Dog food ingredients you should avoid

Your pup’s health is largely dependent on the kind of food you give them. If you want your furry friend to live a happy and healthy life, you need to ensure they are eating a healthy diet.

However, it can be quite difficult for you finding the best options of food because there are now different food products on the market. But the good part is that you can easily cut through different brands and find out what’s in the food by looking at the list of ingredients.

As a dog owner, you need to train yourself to look at your dog’s food label closely. Many ingredients contained in commercial brands are often used because they are either inexpensive or keep the food fresh for long.

But you don’t want your pup to consume potential toxins on a regular basis. That’s more reason you need to review the product label before you open another bag or can.

Photo by bill emrich from Pexels

Here is a list of dog food ingredients you should avoid at all cost:

Propylene glycol

This food additive is often used to keep food moist and soft. Although PG is generally recognized as safe by the FDA, it is still artificial and experts advise that you should avoid it in your dog’s food.

Some people confuse propylene glycol with ethylene glycol (antifreeze), but there’s a clear-cut difference between the two. Propylene glycol is sometimes used as a non-toxic alternative in antifreeze but ethylene glycol is highly toxic to dogs.


This is a plastic containing nitrogen, and it is added to many food products to make it look like it contains more protein. But ingesting melamine is toxic and can lead to kidney failure, depending on the dose and the size of the dog.

In fact, in 2007, melamine was response for one of the worst dog food recalls. However, it is quite unfortunate that today, melamine testing is still not mandated in food products.

That’s more reason why you need to always ask questions whenever you’re not sure of the ingredients in any dog food.


Carrageenan is extracted from red sea weed, and it mostly used as a thickener to improve consistency in wet dog foods.

Although the FDA and AAFCO considers it to be safe as a food additive, the degraded variant called “poligeenan” is shown to be potentially harmful and it’s not permitted in food.

Several studies show that poligeenan can lead to GI inflammation and cancer, so it is best to avoid it in dog foods.

BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin

These artificial preservatives are often added in many traditional treats and foods to extend their shelf life. However, there are many growing concerns that the long-term consumption of these ingredients can be harmful.

Ethoxyquin, for example, which is commonly used as a fat preservative, is also an ingredient in pesticides. Studies show that this substance raise hemoglobin pigment in the liver and enzymes in the blood.

If you see any of these three ingredients on a dog food label, it is best to back away.

Food dyes or corn syrup

Many brands add dyes to their pet food products to make it look more appealing to humans. But this is not healthy.

Some add a high amount of sweeteners, such as corn syrup just to make it taste better. But the bad part is that these sweeteners have a high glycemic index that adds no particular benefit to the health. More so, dogs do not even want their food to taste sweet, so why add it?

Meat meal

Avoid foods that adds any kind of protein “meal” on their label. These products are often made through a process called rendering, where dead animals are scrapped and the collected parts are heated up to make food.

Meat producers take all the scraps and leftover bits, cook them and remove the fat. After this process, the meat remains but does not contain any protein. However, the nutritional quality depends on the part of the animal processed.

White flour

You should avoid white flour in your dog’s food because most of its nutrition is stripped. It only causes a spike and then drop in blood sugar. This can make your dog become hungry sooner after consuming foods containing this ingredient.

More so, overconsumption of white flour can lead to weight gain, diabetes and obesity.


Many people avoid gluten to improve their digestion and lose weight, but there are more serious reasons to avoid this ingredient in your dog’s food.

Dogs are more receptive to gluten-containing grains, and they can develop allergies and suffer digestive distress.

There are many gluten-containing grains, such as barley or grain, and wheat gluten is largely used as binders to form the kibble shape.

The high quantities of grains in the processed kibble diets cause hot spots, itching, and ear infections, which are sings of gluten sensitivity and allergy in dogs.

Farmed Salmon

Salmons are naturally healthy, but farmed salmon can include harmful toxins. This salmon is often listed as just salmon, salmon oil, and salmon meal in your pet’s food but they add PCBs, mercury, and other fat-soluble toxins to the diet.

More so, the levels of 13 fat-soluble pollutants in farmed salmons is 10 times higher than wild salmon. That’s why the cancer rate of consuming farmed fish is more than that of wild fish.

Sodium Hexametaphosphate

This ingredient is often added in dental dog foods to control tartar build-up. It may sound appealing to allow this ingredient in dogs that needs to be put under anesthesia for routine dental cleaning, it can cause adverse effects when your dog ingest it.

So, you can simply consider food options that do not add this ingredient, and brush your dog’s teeth by yourself.

Soy & Soybean meal

Soy & Soybean meal is a popular ingredient that has faced many controversial debates. Many people consider is has harmless since it’s eaten in moderation.

However, soy & soybean meal is not needed in your pet’s food as they could result in some uncomfortable symptoms. That’s simply because the biological systems in dogs is quite different from that of humans.

Dogs can suffer flatulence, bloating, and digestive problems when they consume foods containing soy. This ingredient is a common allergen and it is best to replace them with high-quality protein sources.


Xylitol is sugar alcohol, and it is mainly used as an artificial sweetener. It is commonly added to mouthwash, toothpaste, and many human products. But adding it to dog foods can be harmful.

Xylitol can cause vomiting, lethargy, loss of coordination, and seizures in dogs when ingested. Hence, consider avoiding brands that adds this ingredient to prevent these symptoms in your canine friend.


Dog foods often come with a list of ingredients on the label and it is important for you to give a close look. The simple reason is that many ingredients, such as those listed above, are toxic and can trigger a lot of health problems.

Hence, it is better to avoid these ingredients and choose healthy options to keep your dog in good condition and improve their overall wellbeing. Lastly, ensure you follow feeding instructions on food product labels, so as to give your pup the right meal portion for their age and size.



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