We take great care in choosing what we feed our beloved pets. Sometimes, we even spend more money on their food than our own! We read labels, stick to trusted brands, and avoid falling for misleading advertisements. We know to check the first few ingredients to ensure they are high-quality, like chicken, turkey, beef, or sweet potatoes, and not fillers like meal or byproducts. But do we know which ingredients we should be avoiding? There have been recent lawsuits involving trusted brands, revealing tainted food and deceptive ingredient lists. These are the harmful ingredients that could harm our pets, and it’s crucial that we are aware of them.
When it comes to our pets’ food, we want to steer clear of anything artificial or chemically compounded. Unfortunately, despite being deemed safe by the FDA, some of the worst toxins can be found in pet food. While trace amounts may not seem significant, these chemicals can accumulate in our pets’ bodies over time, causing serious organ damage or worse.
Ethoxyquin, initially developed as a pesticide and used in rubber production, is also found in pet food as a “preservative.” It has been linked to kidney and liver damage, leukemia, cancer, blindness, immune deficiency syndrome, hair loss, and chronic diarrhea. Shockingly, it’s legal to use in the United States, even though it’s not permitted in Australia or the European Union.
2. BHA and BHT
Both butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are preservatives commonly added to pet food. These carcinogens have been proven to cause tumors in lab animals. Although the FDA considers them “safe” in small amounts, they fail to consider the effects of long-term ingestion.
3. Propylene Glycol
Propylene Glycol, a sweet-tasting chemical used in the production of polymers, antifreeze, and e-cigarette liquid, is also used in pet food to preserve moisture and texture. The FDA prohibits its use in cat food due to its severe effects on red blood cells. Studies indicate it can be harmful to the liver, kidneys, and brain in pets, so keep an eye out for it in dog foods.
4. Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate (TSPP)
TSPP, an emulsifier commonly used in cat food to enhance palatability, is also found in various toothpaste brands as a tartar control ingredient. Additionally, it’s present in household cleaning products used for rust removal. While it may not be severely toxic to cause death, it can lead to moderate diarrhea and nausea. If your pet experiences these symptoms after meals, it’s worth checking for this ingredient.
5. Dicalcium Phosphate (DCP)
DCP, primarily used as a calcium supplement and tartar control agent, is another additive used to improve the texture of cat and dog food. It cannot absorb water and is virtually insoluble. Research has found it to contribute to the development of kidney stones and the calcification of soft tissue.
What Can You Do?
Some of these additives can be found in products for human consumption. However, we don’t typically consume them as a major part of our diet on a daily basis. When these small amounts of chemicals are ingested daily, over months and years, they can accumulate and have a significant impact on our pets. The ratio of harmful chemicals to body weight is concerning, particularly for animals weighing 10-50 pounds.
Finding the perfect food for your pet might not be easy, but it’s worth the effort. While we wait for that magical app that tells us everything about a pet food brand, including ingredients and manufacturing details, we can continue reading labels and aim to avoid foods with these harmful chemicals. Consider skipping commercial brands altogether and opt for more natural options. If you have the time and resources, making your own cat or dog food can ensure your pet receives the best possible nutrition, made with love.
This article was written with Katten TrimSalon in mind. For more information on pet nutrition and advice, visit Katten TrimSalon.