When you think of what to feed your dog, the first thing to pop up in your mind is dog food—and for a good reason. Namesake aside, it’s a great food option because it contains essential nutrients that your dog needs to grow strong and active.

However, not all dog food ingredients are suitable for your dog. Some of them provide little to no nutritional value, while others only function as fillers or preservatives. And the dangerous part? Some pet food ingredients can put your dog’s life at risk.

As a responsible pet owner, it pays to inspect the ingredients of what you feed your dog closely. To help you with this, we have listed ten ingredients to avoid in dog food.

1. BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)

First on our list is butylated hydroxyanisole, also known as BHA. It is a chemical preservative that is added to fats and oils. The United States, Canada, and other European countries approve the use of BHA but only in small doses. 

However, even the tiniest amount can threaten your dog’s health once ingested. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) lists this chemical as a carcinogen for humans. It can be just as deadly in dogs. It can have adverse effects on your dog’s kidney and liver and can irritate their skin and eyes.

2. White Flour

This starchy ingredient is a simple carbohydrate used as a binding agent and filler in some dog foods. During the bleaching process, most of the nutrients from the wheat are stripped away.

Once consumed, this flour can drastically increase or decrease the blood sugar levels of dogs. Moreover, it only keeps them full for a short amount of time until they get hungry again. When this happens, your dog ends up consuming more food than usual, increasing their risk of getting obese and diabetes.

3. Meat Meal

Meat is generally a healthy food option for your dog. However, there are certain meat products that you need to steer clear of since their contents are questionable.

Such is the case for meat meals or unlabeled meat ingredients found in some dog foods. It often doesn’t specify the type of meat used, which makes its origins quite suspicious. Upon closer inspection, these meat meals usually contain low-quality, expired, or infected meat. It can also include fatty tissues or remains of dead animals from shelters. 

Meat meals simply serve as fillers with little to no protein, as they have almost no quality control. Therefore, it’s best to avoid them altogether. If you must resort to getting a meat meal for your dog, choose one that specifies the kinds of meat used.

4. Artificial Food Coloring

Colors may be fun to add to human food, but they do more harm than good in animal food. Artificial colors are often added to make dog food look visually appetizing—but not for dogs! Instead, these colors are meant to catch the eye of pet parents.

However, adding color to dog food is completely unnecessary for pets. After all, your dog could care less about the color of its meal. What’s more, the most common food dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, and Yellow 5 and 6) are linked to hyperacidity and extreme allergic reactions to food. Only get dog food that is naturally colored.

5. Corn Syrup

Does your dog like sweet treats? Better take a step back and think again. Corn syrup is often used as a cheap source of flavoring in pet treats. This concentrated sweetener has a thick, syrupy consistency once extracted and processed from corn.  It’s extremely addicting to dogs, so they keep coming back for more.

However, it isn’t a necessary part of your dog’s diet. Eating these in high amounts can cause an abrupt rise and fall in your dog’s blood sugar. Letting your dog consume corn syrup with their diet also puts them at risk of diabetes and obesity.

6. Rendered Fat

Rendered fat is a non-descript ingredient that enhances the flavor of some pet foods. However, it’s one of those dog food ingredients with poor quality since it comes from unidentifiable sources. Because of this, rendered fat can become a breeding ground for mold and harmful microorganisms like salmonella. It also contains high levels of toxins such as heavy metals, which are highly concentrated in their fat content.

7. Vegetable Oil

At first glance, vegetable oil seems like a pretty healthy ingredient. However, the nutrients from this type of oil depend on where they came from and how they were processed.

Vegetable oil is derived from corn and soybean oils. It contains omega-6 fatty acids, which are considered healthy for dogs. However, it comes in excessive amounts when added to processed pet foods, not to mention the other fatty ingredients in pet food.

Omega-6 is a known trigger of inflammation, especially when taken in excess. This can negatively affect your dog’s joints and worsen their arthritis, hip and joint pains, and other related conditions.

8. Farmed Salmon

Salmon, as we all know, is a great source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids to both humans and dogs. But here’s the catch: the wrong kind of salmon can be toxic to your dogs.

Farmed salmon, frequently listed as “salmon meal” or “salmon oil”, is harvested from artificial environments instead of in the wild. Unlike fresh salmon, they are not as nutritious. 

What’s more, they contain high amounts of harmful chemicals like mercury, pollutants, and other fat-soluble toxins. These substances, when ingested in huge quantities, can be cancerous to your dog.

9. Nitrates/Nitrites

Nitrates and nitrites are a group of chemicals used as preservatives to prolong the shelf life of food products. It is often used in prepared meats such as bacon, ham, hotdogs, sausages, and other deli meats.

However, if taken in high doses, it can adversely affect your dog’s health. Sodium nitrite, the most common ingredient in preserving cured meats, is linked to cancer and a blood disorder called methemoglobin in dogs.

10. Melamine

Melamine usually serves as a filler ingredient to reach the required protein content for pet food. But in reality, it’s a type of plastic that contains nitrogen. This dangerous substance can contaminate your dog’s food.

Ingesting this is toxic for your canine companion. Depending on their size and the amount of melamine added, its consumption can lead to kidney failure. Because of this, it caused one of the worst pet food recalls in 2007.

Choose the Best Dog Food Ingredients for Your Furry Friend

Dog food provides the necessary nourishment in fuss-free packaging, making it the ideal food option for your dog. However, it’s still best to remain vigilant about the contents of your dog’s food. Secure your pup’s health by scrutinizing the ingredients list and knowing what dog food ingredients you should avoid giving your pet.

For more tips and advice on your dog’s health, head over to the TPLOinfo blog.

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