What dog treat additives are poisons and which ones are OK

September 5, 2016 at 6:00 am
dog treat

In an ideal world, dog food, like dog treats, would not come with any preservatives.  If you feed your dog a raw meat diet, you will restrict the additives and preservatives purposely put into the food, but you will not necessarily know about the herbicides and pesticides and growth hormones that may still remain in an animal.

You would think in 2016 that big dog food companies would only put in things that were good for dogs, but then again, many harmful things are still included in human food, so it is likely that the bans in dog food and dog treats will take a lot longer.

Dog food advisor only list the really bad known additives which they believe could have safer alternatives. There is a whole class of additives that a lot of people avoid that you might not even know about.

The really bad preservatives and additives in dog food:

  1. Ethoxyquin – doubles as a pesticide and is suspected by the DDA (America) of causing liver and blood issues. It is banned in Australian dog food, but the vast majority of dog food consumed in Australia is imported.
  2. Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are both suspected of causing cancer (WHO &  California authorities). BHT is used in jet fuel and BHA is a suspected carcinogen.
  3. Propylene glycol - used in antifreeze and for keeping kibble moist. It has mostly been removed from cat food, but not all dog food.
  4. Propyl Gallate – used as a dog food preservative but also found to ‘stabilize’ cosmetics and in food packaging. It is believed to be cause of dog liver diseases and cancer.
  5. TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone) – used to stabilize explosives, make varnishes, lacquers and resins. It is considered to be involved in creating stomach tumours and can cause damage to DNA.

Reason for preservatives in dog food

Preservatives stop the fats from going rancid and extend pellet shelf life.  Many people leave a large packet of dog food exposed to air and sunlight for extended periods of time so it needs it.  Animal fat is an important part of a dog’s diet (mostly for energy) but Omega 3 and 6 serve many functions within a dogs body and also need to stop being spoiled.

What they often use instead of artificial preservatives

Natural preservatives are often made of vitamins C or E and show up as “tocopherol” or “ascorbate”.  They might also be listed in ingredients as “chicken fat preserved with alpha-tocopherol”.

Potassium sorbate (code E202) is regularly used in human and dog food. It is a mould growth inhibitor. Potassium sorbate is found naturally in berries but is made synthetically on a large commercial scale. In low doses it is found to be completely safe.

The lesser known dog treat additives

  • Colours (code 100 range)
  • Preservatives (200 range) prevent spoilage.
  • Antioxidants (300 range) reduce oxidative spoilage
  • Artificial sweeteners (900 range, and sorbitol, 420)
  • Flavour enhancers (600 range)
  • Emulsifiers (400 range) prevent oil and water mixtures separating.
  • Stabilisers (400 range) make uniform particle dispersal.
  • Thickeners (eg vegetable gums, 400 range, modified starches 1000 range) increase food viscosity.

Dog treats and dog food: What NO additives, colours or flavours means

You are almost always going to have additives in any dry or canned dog food because of long transport times with varying environmental conditions.

You probably eat a whole host of additives and preservatives yourself. Do you still religiously inspect every label on food and treats you and your pooch eat?

While most dogs are not allergic to meat or grain, they can have an intolerance. An exclusion diet is the only known method to accurately gauge what they can eat. More dogs have allergies to environmental factors than food allergies.

What is my recommendation for dog treats?

If you suspect that a given additive is causing a skin condition or it makes sense to avoid that in all their foods. The hardest thing is to isolate exactly what is causing the issue.

If you feed your dog manufactured dog food, you might be surprised with how many preservatives and additives are in it. If there are a lot of them and you continue to feed your dog that dog food, the smaller amount of dog treats they consume should not be a major issue. Unless they are extremely loaded with ‘bad’ artificial additives.

Some additives are less desired than others. There should be no reason to use artificial sweeteners or flavour enhancers in meat based dog treats. The meat is the flavour. If a dog treat is combined with any form of grain, it is likely to have an emulsifier/stabiliser or thickener to bond it together. That can be hard to completely avoid.

Many dog treats have artificial colours in them to stop them from being a bland grain-coloured treat. This is mostly to re-assure the human that they are buying quality. While they should not be necessary, they seem to do little harm to the majority of dogs. Colours which are FDA (and Australian law) approved are still used extensively in human food.

If you are concerned about additives and can buy 100% meat-based dog treats, go for it.

BIO:  Bruce Dwyer researches and sources healthy meat based dog treats in Australia for his own dog and others. From an original career in Electronic engineering his analysis and research skills had him well sort after in Corporate Australia until he chose to concentrate on the dog service industry. His company ‘Healthy Dog Treats’ has been in business since 2011 and was based on finding the best dog food natural supplement nutrition for his own dog (Archie the 8 year old spoodle). Archie not only approves of the selections but is featured on many videos on site trialling these ‘treats’.  Understanding that people also enjoy dog treat news and free dog treat coupons he has a weekly email newsletter that can be subscribed on his site.   Bruce is also a professional dog walker and besides his regular blog on his main website his daily dog walk adventure images and videos and dog treat news can be found on these places:

Website - dogwalkersmelbourne.com.au 
Facebook - HealthyDogTreatsShop
Twitter - DogTreatMan
Google + - HealthydogtreatsAu1