This week we came across an image posted by Rodney Habib of Planet Dog. Rodney had a brilliant idea: to visually depict what your dog’s dinner is comprised of. Without further delay, here are the ingredients in a typical dry dog food:

dog food cornLet’s take a closer look at these ingredients and what they mean for the unlucky dog who consumes them, day in and day out.

Corn

When fed large amounts of corn, cattle (who, unlike dogs, are meant to eat starches), develop acid buildup and ulcers which can deteriorate the gut lining  and this can cause gas, bloating and lameness. Corn can eat away part of a cow’s stomach, says Allen Williams, a former feedlot owner and cattle specialist at Mississippi State University. Cattle can actually discharge part of their stomachs through their rectums, he said. Nearly all corn produced in the US is now genetically modified.

Food Dyes

Food dyes present a rainbow of dangers. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), reports, “The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens … Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply.”

Chicken By-Product

About 50% of every food animal does not get used in human foods. Whatever remains of the carcass — heads, feet, bones, blood, intestines, lungs, spleens, livers, ligaments, fat trimmings, unborn babies, and other parts not generally consumed by humans — is used in pet food, animal feed, fertilizer, industrial lubricants, soap, rubber, and other products. These other parts are called by-products. Moreover, because of persistent rumors that rendered by-products contain dead dogs and cats, the FDA conducted a study looking for phenobarbital, the most common euthanasia drug, in pet foods. They found it.

Corn Gluten Meal

This product is added as a cheap way to boost the protein content of the kibble. It also helps absorb the toxins found in the contaminated food sources that may go into the food.  Most corn gluten meal is produced in China. Here’s an interesting fact about corn gluten meal: it kills weeds. That might be the only good use for it.

Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is used to maintain the moisture in the food. It kills red blood cells in cats (and therefore kills cats), so it’s banned from their foods – maybe that’s because it’s basically antifreeze. But it’s deemed perfectly safe for dog food because none have overtly died yet. However nobody has looked at the cumulative effect of eating small amounts of this poisonous substance, day after day.

Vitamin Premix

Surely vitamins are good for your dog, right? Well, there’s three problems with vitamin premixes. First, they are virtually all manufactured in China and Inda where standards aren’t so great. In fact, it was the vitamin premix that killed all those dogs and cats back in 2007. The Chinese added melamine to their premix to boost the protein content. Problem number two is that research is showing synthetic vitamins to cause cancer and other health issues in those who consume them. Problem number three: the food is so overly processed and highly heated that there is no nutrition left in it and this is why the vitamin premix is necessary. The food wouldn’t pass AAFCO standards otherwise. There’s a saying in the industry that you could make a bag of sand pass AAFCO standards with the right premix and that’s probably true.

If you let somebody else choose what to feed your pet, the above ingredients are the likely result. Fancy marketing may fool you into thinking this stuff is good for your dog but the bottom line is, well, the bottom line. These ingredients are in your pet’s food because they are easily sourced and inexpensive. Only you can decide whether your dog deserves better.