleum products, the oil in electrical transformers and even embalming fluid. Along with evidence that it could be carcinogenic, it’s also been linked to notable behavioral changes as the liver may be unable to process it and it builds up in the system.
Tertiary Butylhydroquinone is a stabilizer commonly used in explosives. While it would seem a bit of overkill, considering that the risk of your pet’s food suddenly going thermonuclear is likely fairly low, pet food companies employ it to extend shelf life by prolonging the onset of rancidness. That’s not all it does though! Long term exposure shows that it can cause stomach cancer, DNA damage and it can effect estrogen levels in females. It can also cause delirium, tinnitus, hyperactivity and nausea at high levels.
6. Propyl Gallate
One of the more commonly used preservatives in dog food, it’s a preservative that prevents oxidation. You can find it in lipstick, bath items, skin cleansers, lotions and tanners too. Known as a “xenoestrogen” for it’s ability to mimic estrogen, it can cause reproductive issues and is potentially cancer causing.
7. Corn Syrup/Corn
Dogs do not digest corn very well, which can lead to allergies, joint inflammation and bloat. It can also cause behavioral issues such as hyperactivity, anxiety, energy rushes and crashes due to the sugary content. Used primarily as a filler it has no canine nutritional benefit and can actually contribute to weight problems as well.
This typically refers to the internal remains of an animal such as turkey, chicken, lamb or fish that are left over after that animal is produced for another product. Often times these organs or tissues are diseased and can even contain tumors.
9. Meat and Bone Meal
Like “by-product”, this is the remnants of an animal that can’t be consumed by humans and thusly labeled “feed grade.” Pet food containing these ingredients have been tested by the FDA to reveal they are often contaminated with pentobarbital, an anesthetic used for euthanasia.
10. Caramel Color
While artificial colors are never a good thing, caramel color specifically contains 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), which is a known carcinogen for dogs. It’s presence in pet food is just to pretty it up, it has no nutritional benefit whatsoever.
11. Rendered Fat
Not only is rendered fat a potential source for Salmonella and heavy metal contaminants, it’s also capable of growing dangerous mold if a bag of dry food with the ingredient comes into contact with moisture.
Lead Image Credit: Cry Havoc