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Dog Food Ingredients to AVOID!

By Katherine Cebrowski on October 04, 2017
Dog Food Ingredients to AVOID!


Being members of our family, dogs deserve the best we can give them. Let’s start with their food, one of the main determinants for health and wellbeing.

As consumers we may be impressed with attractive packaging on ‘trusted’ brands. But without carefully reading and understanding ingredient labels, we may not know if that food may be putting our dog’s health at risk. Some ingredients can lead to digestive problems, obesity, illness, cancer or other irreversible health conditions. Here is a list of common pet food ingredients we recommend you avoid!

Artificial Preservatives are commonly used in pet food. These include:

  • ETHOXYQUIN is used to preserve fats. It is a possible carcinogen and has been linked to serious illness. According to Dr. Becker, ethoxyquin is used in many pet foods and almost all fishmeal in pet foods.
  • BHA /BHT Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) has been directly linked to cancer. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) is often responsible for kidney damage.
  • PROPYLENE GLYCOL reduces moisture and prevents bacterial growth. It may lead to the growth of cancerous lesions within a dog’s intestines.
  • TBHQ – Tertiary butylhydroquinone increases shelf life but is linked to serious illnesses.

Protein Ingredients range in quality and some should be completely avoided. Why? Because they come from questionable sources and do not provide REAL nutrition for dogs. These include:

  • BY–PRODUCTS are pieces of slaughtered animals not suitable for human consumption. By definition, these ingredients are not meat
  • BY-PRODUCT MEAL would most likely be meat from an animal that was rejected as human food because of disease or drugs.
  • BONE MEAL ingredients could contain any euthanised animals parts, expired grocery meat, or used leftover restaurant grease.
  • MEAT & MEAT MEAL can contain ingredients from euthanised or dead animals, animals with tumors, expired grocery meat, or used restaurant grease
  • ANIMAL FAT / RENDERED FAT represents low quality fats having come from unidentifiable sources like dead, diseased, dying, or disabled animals.
  • ANIMAL DIGEST is mixed, unidentified heavily processed meat broth that usually is added to dog food as a flavor enhancer and is sprayed on to cover up undesirable flavours.

Filler Ingredients add bulk to the food. With little or no nutritive value, they can be difficult to digest and may result in a range of health problems. These include:

  • CORN / MAIZE, WHEAT, SOY OR ANY OTHER GLUTENS are potentially genetically modified, and are common pet allergens. These ingredients are commonly added to pet foods as cheap fillers and to bind and form the kibble shape and texture.
  • BREWERS RICE includes the rice fragments left over after white rice has been processed.
  • PEA PROTEIN is a cheap protein source with an in complete amino acid profile in comparison to real meat tissue. Your pet will not be able to use all the protein.

Unnecessary Additives are ingredients added to improve the taste, colour and texture of pet food. They can potentially be damaging to your dog’s health. These include:

  • MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) is a cheap, non-nutritive, flavour enhancer. Pets may be allergic to it. MSG does not have to appear on pet food ingredient labels.
  • ARTIFICAL COLOURS / FOOD DYES are added to make the pet food more visually appealing to humans. Many dyes can be linked to hyperactivity, allergic reactions, organ damage and cancer.
  • CORN SYRUP is a cheap sweetener used in some pet foods and many pet treats. Dogs cannot process refined sugar or artificial sweeteners and they are addictive. It can lead to weight gain, obesity, hyperactivity and diabetes.
  • SODIUM SELENITE is toxic in large doses. While selenium is necessary and a required nutrient, there are other forms that are safer and healthier for our pets.
  • CARRAGEENAN is a binding ingredient. It has the potential to cause intestinal inflammation and may contribute to cancer growth.
  • SALT – While some salt is good, too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and possibly strokes. Large quantities are often added as a flavour enhancer
  • CELLULOSE is indigestible plant or wood fiber. If your dog is eating a balanced diet with whole foods – fruits, veggies or appropriate amounts of healthy grains - they should be getting all the fiber they need
  • MENADIONE SODIUM BISULFITE is a synthetic Vitamin K, which is linked to serious side effects
  • SHMP (sodium hexametaphosphate) is added to ‘dental care’ products, as it is believed to help reduce dental plaque. It has the potential to lead to a variety of health issues as shown in lab tested animals.

Test your Knowledge!

Below are the ingredients of three popular dog food brands available in the UAE. Try to find any of the ingredients mentioned above.

  1. Ingredients: Lamb, brewers rice, corn gluten meal, whole grain wheat, poultry by-product meal (natural source of glucosamine), oat meal, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols (form of Vitamin E), soy flakes, pearled barley, fish meal (natural source of glucosamine), soybean meal, dried egg product, dried beet pulp, animal digest, glycerin, wheat bran, salt, calcium phosphate, potassium chloride, calcium carbonate, zinc proteinate, Vitamin E supplement, manganese proteinate, ferrous sulfate, choline chloride, sulfur, L-ascorbyl-2-polyphosphate (source of Vitamin C), niacin, copper proteinate, Vitamin A supplement, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin B-12 supplement, pyridoxine hydrochloride, garlic oil, folic acid, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, biotin, menadione sodium bisulfite complex (source of Vitamin K activity), sodium selenite.
  2. Ingredients: Whole Grain Corn, Meat And Bone Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Animal Fat Preserved With Mixed-Tocopherols, Soybean Meal, Chicken By-Product Meal, Egg And Chicken Flavor, Whole Grain Wheat, Animal Digest, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, L-Lysine Monohydrochloride, Mono And Dicalcium Phosphate, Choline Chloride, Zinc Sulfate, Yellow 6, Vitamin E Supplement, Ferrous Sulfate, Yellow 5, Red 40, Manganese Sulfate, Niacin, Blue 2, Vitamin A Supplement, Copper Sulfate, Calcium Pantothenate, Garlic Oil, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Vitamin B-12 Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin D-3 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Calcium Iodate, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source Of Vitamin K Activity), Folic Acid, Biotin, Sodium Selenite
  3. Ingredients: Maize, dehydrated poultry meat, maize flour, animal fats, maize gluten, hydrolysed animal proteins, beet pulp, minerals, fish oil, soya oil, yeast, egg powder, hydrolysed crustaceans (rich in glucosamine), taurine, hydrolysed cartilage (source of chondroitin).

Try doing the same with your current pet food!

Choose Natural, Whole Food Ingredients

Feeling overwhelmed yet? We sympathise. If you keep it simple and apply some common sense, it’s not that difficult. The best foods for your dog do not contain ingredients mentioned above. Find a brand of dog food that is minimally processed and made with whole food and natural ingredients as well as real meat.

Furchild is the new, fresh pet food company in the UAE which offers a variety of complete and balanced, premium pet meals for dogs and cats. Furchild does not contain any cheap or questionable ingredients. All Furchild ingredients are human-grade, whole fresh foods that are species appropriate and optimal for your dog and cat’s health. The labels are very transparent and mention the specifics of each high-quality ingredient. Here's our ingredients used in our recipe for dogs, Chicken with Organic Vegetables. Notice the difference?

  • Cage-Free Meat (85%):
    • Chicken Necks (including bone), Chicken Thigh Meat, Chicken Backs, Chicken Livers, Chicken Hearts and Chicken Gizzards.
  • Organic Vegetables (14%):
    • Organic Green Zucchini, Organic Yellow Zucchini, Organic Romaine Lettuce, Organic Sweet Potatoes, Organic Carrots, Organic Celery and Organic Parsley. (Vegetables may vary based on seasonality)
  • Organic Oils:
    • Organic Flaxseed Oil and Organic Cod Liver Oil (Derived from sea-harvested wild Alaska Cod)
  • Special Nutrient Mix (1%):
    • Sea Salt, Potassium Chloride, Inulin (extract of Chicory root), Zinc Proteinate, Iron Proteinate, Biocholine, Vitamin E, Copper Proteinate, Manganese Proteinate and Calcium Iodine

If your pet has been eating a processed diet for a long time, we recommned swapping over to Furchild's fresh pet nutrition and possibly adding Complete Probitic Powder and Healthy Digestive Enzymes to their meals.

To learn more about the questionalbe quality and sourcing of processed pet foods, read our page Comparing Types of Pet Food.


Written by...

Katherine Cebrowski
Katherine Cebrowski
Co-Founder and Owner - An accomplished event promoter, airline professional, vegetarian, yoga instructor and English Bulldog owner she works each day to bring out the best in people and their pets.
Katherine Cebrowski

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