Toxins in Dog Food

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Many brands of dog food are cleverly marketed and presented, generally with a picture of a happy, healthy dog on the label-offering the consumer the utmost trust in the product.

However, closer inspection of the label could reveal the toxins in dog food!

We’ll also show you some examples of labels that you want to avoid! 

Dogs are one of the most popular pets, and as such, there is a growing market for pet food. However, with so many companies producing these products, it can be difficult to find the best one.

One way to ensure that you’re feeding your dog good quality food is by understanding the ingredients listed on the label so you make the right choices for your four-legged friend!

toxins in dog food

Ingredients to avoid in dog food

Meat meal / bone meal

Meat should make up the majority of your dog’s diet since he or she is a Carnivore. If you see terms like “meat,” “meal,” or “meat and bone meal,” though, you know that your pet is eating the worst quality meat in processed food.

Meat meal is a by-product of the meat rendering process, in which animal flesh is cooked for an extended period to eliminate germs. This method also loses most nutrients.

The phrase “meat meal” implies nothing about the sort of meat used and, as a result, is too vague to trust! Instead of high-quality meat, these meats could be obtained from unethical or low-quality animal flesh, which suggests you’re looking at lesser dog food.

On pet food labels, look for real meats that you recognize and trust.

High-quality animal proteins are excellent sources of amino acids, however, they should always be specified animal sources(chicken livers, chicken hearts, etc.)

If a protein meal is listed, it should always name a specific animal, like Beef, Chicken, Venison, Trout, etc, it should not simply say “protein meal” or “animal meal”.

Animal by-products (or derivatives)

This is ‘food’ that is ‘unfit for human consumption.’ It covers everything that people certainly would not touch. It’s everything that remains of an animal carcass after the flesh and bones have been removed. This is nothing more than waste from a slaughterhouse. 

Feet, feathers, beaks, hair, tumor pieces, hide, and other items may all go into this category. These components are tough for your dog to digest and frequently provide little nutritional value.

If a product’s label contains the term “meat by-products,” there’s probably a good reason why they won’t say what sort of meat it is. It’s always better to see named meat, such as “chicken by-products,” rather than nothing at all.

Never buy any dog food that lists animal by-products sourced from materials a manufacturer refuses to clarify.

Preservatives to avoid in pet food


BHA and BHT are chemical preservatives that are used in pet foods to enhance shelf life. They have also been shown to be carcinogens, which can cause a slew of negative health consequences, including skin and coat problems, irregular bowel movements, kidney issues, depression, organ damage, and more.

Feeding your dog foods containing these preservatives every day could result in dangerous levels accumulating within the body over time!


Another chemical preservative, ethoxyquin, is unlawful in human food in the United States but is frequently used in dog foods.

This compound was initially designed for herbicides. Soon, veterinarians observed that ethoxyquin was linked to kidney and liver damage, cancer (liver, spleen, stomach, skin), immune deficiency syndrome, blindness, and leukemia

Propyl Gallate

Although the FDA claims that propyl gallate is safe, it has been linked to a specific group of hormone-like chemicals known as xenoestrogens, which have the potential to disrupt reproductive health.

Look for natural preservatives such as vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), or rosemary instead. While these natural preservatives do not keep as long, they are a much safer choice for your dog.

Propylene glycol

Propylene glycol is derived from ethylene glycol (antifreeze!). While not as harmful as its relative, it has been prohibited in many countries or at the very least tolerated at significantly lower concentrations.

It is used as a humectant, or to keep moisture in semi-moist foods and stop bacterial development. This ingredient inhibits bacterial growth, therefore reducing the “good” growth that is required. It also reduces moisture, which helps with digestion.

As a result, some dogs may develop cancerous tumors inside their intestines or blockages.

Propylene glycol has been linked to Heinz body anemia in cats, which is a serious disease. Propylene glycol is not permitted in cat food due to its toxicity, you should say no to propylene glycol, especially if you have kitties at home!

Artifical colours

If your dog’s food is colorful, it’s almost certainly got additives that might be harmful if eaten in large amounts. Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 are all linked to hypersensitivity (allergic-type) reactions, behavioral issues, and cancer when used excessively.

As a result, avoid artificial colors and any other ingredients that you can’t easily pronounce!  Stick to natural ingredients instead.

Corn & corn syrup

Corn is a low-cost filler that is frequently used in dog foods.

Corn is also an allergy for many dogs. To make the food more sweet, corn syrup, which is made from corn, may be included.

Corn and corn syrup have been shown to be harmful to dogs’ health, as they include excessive amounts of carbohydrates that can lead to diabetes, hyperactivity, and even altered mental behavior.

Sweetening meals may also accelerate the development of dental disease. Instead of carbs, your dog should eat food that is primarily protein – not carbohydrates.

Rendered fats

Rendered fat, often called animal fat, is a low-quality ingredient in dog foods.

While fats derived from animals can be beneficial to your pet, “animal fat” or “poultry fat” comes from unknown creatures, which in the pet food industry generally means 4D – dead, diseased, dying, or disabled – animals. This is usually the by-product of rendering plants.

The final negative aspect of this low-quality fat is the toxin load. Many poisons are stored in animal fats. Low-quality fats have a greater fat-soluble poison content than high-quality descriptive fats, such as “chicken fat.”

Make sure all of the fats and oils in your pet’s meal are sourced from named, recognized sources.

Avoid non-specific phrases like “poultry fat,” “animal fat,” “vegetable oil,” and “fish oil,” instead, look for ingredients like salmon oil, chicken fat, beef fat, pork fat, and coconut oil.

Vegetable oil

vegetable oil is primarily composed of cheap corn and soybean oils.

Vegetable oil, like other non-specific ingredients, frequently includes significant amounts of omega 6 fatty acids.

While these fatty acids are vital, pets fed a manufactured commercial diet often consume substantially more EFAs (essential fatty acids) than is desirable.

Because some omega 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory, and because most commercial foods have a lot of omega 6’s, these extra fats can promote arthritis, hip, and joint difficulties, as well as numerous other medical issues.

Once again, make sure the oils come from a named source such as salmon oil, coconut oil, etc, and not generic Fish oil and vegetable oil.

Whether you go dry or wet food, one of the easiest ways for you to determine good dog food is by reading the label and looking out for the AAFCO Statement.

Nutritional guidelines have been developed by The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). AAFCO guidelines are the general basis for the nutritional content of commercial pet foods.

Make sure that your dog’s food meets the AAFCO standards. Food can either be formulated based on what should meet these standards or actually tested and proven to meet the standards by feeding it to closely monitored animals. (The best option…see label).

 The AAFCO statement also tells you whether the diet meets the standards for growth, maintenance, pregnancy/nursing, or “all life stages”.

The Bottom Line when choosing your next dog food

Dogs are carnivores by nature, and they require meat (protein) to operate properly.

While carbohydrates are acceptable in moderation, they should not make up the bulk of your dog’s diet. Otherwise, your dog may not be receiving the appropriate quantity of nutrients and will develop health issues over time.

VIDEO: The quality of pet food ingredients

Ideally, you want to see a NAMED meat/protein 1st on the label and preferably 2nd and 3rd on the label too! If it’s meat 1st and 2nd 3rd and 4th are grains (barley, oats, grain) then you are primarily feeding your dog a grain-based food’

Look for nutrient-dense veggies and fruits (carrots, peas, kelp, blueberries, or pumpkin) as well as natural colors and preservatives (rosemary, vitamin C [ascorbic acid], vitamin E [mixed tocopherols]). While these natural preservatives do not have as long shelf life as chemical ones, they are far safer and better for your dog.

To Sum Up, Look For

1. Named protein source (Beef, Chicken, Salmon, etc)

2. Nutrient-Rich Vegetables and Fruit (carrots, peas, kelp, blueberries or pumpkin etc

3.Natural flavours and preservatives (Vit C, vitamin E (mixed tocopherols), or rosemary.

4.Named Fat and Oil Source (salmon oil, coconut oil, etc)

To demonstrate, below I photographed a few different dog food labels at my local pet store.

The good

As you can see from the COMPOSITION LABEL the first ingredient has a NAMED PROTEIN SOURCES(in fact, more than one named protein source, which is excellent!). Then NAMED vegetables and NATURAL preservatives!  An Excellent choice!

The bad

The first ingredient here, by contrast is ‘ANIMAL DERIVATIVES’ followed by ‘UNNAMED’ CEREALS & VEGETABLES and ‘UNNAMED OILS & FATS’. Not a good choice!

The ugly

Take a deep breath at this one! ‘ANIMAL BY-PRODUCTS’ ‘PROPYLENE GLYCOL’ YELLOW 5, RED 40, BLUE 2 and YELLOW 6′!!! A potentially toxic meal for your dog!

Toxins in Dog Food - What to do next!

Did you know that a dog’s gut health has a significant influence on its overall health?

A recent scientific study reports that 70% to 80% of all illness begins in the gastrointestinal tract, and the majority of dogs are enzyme deficient as a result of being fed almost entirely on processed food!

Discover why this supplement is essential for your dog’s immune system and overall health-Full Bucket’s Probiotic supplements



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