Just as in much of processed human foods, synthetic preservatives are commonly present in most commercial dog foods. A number have been shown to be toxic in the laboratory. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are critical to your dogs health and happiness. So is a commitment to provide safe and nutritious food.
For starters, only purchase foods that carry the AAFCO logo. Membership in the American Association of Feed Control Officials is voluntary. AAFCO guarantees WYSIWYG - What You See Is What You Get. We're not saying that AAFCO guarantees quality - that's for you to do. It says that the package label is truthful in representing the contents of the food it contains.
Much as with human foods, we recommend avoiding synthetic preservatives as much as you can. There are natural preservatives that work so why put your pet at risk?
Food preservatives are classified as either natural or artificial. Natural preservatives are typically made from Vitamins C or E and are referred to as GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe). Synthetic preservatives are considered toxic, especially when consumed on a daily basis for extended periods of time.
Vitamin E is generally listed “tocopherol”
Vitamin C is generally listed as “ascorbate”
Rosemary is also sometimes used.
Ethoxyquin (Ethoxyquin is not permitted for use in Australian foods nor is it approved for use within in the European Union)
BHA (known carcinogen; banned in California)
BHT (Banned in Japan, Australia, Romania and Sweden)
TBHG (high doses shown to be carcinogenic)
Propyl Gallate (known estrogen antagonist)
Propylene Glycol (yup, antifreeze. Banned by FDA in cat food but not dog food)
Preserves improve shelf life, stabilizing fats and protecting the moisture content in commercial foods. These same preservatives are used in a range of other applications including pesticides, embalming, automotive antifreeze and for stabilizing explosives and varnishes. When consumed on a daily basis, they are known to cause liver, hormone and blood problems, tumors and even cancer. Are they safe in the small doses that are found in pet food? I can't say "yes" or "no" but I don't want to use my pet to experiment.
It is wise to consider long-term effects when choosing food for your dog. Most vets believe that these additives may do little harm when consumed occasionally, they can do great damage when used long-term on a regular basis.
Whole Dog Journal has long advised owners to pass over dog food that contains artificial preservatives, in favor of products made with natural preservatives, such as vitamin E, vitamin C, and rosemary extract. "Canned foods and frozen diets are generally made with fresh and frozen animal ingredients, which are not usually treated with any preservatives. Feeding your dog a well-planned home-prepared diet made of fresh ingredients is the only way to be absolutely certain of ingredient content and quality. If you are looking for shelf life though, it's better to look for preservatives, as rancid fats in your food can also make your dog very ill." We may also add that there are a number of dehydrated preservative-free foods as well as frozen and fresh pet foods as well.
Now that you know what you DON'T want to see in your dog food, our next blog will be What Do You Want to See in Your Dog Food?
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