Dangerous Ingredients in Dog Food

Dangerous Ingredients in Dog Food

The food that we feed our pets is directly related to their overall health and longevity. Unfortunately, not all foods are created equal.
Diet & nutrition

Listed here are the most dangerous ingredients in dog food that you should avoid feeding your pet.  

Bone and Meat Meal

Unnamed bone and meat meal should not be confused with named meat meals, such as chicken meal or beef meal. While the process to make both meals is the same (rendering produces a highly concentrated protein powder), the difference lies in the raw materials. Chicken meal, by AAFCO standards, only contains chicken from healthy sources. “Meat meal,” “animal meal,” “chicken by-product meal,” and “meat and bone meal” do not have the same regulations. For instance, these ingredients can be made of dead and diseased farm or zoo animals, euthanized animals from animal shelters, slaughterhouse waste, and spoiled meats from grocery stores.

Rendered Fat

Dogs require fat in their diets; however, not all sources of fat are created equally. Just as pet owners should avoid unnamed meal in their pet’s food, unnamed rendered fat should also be avoided. The sources of unnamed rendered fat (versus named fats, such as chicken fat) are the same as unnamed bone and meat meals, making this ingredient especially dangerous. Indeed, pentobarbital (a drug used during the euthanasia process) can show up in rendered fat when the unnamed source is euthanized animals.

Dye and Food Coloring

Food colorings and dyes often appear in dry dog foods even though canines are color blind and do not have a preference for the appearance of their food. Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and caramel coloring have all been known to cause reactions in humans and/or pets. For instance, caramel color (4-methylimidazole) is a known animal carcinogen, so it is important to avoid this ingredient entirely.

BHA, BHT, and Ethoxyquin

Dry dog foods require preservatives to have a long shelf life. However, certain preservatives are more dangerous than others. BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), and Ethoxyquin are chemicals used as preservatives in dog food that have negative health consequences. BHA is a known carcinogen and reproductive toxin, while BHT is a carcinogen that also causes liver and kidney failure. Ethoxyquin has been banned from human-grade food, but not from pet food despite the dangers. While Ethoxyquin may not be directly labeled on your dog’s food, it may be present if “fish meal” is a listed ingredient. Instead, look for foods that use Vitamins E or C as preservatives.

Always read the dog food labels before purchasing a new bag to avoid the harmful ingredients inside. Good quality food is very important for your dog to live a long and healthy life. Do your best to make healthy choices for your pet! Moreover, make sure you are serving the correct portions. Portion sizes should be determined based on your dog’s body condition and activity level and a routine should be followed. The Actijoy smart dog food & water bowl is one great option. With this tool, pet owners can track food and water intake, as well as when meals are consumed each day.

Learn more about Natural dog food for your dog! Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive our next series directly in your inbox. 


Please note: all dogs should be treated as individuals. The Actijoy blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only. In the case of emergency, always seek qualified health care from a local veterinarian or emergency facility. Actijoy blogs are not designed to treat, diagnose, or prescribe medication for your pet.

Looking for another topic, help us find it