12 Gut-Wrenching Diets That Are Killing Your Dog

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Every pet food manufacturer would have us believe that their chow is the best. But if you want to feed your dog something that keeps THEM happy, healthy and in a great condition you need to look directly at the ingredients.

Common ingredients in commercial dog meals can be misleading, so here are some of them you should avoid and why.

1. Chicken Meal

When the word meal is used as an ingredient (and even sometimes when it’s not) the meat source is questionable. A meal could be 70% chicken but if it doesn’t clarify which part of the chicken is used, then we need to ask why.

Many pet foods are made from the waste produce of human foods, so 70% chicken could easily be 10% meat and 60% crushed beak, bone and feet.

Further, chicken meat appearing at the top of the ingredient list doesn’t necessarily mean that there is more meat than other ingredients in the finished formula.  The raw meat is weighed before it is dehydrated and that’s how it stays on top when it should in fact be much lower on the ingredient list.  If the second and third ingredients are not also meat or meat meal, don’t be fooled by the label – it’s not a dog food primarily based on meat.

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2. Beef Meal

Once again there is no guarantee, unless purposely stated, that the beef meal used is anything but ground teeth, hooves, tails and bones of a cow. This really is the case for every animal declared on a dog food pack.

Basically, foods that are good for your dog are made with whole ingredients.  If a food label says that it contains beef then it must contain clean, non-rendered flesh from bovines. Consequently, beef meal is the rendered product from those meats and should contain only that actual meat.

When it comes to by-products or by-product meals you should really start to worry.  Those foods can contain internal organs and god knows what else and you shouldn’t buy them for your dog, ever. You should probably learn how to read dog food labels in order to avoid unhealthy meals that can seriously harm your pooch.

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3. Coloring

Coloring is not added to pet foods for the sake of your dog; artificial colors are added to make the food look nice to us. THESE additives can cause health and behavioral problems such as allergies, itchy skin, digestion problems and even hyperactivity.

Blue 2, Red 40, and Yellow 5 and 6 are typical artificial colors that are added to dog foods.  If you see any of them on the list of ingredients, you might want to consider buying another type of dog food for your pet.  Although these meals look prettier and more appealing (to humans), they are really not good for your dog.

To sum it up, your dog doesn’t really care how their food looks like.  The only thing that matters to pooches is that their meals taste good.

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4. Fillers

Fillers are a cheap way to bulk up a dry kibble. They can be taken from anything and some common ones that are regularly used are wheat hulls, corn centers and even weeds or straw.

Fillers have no nutritional value and only serve to make the dog feel full and make production cheaper.  Apart from being used to replace high quality ingredients, fillers can cause weight and health problems in dogs.

However, many experts say that fillers are necessary ingredients in dog food, but the trick is to know which ones are good and which ones are bad.  Bad fillers can easily lead to obesity and high blood sugar, so you definitely want to avoid them. Fillers should always be on the bottom of the ingredient list so that you know that your pooch isn’t getting a harmful amount of them.

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5. 4D Animals

4D animals are regularly added to pet foods. 4D stands for animals that WERE dead, disabled, diseased or dying prior to slaughter and may be under the general description of the meat.

It can be any animal from road kills to sick farm animals, and even unwanted and euthanized domestic pets from public shelters. Most shockingly, it can even include dogs. If this wasn’t horrible enough, the process that turns these 4D animals (and animal parts) into food is also quite sickening.

Although the most prominent American dog food manufacturers claim they never put rendered animals into their pet food, it is perfectly legal to do so, according to Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser.

‘’A Canadian company, Sanimal Inc., was putting 40,000 pounds of dead dogs and dead cats into its dog and cat food every week, until discontinuing the practice in June 2001. “This food is healthy and good,” said the company’s vice president of procurement, responding to critics, ”but some people don’t like to see meat meal that contains any pets.’’

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6. Gluten and High Grain Products

Wheat has fairly recently been recognized as a high allergen in dog foods. It can cause itchy skin, stomach problems, a poor general condition and hair loss. Many pet food manufacturers have started to introduce grain free foods for this reason.

Often called premium food and sold at a higher price, most pet stores will now be able to provide at least one wheat and gluten free batch of pup chow. Keep an eye out for GLUTEN AND HIGH GRAIN PRODUCTS so your four-legged furry friend can enjoy a long and healthy life with you.

You should also know that gluten free grains include rice, amaranth, buckwheat (not related to wheat), millet, and quinoa. Other gluten-free starches are garbanzo, lentils, nuts (but macadamia nuts are harmful to dogs), maize / corn, fava beans and cassava.

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7.  Preservatives

Butylated-hydroxyanisole (BHA) or butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) and Ethoxyquin are three very dangerous chemical preservatives that can seriously harm your dog.

BHA and BHT are added to oils as preservatives and according to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, BHA is on the list of Known Carcinogens and Reproductive Toxicants. BHT is also carcinogen to both humans and dogs. In the United States, Ethoxyquin is illegal to use in human foods but can be found in dog foods. This chemical is harmful if swallowed or if it gets in touch with skin.

It can cause kidney and liver damage, cancers (liver, spleen, stomach, and skin), immune deficiency syndrome, blindness, and leukemia. We don’t need to stress the importance of avoiding these preservatives in dog foods. Never, ever feed your dog foods that contains BHA, BHT or Ethoxyquin!

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8. Propylene glycol (PG)

Propylene Glycol is an additive that preserves moisture in some commercial dog foods.  Since it absorbs water, it is used to keep semi-moist dog foods semi-moist. Additionally, it is used as a solvent, an emulsifier, cooling agent, and stabilizer.

Although it is generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, PG is also used as a low toxicity antifreeze. The Material Safety Data Sheet from the Department of Commerce provides the following warning regarding ingestion of propylene glycol: “May cause gastrointestinal irritation with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Low hazard for usual industrial handling. May cause emoglobinuric nephrosis. May cause changes in surface EEG.”

The FDA officially declared propylene glycol unsafe for cats in 1996.  Even though it is considered safe in dog food, our advice is to avoid this chemical by all cost.

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9. Animal Fat

Most commercial dog foods contain added fat, but how do you know which one is good for your dog?  Fish oil, beef fat, chicken fat and flax seed oil are fine sources of dog food fat and contain essential nutrients.  However, these healthier fat sources can be expensive for some dog food manufacturers and this is where the problems begin.

Basically, those companies use animal fat which is a by-product of rendering (the same process used in the production of meat meals).  The pet food industry states that ‘animal fat is obtained from the tissues of mammals and/or poultry in the commercial process of rendering…’

To sum it up, animal fat comes from 4D animals, dead zoo animals, road kills, slaughterhouse waste and even euthanized dogs and cats. Animal fat is not a quality ingredient in dog food, to say the least.

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10. Salt

Everyone knows that sodium is an essential nutrient. Pet food regulations have an established minimum of salt in dog food, but there is no upper limit of salt content in pet foods.  That being said, excessive amounts of salt in dog foods are a concern.  The National Research Council says that giving your dog too much salt can cause restlessness, increased heart rate, water intake, and hemoglobin concentration and dry and tacky mucous membranes.

According to the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, the daily recommended allowance of sodium for a healthy dog weighing 33 pounds and eating 1,000 calories per day is 100 mg.

Sodium ion poisoning happens when a dog eats too much salt.  The most common signs of this poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea and seizures. In a nutshell, your dog needs salt, but make sure that their dog food doesn’t contain too much salt (or too little, as a matter of fact).

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11. “Organic”, “Natural”, “Holistic Ingredients”

According to Susan Nelson, DVM and assistant professor of clinical services at Kansas State University, natural pet foods ‘’are based more on market demand from owners, not because they are necessarily better for the pet.’’

Every pet food label should have a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials which ensures that the formula meets the minimal nutritional requirements. As you may guess, organic, natural and holistic pet foods have not been defined by the AAFCO.  Essentially, food manufacturers can interpret those terms the way the want to.

So, when pet owners demand organic food for their dogs, companies will produce it.  But which ingredients will they use? And although you might think that you are feeding your dog healthy food, the truth is that dog food in a can or bag cannot be organic, natural or holistic. Fundamentally, it’s processed food with a new label.

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12. Expired Dog Food

All pet food should be marked with an expiration or “best by” date. Normally, most dry foods have a shelf life of one year, while canned foods can last up to two years from the date of manufacture.

The food is only guaranteed to have nutritional quality until the expiration date and food packaging is designed to prevent contamination for a certain period of time. Also, preservatives can degrade over time which means they lose their ability to prevent spoilage. If you accidentally buy expired dog food, take it back to the store – the same goes for foods that don’t have expiration or ‘best by’ dates.

The biggest problem is that most dog foods only have a ‘best by’ date which allows stores to legally sell it, even if it’s beyond that date (and possibly spoiled).  Many people buy food for their pets without looking at this date because it’s illegal to sell expired food.  However, now you know what can happen.  Therefore, always check the date since it is definitely better to be safe than sorry.

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