Stay Away From These Pet Food Ingredients
When choosing food for your pet, it’s very important to take ingredients into consideration. Unfortunately, pet food nutrition labels are often confusing and overwhelming, especially when ingredients are unrecognizable. Here’s a helpful guide to reading pet food ingredient labels and why some ingredients may be dangerous for your pet:
Feed-Grade vs. Human-Grade:
You want to avoid giving your pet feed-grade foods if possible. Feed-grade is a term used to describe foods that contain meat and bone meal by-products, which have the risk of coming from dead or diseased animals. Feed-grade ingredients also often contain rendered animal fats from tissues and organs. Because animals in the wild tend to eat most parts of their prey, rendered parts may be considered biologically appropriate ingredients, but once they are cooked at high temperatures, they lose most of their nutritional value. Also, dry pet foods that contain rendered animal fats are more susceptible to growing salmonella or mold if moisture enters a bag.
On the other hand, human-grade pet foods are the best foods you can give to your pet. Simply put, human-grade pet foods contain ingredients that are suitable for human consumption. Most pet foods do not specify that they are human-grade, but you can determine this by reading the ingredients on the label. Some examples of human-grade ingredients include single-meat proteins like “chicken” or “beef,” fruits and vegetables like “apples” and “sweet potatoes,” and others like “bone broth” or “rice.”
Chemicals and Preservatives:
A lot of pet foods contains tons of artificial preservatives that are linked to health problems like cancer and tumors, skin irritation, and blood disorders. Here are some commonly found preservatives that you should avoid:
• Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
• Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
• Tert-butyl Hydroquinone (TBHQ)
• Propyl Gallate
• Potassium Sorbate
These chemicals are also often found in products like pesticides, synthetic rubbers, and resins.
Natural preservatives commonly come from or are forms of Vitamin E and Vitamin C. On the ingredients label, they’re known as “Mixed tocopherols” and “Ascorbates.” Natural preservatives do not improve a pet food’s shelf life as greatly as artificial preservatives do, but they are much cleaner and safer.
Artificial food dyes generally offer no nutritional value to pet foods and most commonly cause allergic reactions. They have even been linked to carcinogens and tumors. They are easily identifiable by color names and numbers like “Blue 2,” “Red 40,” and “Yellow 5,” to name a few.
If you find a healthy pet food that appears to be dyed, check the ingredients label for brightly colored or juicy fruits and vegetables like blueberries, beets, spinach, and carrots, all of which are totally safe for your pet to eat.
If your pet consumes an excess of artificial sweeteners, they may be at risk for obesity and diabetes. Avoid sweeteners like “corn syrup,” “fructose/sucrose,” and “caramel.” You’ll find these more often in dog foods than cat foods, because cats’ tongues do not have taste receptors for sweets, but some cat foods may still contain artificial sweeteners, a possible leading cause for diabetes in cats.
Commonly used natural sweeteners that are okay for pets to consume in moderation are honey and molasses. Sweet fruits like apples, blueberries, mangoes, and watermelons are also safe sweet treats for pets, also in moderation.
Aside from the above ingredients, there are still more commonly found ingredients that look questionable, but are actually safe “Enteroccus Faecium” and any type of “fermentation” product are just fancy names for probiotics. The essential mineral, copper, is found in a lot of pet foods, but generally in very small amounts. “Thiamene Mononitrate” and “Pyridoxine Hydrochloride” are forms of Vitamin B.
Check out our other blog posts on how to choose the right food and treats for your pet’s needs, as well as our dog foods and cat foods, sold both in store and online.
- Vanessa Rances