24 Chemicals to Avoid in Dog Food – Dangerous Substances

TheOne of the responsibilities of adopting pets is to feed them. Just like humans, pet need necessary nutrition in order to keep alive. Since adopted pets need to adapt to domestic habitat, it is the owner responsibility to make sure they are well-fed. One of the most adopted pets is dog. Dog is generally an easy pet to take care. Yet, dog is also a sensitive animal in which the food intake will easily affect their health.

In giving dog food, owners are now helped by the commercialized dog food that is easy to give and is more practical. Dog food often is added with food additives and nutrition in order to enhance the quality of the food. Some of the chemicals in dog food are generally safe, just like human’s one with their chemicals in food, but not all of them are advised to be given to dog. Those chemicals can trigger certain unwanted reaction that may endanger the dog. Here is the list of 24 chemicals to avoid in dog food.

  1. Ethoxyquin

Ethoxyquin is one of the chemicals that is best to avoid in dog food.  This chemical is often used as food preservative to lengthen the food’s freshness as well as pesticide to control scald. It is a colorless chemical with antioxidant effect on the product. Outside United States, ethoxyquin is now longer allowed to be used as food additive. (Related to List of Food Preservatives).


Recent study found the safety of ethoxyquin is lacking. There is no strong proof that the chemical is safe. Certain study found ethoxyquin to be toxic to certain animal like fish, cat, and dog. Authorities suspect the chemical to be the trigger of several health problems found in dog as a result of consuming dog food with ethoxyquin as preservative. Therefore, it is best to avoid ethoxyquin in the dog food given to our pets.

  1. Monosodium Glutamate

Monosodium glutamate or MSG is common enhancer used in both human and pet food. The function is to enhance the food flavour to be more appetizing. Monosodium glutamate belongs to sodium class that has the ability to strengthen the chemical in a food. Law suspects the use of monosodium glutamate in a low appetizing dog food as it is made from low quality ingredients.


Monosodium glutamate can cause allergy in dog and excessive consumption of it can cause more life-threatening effect such as organ damages just like what listed in harmful list of banned food additives in many countries. MSG can also cause muscle pain and numbed nerve as the chemical interfere with the body system. Thus, always check the label because MSG also comes with ambiguous name such as disodium isonate, monopotassium glutamate, glutanic acid, etc.

  1. Gluten

Gluten is an organic compound often found in grains. For humans, gluten is beneficial to improve the health of digestion system by making indigestion runs more smoothly. The substance can be found in corn, grain, wheat, and oats as part of the nutrition. Moreover, it is also used as food additive in sweets as well. While gluten is not dangerous for humans, it expose certain hazard on dog. 


Dog is more sensitive in their digestion to process gluten fiber compared to human. A consumption of grain can cause digestion distress on dog as gluten makes their system overwork. Not only they will get sick in the stomach, they can also develop allergy as the excessive amount of gluten gets detected as strange chemical by dogs immune system. Dogs who are allergic to gluten will show ear infection, swollen ears, itching, and burning scratch on their bodies. Because of that, gluten is not allowed in dog food and is a must to avoid.

  1. Xylitol

Xylitol is commonly used as ingredients in candy and toothpaste. The xylitol is a sugar alcohol sweetener with colorless color and is soluble to water. It also occurs naturally on some kind of fruits naturally. Also, it is one of chemical used as the promoted sweetener for diabetic patient. Hence, it is generally safe for human. However, this does not apply to dog.


This chemical causes a sudden surge of sugar level in dog’s blood followed by a drastic drop of it. Moreover, it messes with their blood circulation and increase dog’s crave for sweets. The health problems it can cause to dog are hyperglycemia, liver failure, sizure, and in worst case, can cause death. As xylitol caused sugar imbalance in dog’s body, it is best not to use sugar alcohol-induced dog food or any sweetener chemicals. Even though sweetener outside xylitol is not dangerous, the dog may crave for sweet more and increase the sugar intake.

  1. Nitrites

Another chemical or food additive that dog cannot consume is nitrite. Nitrite or nitrate is common food preservatives. It serves to give the product a longer expiration.  The chemical generally found in meats, sausages, ham, and other processed meats. Even though its use is permit-table, experts advise for pet owner to avoid meats with this preservative. To know more about nitrite/nitrate, read Sodium Nitrate Uses in Food.


Nitrite can cause blood disorder where the chemical disturb the blood production and circulation. Health disorder caused by nitrite is it interferes with the blood system of the dog. The disease that can occur is called methaemoglobin. Moreover, accumulation of nitrite in dog can cause cancer as researchers suspect nitrites to be carcinogenic to dog. Therefore, it is best to avoid it. 

  1. Sodium Tripolyphosphate

Sodium tripolyphosphate is an ingredient for preservative in dog food. It is also the same chemical in detergant and other cleaning agents. The chemical is generally water soluble and has the after taste of clean, lemon-like one. The use of this chemical for dog foods is now prohibited as it cause many complicated health issues to dog.


The sodium tripolyphosphate can cause skin irritation and is suspected to be neurotoxin. Neurotoxin means there is a chance the chemical can cause wrecked nerve system, causing the dogs not being able to use their bodies properly. Even though, this chemical is proven to be edible, it has no nutritional value as well.

Other Chemicals to Avoid Include

Here are more chemicals to avoid in dog food:


[tr][td]Soy[/td] [td]Propylene Gylcol[/td] [td]Cellulose[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sodium Hexametaphospate[/td] [td]BHA[/td] [td]BHT[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Pea Protein[/td] [td]Fatty Acids[/td] [td]Rendered Fat[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Salt[/td] [td]Corn Syrup[/td] [td]Violet 8[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Yeast[/td] [td]Saccharine[/td] [td]White Flour[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Red 40[/td] [td]4-MIE[/td] [td]Formaldehyde[/td][/tr]


To be able to give the healthiest and safest dog food, it is best to always read the label in each products or use organic food as alternative. These are 24 chemicals to avoid in dog food.

Also read: Dangers of Borax on Pets You Should Aware.