How well do you read the labels on products you purchase for your pets? Do you know which ingredients to avoid? How often do pet product companies list ingredients in such a way that pet owners are not aware of the true nature of the ingredient?

Corn and corn derivatives can be labeled as: corn, corn gluten, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, dextrin, maltodextrose, corn sugar, dextrose, caramel color, malt, malt flavoring, malic acid, maltose, modified food starch, sorbitol, starch, maize, xylitol, xanthum, and other names.

While xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and should never be fed, sorbitol is a sugar substitute that is not highly toxic. Sorbitol eaten in large amounts may contribute to loose stool or nausea. However, xylitol is found in many pet products, even though we know it can cause death in dogs!

Carrageenan, guar, xanthum, and cassia gums are used as thickening agents in many canned pet foods (and many human foods). None of these ingredients are recommended, as they may contribute to inflammatory bowel disease.

BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, propylene glycol, propyl gallate, TBHQ, salt, and sugar (labeled in various forms like dextrose, dextrin, maltose, sucrose, etc) are all used as preservatives. Many of these have been shown to cause cancer, contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease, and contribute to diabetes. Tocopherol is natural vitamin E, an antioxidant, that would be a better choice.

Dyes of any sort do not belong in pet food. Real food will have natural color, no dyes are necessary. Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6 all contain benzidene, which, according to the Environmental Health Perspectives journal, is a human and animal carcinogen.

Brewer’s rice is the small milled fragments of rice kernels that have been separated from the larger kernels of milled rice.This is a processed product that is missing many of the nutrients contained in whole ground rice and brown rice, making this a poor quality ingredient.

Flavor enhancers include animal fat sprayed onto dry kibble. Rendered animal fat and Animal Digest can potentially be rancid, depending on processing and storage conditions. Once a bag of kibble is opened and exposed to the air, oxidation occurs, making the fat rancid. All kibble should be stored in a cool area in an airtight container and used within three weeks of purchase. This ingredient is usually derived from unidentified animals. That means the food possibly has particles from roadkill, dead zoo animals, or even euthanized animals. Flavor enhancers can also contain sugar, salt, yeast, and monosodium glutamate, or MSG.

Canola and other vegetable oils such as soy, corn, sunflower, safflower, and palm oils contain omega-6 fatty acids, which can cause inflammation. Many of these oils are made from GMO grains.

Glycerin is found in many treats, foods, and dental products. If it is not designated as vegetable glycerin, there is a good chance it is made from waste products of biodiesel fuel production or petroleum based chemicals. In 2007, there were several deaths in people who had ingested cough syrups containing glycerin that had been contaminated with diethylene glycol. Since then, any glycerin that is meant for use in human food or in pharmaceuticals must go through very strict testing. The result is that the price of food grade glycerin became much more expensive than industrial grade glycerin. You should always question the use of glycerin in products for your pets.

Poultry protein isolate – while not dangerous, this is the fancy name for ground chicken feathers. Used in very high priced prescription diets for allergies and inflammatory bowel disease.

This list is not complete, as there are many toxic ingredients in pet food, treats, and supplements. Learn to read labels to keep your pets healthy. Buy from companies you trust. Personally, my dogs eat Allprovide, because I know the quality of ingredients and I can pronounce everything on the label! Nothing synthetic. I will also cook for my dogs when I need a special diet. I really like Dr. Harvey’s Paradigm as a base mix, as well.