Since animal fats are a crucial part of every dog food, they’re also subject to going bad… becoming rancid shortly after manufacture.
To extend the shelf life of any dog food, manufacturers nearly always need to add a preservative to each product.
But here’s the problem…
Preservatives can be either natural… or artificial.
Natural preservatives are usually made from anti-oxidants… like vitamins C or E. You’ll see them printed on a dog food’s ingredients list using some form of the word “tocopherol” or “ascorbate”.
Look for something like…
“…chicken fat preserved with alpha-tocopherol”
In general, natural preservatives are considered fairly safe.
Banned from Cat Food… OK for Dogs?
But artificial preservatives are another story. Used long term, they add a notable risk of toxicity to any dog food.
For example, take the moisture preservative, propylene glycol. You may recognize propylene glycol by its more infamous use in certain types of non-automotive anti-freeze.
Now, to be fair, this chemical is considered far less toxic than its more dangerous cousin, ethylene glycol.
However, due to its proven risk of blood toxicity, propylene glycol has been banned by the FDA for use in cat food.
Yet it’s still used as an artificial preservative in dog food.
Dog Food Preservative… or Dangerous Pesticide?
Now, here’s another artificial preservative you should be on lookout for… the chemical additive ethoxyquin.
Ethoxyquin is not only used as a dog food preservative but it’s also used as a pesticide… and a hardening agent in the manufacture of synthetic rubber.
Ethoxyquin has been under investigation by the FDA as a possible cause for certain types of canine liver and kidney cancer.
Yet to this day, it’s still commonly found in many popular brands of dog food.
Here are two more chemical bad guys to watch out for…
The World Health Organization openly names both BHT and BHA as suspicious cancer-causing compounds. Plus the State of California now identifies BHA as a probable “carcinogen”, too.
With their troubling reputations for causing such serious disease you’d think these two nasty preservatives would be intentionally shunned by the pet food industry.
But, sadly enough, both BHA and BHT can still be regularly found in a number of commercial dog foods.
The Bottom Line
Dogs are a captive audience. They have no choice but to eat what we put in front of them. The same food…
Day after day. Week after week. Year after year.
It’s that cumulative exposure that worries me. The additive effect of using any artificial preservative relentlessly… especially when it’s suspected of causing cancer.
My best advice…
Avoid dog foods made with artificial preservatives.
Here’s a list of some of the more common chemical additives…
Who knows? Avoiding these dangerous dog food preservatives may just add years of good health to your pet’s life.
Notes and Updates
02/09/2009 Original article
08/15/2010 Article updated