What You Should Know About Additives in Commercial Dog Foods

If you are concerned about the additives and GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) found in human food, you should be equally concerned regarding the components of your dog’s food and treats?

We know that most dog foods contain either beef or chicken (known to bother some food sensitive dogs), or some other kind of protein considered non-allergenic. We also know that corn and wheat grains and glutens can exacerbate symptoms in a dog with allergies. But do you know about the chemicals and supplements in your dog’s food that can be potentially harmful? Reading the ingredients list on your dog’s food will tell you if the commercial food you are buying contains additives that might be making your pooch sick.

The three basic types of chemicals and supplements added to commercial dog foods can be classified based on the effect they have on foodstuffs. The main classes of additives include: a.) preservatives and antioxidants, b.) binders and emulsifiers, and c.) coloring and flavoring agents.

Preservatives and Antioxidants

Preservatives and antioxidants are added to commercial dog foods and treats to preserve their shelf life. They’re also used to prohibit the growth of bacteria and molds that can render the foods inedible and have negative effects on the health of your dog. Manufacturers employ both natural and artificial preservatives and antioxidants to this purpose.

Natural preservatives include Vitamin E, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), clove oil, rosemary extract, and other spices. Although these natural additives don’t guarantee as long a shelf life as their artificial counterparts, they are normally not considered harmful to canines.

On the other hand, foods containing artificial preservatives such as BHA (butylated hydroxysanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), propyl gallate, and ethoxyquin, last longer on store shelves, but have been known to cause chronic toxicity in dogs. BHA and BHT may contribute to some cancers, while ethoxyquin and propyl gallate are suspected of causing disorders of the thyroid, kidney, and liver, and certain cancers in dogs.

Binders and Emulsifiers

Binders and emulsifiers, both natural and artificial, are used to help the ingredients of commercial dog foods and treats hold together without separating, keeping the foods edible for longer periods of time. Corn and wheat gluten are the most commonly used binders, while glyceryl monostearate, a type of artificial fat, is the most common emulsifier. Phosphoric acid, a clear, colorless liquid found in fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, and detergents, is also used in lower-end dog foods as an emulsifier.

While none of these ingredients have been found to be harmful to dogs, they have almost no nutritional value. If you home-make your own dog food, you can provide the same properties to your food by adding whole-wheat flour, baking soda, corn meal, and eggs, and still have all the nutrients of those foods available to your pet.

Coloring and Flavoring Agents

Manufacturers commonly add large amounts of coloring and flavoring agents to commercial foods and treats to mask the poor quality of their ingredients. The artificial ingredients of Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 food dyes added to dog food, while not necessarily toxic, have caused allergic skin reactions in hypersensitive dogs, particularly those sensitive to aspirin products.

Flavoring agents can be either chemical, such as phosphoric acid, or natural, like Animal Digest, the most commonly used flavoring agent in store-bought canine food. Animal Digest is a cooked-down broth made from different parts of unspecified animals. There is no control over quality or contamination. Any kind of animal can be included: “4-D animals” (dead, diseased, disabled, or dying prior to slaughter), rats, goats, horses, pigs, animals euthanized at shelters, miscellaneous roadkill, supermarket and restaurant refuse, and so on. Who wants their dog eating that?

If you’re looking for an all natural brand to purchase, look for foods that are baked not extruded, contain fruit, probiotics, vegetables and flax.  Our top pick is DOGSFOOD Grain Free.  This food contains healthy stuff like flaxseed, salmon, loads of veggies, amino acids and probiotics! And the best thing is when you buy a bag of this food one is given to a dog in need!

One of the best flavoring additives you can put in your dog’s  meals is a spoonful of all-natural, peanut butter. Full of Omega-3 anti-oxidants and Vitamin E, peanut butter can protect your pet’s hair coat and prevent the dry, itchy skin that causes hot spots and hair loss. Other healthy snacks can include DOGSBARs, your pup’s very own all-natural protein bar made with organic peanut butter, oats, blackstrap molasses, and organic brown rice syrup. You can also try DOGSTREATS. 100% natural peanut butter dog treats made with fresh bananas, carrots, spinach, green peas, broccoli, strawberries, and more.

Knowing what goes in your dog’s food can help keep him healthy, happy, and with you for a long, long time.

DOG for DOG is an all natural dog food and treat company with a mission to help dogs in need. You buy one we give one! 52,000 pounds were donated in 2013

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