Substandard Ingredients in Commercial Pet Food
Dog Food Ingredients Checklist
Substandard Ingredients in Commercial Pet Food:
There are a number of ingredients that have made their way into pet foods over the years which are not beneficial to our pets. They are nutritionally depleted at best and potentially harmful at worst. Below are some of the ingredients to look out for and to avoid when choosing your pet’s food.
- Meat by-products: This means the “by-products” from the meat, but does not include meat. It could be lungs, spleen, kidneys, brains, liver, blood, bone, and intestines. Some of these things can be quite good for pets if they come from a good source, but this labeling term does not inform you of the source and these items should not be the main ingredient in your pet’s base diet.
- Meat meal: A generic listing of “meat meal” can consist of just about any conceivable meat source and should be avoided. However, named meals, such as “chicken meal” or “beef meal,” refer to the cooked tissue of the animal type named. These meals are good sources of concentrated animal protein.
- Grains and starches: Dogs are scavenging carnivores and cats are obligate carnivores. This means that they have no carbohydrate requirement, so grains and starches should be kept to a minimum. Corn, wheat, and soy can also be common allergens for dogs and cats but are commonly used as cheap fillers and even to increase protein values although they are not biologically appropriate. Other grains that are found in dog food are barley, rye, oats, white and brown rice, to name a few, and it is best to choose foods that limit, or omit, the use of them as much as possible.
- Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat Gluten, and Gluten: Corn gluten meal is a by-product from the manufacture of sweeteners, such as corn syrup. It is an inexpensive protein source and binder used in kibble that is sometimes used to raise the crude protein analysis in dry food. It is not a highly digestible or usable source of protein for pets. Heavy consumption can also lead to allergic reactions. Gluten comes from grains, such as wheat, rye, barley and triticale, and can also lead to allergic reactions in pets when consumed too much. It is best to look out for any “gluten” on a pet food label.
- Beet Pulp: Beet pulp is the dried residue from the sugar beet. It is controversial because some tout it as a good source of fiber and prebiotics, but others view it as another unnecessary by-product filler. Too much can bind a pet’s digestive tract.
- Chemical Preservatives (BHT, BHA, Ethoxyquin, Propylene Glycol, Sodium Nitrate and Nitrite): BHT and BHA have raised some concerns because they are known carcinogens. Ethoxyquin is not approved for use in human foods in the USA, but it is legal to put it in pet food. Propylene glycol is a preservative found in some dog foods but has been banned for use in cat foods. It is also a component of some antifreeze and can cause the destruction of red blood cells in cats. Sodium Nitrate and Nitrate can be toxic to pets if consumed in large amounts by causing a blood disorder called methaemoglobin. It is best to avoid this in your pet’s food and to be careful of feeding your pet human meats with these preservatives as well.
- Dyes Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 40, Blue 2, Caramel Color: These are unnecessary additions to dog food or treats that have been linked to negative reactions in humans, including behavioral issues and cancer, and are used to appeal to humans, not for nutritional value.
- Brewers Rice: These are the small milled fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the larger kernels of milled rice, thereby making it a rice by-product. They are used as a filler to inexpensively bulk up foods while lacking even the nutrients of a whole grain of rice.
- Distillers Dried Grains With Solubles (DDGS): DDGSs are left-overs from ethanol production. They are prone to a deadly mold which makes them a risky ingredient to put into pet food.
- Poultry Derivative: This can be any of the parts and pieces of the chicken, duck, goose or turkey including carcass, feet, head, and intestines.
- Rendered Fat: This ingredient can be derived from unidentified animals from a variety of sources, including euthanized and roadkill, and can be a source for microorganisms and toxins.
- Semi-Moist (not canned): This item is not an ingredient, rather a classification of a type of dog food. The benefit of semi-moist dog food is that it contains around 60-65% moisture, but that is where the pros for this type of food normally ends. For many semi-moist foods, the cons include high sugar, salt, and chemical preservative contents, artificial colors and chemical flavor enhancers.