Just What is in Dog Food?

Whilst researching a well known American dog food brand recently. I came across a blog (August 2015) on their website that mentioned Pentobarbital, the drug used in the euthanasia of humans, dogs and other animals has been found in major brands of dog food for sale in America. They were in fact referring to the FDA report of 2002. I think it is something worth mentioning. The FDA released a report on Pentobarbital in dog food in 2002, it is assumed Pentobarbital residue is entering pet food from rendered feed ingredients of cattle or even horses. Food and Drug Administration/Center for Veterinary Medicine Report on the Risk from Pentobarbital in Dog Food | FDA
Although I stand to be corrected, as far as I am aware nothing has changed to this day.
Now, whether rendered cats and dogs including those with Pentobarbital residue are in fact in some American dog foods, that is a subject very much at the heart of the dog food truth-seekers and their websites.

David mentioned this study back in March. However it is worth revisiting as many may not have read the actual study itself. To recap, in March 2015 a study titled " Investigation into the animal species contents of popular wet pet foods" was published. It was a study where researchers looked at the ingredients of 17 cat and dog wet foods available in the UK.
This was also mentioned in some of the newspapers at the time.


A new report has been published on the American pet food industry. The full report can be read here


A study into the occurrence of mycotoxins in 48 samples of extruded dry dog food found in the Italian market was published earlier this year.
The full text can be read here


It is all very concerning. With so many horror stories about the food industry in terms of human food, it is worrying thinking about what may be going into pet food!

Thank you for bringing this to our attention Seaweed. For anyone who is reading this and has not heard of mycotoxins (that goes for me), here is an explanation of what they are:
“A mycotoxin is a toxic secondary metabolite produced by organisms of the fungi kingdom, commonly known as molds. The term ‘mycotoxin’ is usually reserved for the toxic chemical products produced by fungi that readily colonize crops. One mold species may produce many different mycotoxins, and the same mycotoxin may be produced by several species.” (from Wikipedia).

The government Food Standards Agency report on Mycotoxins in food and animal feed is here.

I need to study the earlier links more carefully but I see that one of them is Italian. I am not sure what their standards are regarding manufacture and storage of pet food. I wonder if the results may be different if the research was repeated elsewhere. Both articles cite grain as being the cause of the fungus so opting for a grain free product when using extruded food seems a sensible option if one is worried about it.

There are many risk factors in life and this is perhaps one of those but there are millions of dogs who have extruded food and are quite healthy. It seems that whatever we feed our dogs there is a risk of one sort or another. Even home made food is said to be problematical if we do not get the balance right. Personally, I feel that we can quite easily fret about this sort of thing and it can spoil the enjoyment of our pets if we let it. However, for those who feed dry food but who would wish to minimize exposure to mycotoxins in their pet’s diet, the guidelines in one of the articles seems very straightforward and easy to follow:

*** Opt for a pet food that is free of cereal grains.
* If you must feed a commercial food containing cereal grains, call the manufacturer and ask them what steps they take to avoid mycotoxin exposure.
* Also ask the pet food company whether they routinely test for mycotoxin contamination.
* Rotate your kibble with a high-quality canned food or a home-prepared meal a couple of times a week.**

Carrageenan is an ingredient found in some wet dog foods that has been causing concern for some time and it would be easy to fill this topic up with nothing but links.
Carrageenan can be found in some wet dog foods in the UK so if concerned it’s worth checking the label. The links below can explain far better than I but basically Carrageenan is used for gelling, thickening and stabilising food. It has been linked to inflammation of the stomach that can lead to ulceration’s or worse.
A full study “Review of harmful gastrointestinal effects of carrageenan in animal experiments.” can be read in pdf at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pcm/articles/PMC1242073/

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A good find Seaweed. I only really read about this a few months ago when checking out alternatives to milk. It is sometimes used as a thickener in soy milk and coconut or almond milk. Probably a number of other foods too. It looks like some manufacturers are phasing it out due to consumer demand.

That was good work Tinyplanets finding Carrageenan when looking into alternative milks. In America there is the “GUT WRENCHING! Tell FDA to Remove Toxin (Carrageenan) from Food” petition". It seems a common ingredient in American wet dog food but not so prevalent in UK wet dog food. However saying that it didn’t take long to find some that did have it as an ingredient. ZiwiPeak have now taken Carrageenan out of their moist canned dog foods and now use Agar-Agar as gelling agent. www.ziwipeak.com/frequently-asked-questions/carrageenan-in-ziwipeaks-canned-product/

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Have you found any wet food containing this that is sold in the UK? I cannot remember seeing it when I have looked at various wet food products.

Dottie, Fish4Dogs Trout Mousse and Salmon Mousse has Carrageenan in the ingredients. Carrageenan also flags up in the AADF food directory with Advanced Nutrition and Husse Adult Meaty Chunks also Husse Light Meaty Chunks. I expect it is in just a few UK dog foods but not widespread. If I stumble across any I will update.


“Scientist Accidentally Discovers a Possible Culprit in the Growing Incidence of Cancer” as a test, Dr Turesky analysed the fur of his own dogs and much to his surprise, discovered the presence of one of the carcinogens he is researching. Since his dogs don’t eat grilled steaks or burgers, it seemed clear they were being exposed through their own processed pet food diet.
An interesting Skype video between Dr Karen Becker and Dr Robert Turesky.

It does seem odd that more research hasn’t been done in this area. An interesting read.

An article in three parts on “What The Pet Food Label Doesn’t Tell You”.

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Thank you for the link Seaweed. I have read the article and the information within it is most interesting. I always like to see information that is referenced and this one is.

**Labels describing food as hypoallergnic, natural and sensitive: **
The title of the piece is not particularly descriptive so it is worth mentioning that the article is about the regulations surrounding the use of the words hypoallergenic, natural and sensitive. Clearly this is going to be particularly useful for owners whose pets are thought to have intolerance e.g. digestive, skin problems etc. This article would make very useful reading for those people, particularly as in some cases the labels can be misleading.

Because the subject is pertinent to food intolerance I have updated the thread on Food intolerance and exclusion diets so that it can be located more easily should anyone need the information.

Other articles on the website are also referenced and one that took my attention is Storage Mites, a Common Cause of Skin Allergy in Dogs.

A study concerning BPA (Bisphenol A) being used in the lining of dog food cans has recently been published. I do not know to what extent this is used in the UK. I asked Lily’s Kitchen back in Dec 2015 if they used BPA in the lining of their dog food tins, they assured me that none of their tins are lined with BPA. Another company I contacted did not know off hand and they would have to ask the manufacturer. I will pursue this further with them in the New Year.


Good Point Meg. I would be interested to know what chemicals are used instead of BPA. BPA is in so many products. http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2012/dog-toys
Royal Jelly is worth researching as regards BPA as I believe there was Human study/trial done in 2006/2007.

Morning! I volunteer as a Pet Adviser for the Dachshund Breed Council and help to advise pet owners on Facebook and other social media about buying and owning a Dachshund. I always point them towards the AADF site if they ask about food as what suits one dog doesn’t suit another, suggesting they buy the best quality food they can afford of the type that works best for them.

Today someone in the States has sent me this link http://truthaboutpetfood.com/which-pet-foods-have-bpa-free-cans/ and I have to confess I had never heard of this issue before. Can you confirm what the situation is here in the U.K.? Is the use of BPA regulated here? According to the article it is in Europe , but maybe that doesn’t include UK - or post BREXIT maybe this is one of those very little known about bits of legislation that will be affected.

Any ideas?

BPA is in the UK. The EU banned BPA from baby bottles from 2011, I believe. Regarding dog food, how much it is used in lining of cans or plastic tubs etc I do not know. I do urge anyone concerned to contact their dog food manufacturer for clarification as to whether their food packaging is BPA free.
Some dog food manufactures do seem to be interested in being BPA free. Raw food companies, Benyfit Natural’s new packaging is BPA Free, Natural Instinct use rPet, (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) , Paleo Ridge Raw use completely biodegradable packaging made from 100% recycled cardboard/paper.


But does anyone know about this EU legislation on BPU in cans? Maybe it is kept to very low limits?