What’s in Pet Food – Defining Toxic Substances

dog food in iron scoop on weighing scale

Massive Pet Food Recall – Going Back in Time to Spring of 2007

2007 was a horrific time for many pet owners hit by an unexpected emotional storm. It devastated their confidence and trust in themselves and the pet food industry. Over 8500 dogs and cats died. Hundreds of thousands of pets were sick. Kidney damage, failure, disease, death. The cause? Contaminated ingredients in their dry food, canned food and treats. All contained melamine-tainted wheat gluten and rice protein from China.

Menu Foods Manufacturing facility was the largest manufacturer of pet foods in North America. The Canadian Company, based out of Ontario, Canada, had since been sold to Simmons Food in 2010

Menu Foods made food for multiple pet food companies, including certain so-called top holistic brands. There were over 100 different pet food brands manufactured by them. All of them and their distributors recalled.

Here are just a few, but certainly not all, pet food companies that Menu Foods was making foods for: Hill’s, Iams, Royal Canin, Sunshine Mills, Choice-Preferred Pet, Eukanuba, Natural Life vegetarian dog, Nutro, Nutriplan, Pet Pride.

Menu Foods purchased wheat gluten with Melamine from China. Melamine is a pesticide byproduct of pesticides such as Cyromazine. Cyromazine breaks down back into melamine after an animal ingests it. Melamine added to wheat gluten falsely increases the protein content, so the bag is labelled as having high protein when it does not.

The Melamine chemical is also in plastics and wood resin adhesive.

There were other chemical byproducts of melamine found, such as Cyanuric Acid. Both combined formed crystals in the pets that eat the food. Crystals in the kidneys cause kidney disease and kidney failure. 

Other pet food manufacturers bought the same wheat gluten from China, and their pet food client recalls were: Alpo, Del Monte Products, Purina, Blue Buffalo, Diamond Petfoods, Kirkland from Costco.

China is the largest supplier of material in pet food. 

Unfortunately, there are still recalls that happen today for a multitude of reasons. It is up to the consumer to be aware of what is in pet food and where it is sourced. Pet owners can take responsibility to learn about some of the harmful substances in pet food. 

Top view of beef and chicken dog food cans opened on a white background.

Harmful Substances

These are just a few but not limited examples of harmful toxins in commercial pet food:

  • Sodium Nitrate – Causes cancer. In processed foods. 
  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA), Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) – Synthetic Antioxidant chemicals. Preservative. Causes brain defects. Used in research labs on animals.
  • Propyl-gallate – To preserve fat, equals long shelf life unaffected by light or heat. 
  • Dye’s – Synthetic chemical.
  • Lead – Toxic metal.
  • Artificial flavoring – Synthetic chemical.
  • Minerals, vitamins – Synthetic, not natural.
  • Sugars, additives, stabilizers, taste enhancers – Synthetic chemicals.
  • Salt – Causes hypertension.
  • Euthanized cats and dogs.
  • Ethoxyquin – Synthetic antioxidant preservative. In human food in minimal amounts but 30 times more in pet food. Prevents fat in dog food from going rancid. It is a preservative. Slowly causes liver damage, cancer, skin problems, blindness, coma, seizures and death. 
  • Animal Excrement – Dehydrated and includes straw, wood shavings, litter, rocks, dirt, etc.
  • Garbage 
  • Sodium Pentobarbital – Veterinarians and animal shelters use this barbiturate drug to euthanize animals.
  • Mycotoxins – When fungi grows because of excessive moisture from improper storage, handling or harvesting, the fungi contaminated grains produce these mycotoxins which can lead to organ failure if enough is ingested.
food can with poison label


Pet Food Labelling

There are very minimal regulations, testing and enforcement of the regulations. It is a highly unregulated industry despite what the pet food industry tells you. Not all ingredients are listed on the label. If they were added by the supplier of raw materials or manufacturer before the product reached the pet food company, they are not listed. Some companies claim that they don’t even know precisely what has gone into their product when the finished product reaches them. 

So the questions to ask are, who all plays a role? Who is the raw material supplier? Who is the distributor? Who is the renderer? Who is the manufacturer? Who is the packager? How are the ingredients sourced? Which chemicals do they use? Is their research dependent on cruel animal experimentation like several popular brands have already done and still do? Our pets deserve to know.

white english bulldog standing on green grass and drink water in stainless steel bowl at the park

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