20 Harmful Ingredients in Pet Food

Anyone who follows my social media understands that I am extremely picky about what I will feed my pets. I am very vocal about the atrocities being committed daily by large pet feed companies and the FDA's lack of enforcement of pet feed law. The following are a few ingredients I never want to see on a pet food label: (but sadly these ingredients are fed to pets around the world every single day)

  • Animal Digest - rendered un-named source of poor quality protein and flavor, most likely from 4D animals that have undergone chemical, acid, or enzymatic hydrolysis
  • BPA - used in plastics and can linings; higher levels of exposure have been linked to various health conditions including mental and behavioral problems, reproductive disorders, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. May be associated with hyperthyroidism in cats.
  • BHA - banned in many countries, carcinogen, used as a preservative, may be found in Pedigree and Kibbles N Bits
  • BHT - banned in many countries, carcinogen, used as a preservative, may be found in Pedigree and Kibbles N Bits
  • Carrageenan - binder, has been shown to cause intestinal inflammation (IBD, IBS), found in many pet foods, particularly canned foods
  • Corn - used as a filler and cheap protein source. Look for foods made with high quality meat sources, not loads of corn. Almost all corn is GMO. Commonly contaminated with mycotoxins (mold toxins) which can cause liver failure.
  • Food dyes - many have been shown to be carcinogenic, cause hyperactivity, and allergic reactions; no place in food other than to make it more appealing to the pet owner. May be found in Beneful, Kibbles N Bits, Moist and Meaty, and many others
  • Ethoxyquin - preservative, carcinogenic, may be added to fish prior to unloading from the boat and does not have to be listed on the label, often associated with the development of kidney and liver damage, cancer (liver, spleen, stomach, skin), immune deficiency syndrome, blindness, and leukemia.
  • Gluten - may be found in grains or as a stand-alone on the ingredient panel, often used as a binder, common allergen causing yeasty ears, hot spots, and skin infections
  • Sugar in any form - corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, sugar, molasses, caramel - all contribute to obesity and diabetes, as well as yeast infections. Artificial sweeteners like xylitol and sorbitol are toxic for pets, yet may be found in some foods.
  • Meat and bone meal - unidentified meat and bone source, could be any animal from any source, usually of the lowest quality
  • Meat or Animal by-products - unidentified meat source, could be any animal from any source, usually of the lowest quality including diseased, spoiled, and cancerous meats, commonly found in all major brands including Purina, Royal Canin, Pedigree
  • MSG - common allergen, often listed on the label as hydrolyzed protein, protein isolate, texturized protein, natural flavors (like chicken flavor), autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extracts, soy extracts or concentrate, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, monopotassium glutamate, glutamate or glutanic acid, disodium inosinate or guaylate.
  • Menadione Sodium Bisulfate - synthetic version of vitamin K. highly toxic in high doses.  Hazard information regarding menadione states the substance is toxic to kidneys, lungs, liver, mucous membranes.  Repeated or prolonged exposure to the substance can produce target organs damage.
  • Sodium nitrite - approved preservative in pet foods, and can be toxic in high doses by causing a blood disorder called methaemoglobin. Its accumulation over time in the system has also been linked to cancer, especially when combined with added ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E), which are common natural vitamin sources, as well as preservatives.
  • Sodium hexametaphosphate - promises to reduce tartar, has been shown to cause skin irritation, kidney disease, and retarded growth, found in Iams and others
  • Sodium Tripolyphosphate - used as a preservative, insecticide, fungicide, and rodenticide. Harmful if inhaled and a skin irritant but considered safe to eat! Found in some bags of Pedigree and cans of Taste of the Wild. Used to reduce tartar.
  • Sodium Metabisulphite - can trigger severe allergic reactions in dogs. Exposure can also cause nervous system damage and issues with circulation. Used as a preservative and bleaching agent.
  • Rendered fat - most likely labeled as poultry fat or animal fat (unknown source), most likely from 4D animals (diseased), generally rancid and filled with fat soluble toxins
  • Propylene Glycol - used a a preservative and humectant, toxic to cats and banned in cat food, banned for food use in many countries, can cause Heinz body anemia. Avoid semi-moist foods where this is found.

If you are confused by the hundreds of choices for pet food, don't worry, you have lots of company. Pet owners are frustrated by dire warnings and the fact that big pet food companies just don't seem to care - it's all about the money. As a pet owner, it's up to you to learn how to read labels and understand exactly what you are putting in the bowl. Not everyone has the time, expertise, or money to make their own food, buy raw food, or buy the highest quality food available. But everyone CAN take the time to learn to read labels.

If you are looking to improve the quality of the food you supply to your beloved pet, head to your nearest independent pet store. These store owners take time to educate themselves about the quality of ingredients in different brands. They will be able to steer you toward something that will fit your budget and improve quality. Grocery store and big box store products are manufactured for the masses with little regard to producing the highest quality pet foods. These are NOT the best places to shop for pet food.

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