As if pet owners don’t have enough things to worry about with their pet food, now we have to be concerned about high levels of fluoride in pet food.  Environmental Working Group (EWG) just released a new study that showed high levels of fluoride in eight of ten pet foods tested.

Fluoride would be the last thing you would think of when selecting a dog food or cat food, however when you consider the latest study published by EWG, fluoride contamination appears to be a risk with some pet foods.  “Eight of 10 dog food brands tested by an independent laboratory commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG) contain fluoride in amounts up to 2.5 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) national drinking water standard.”

Veterinary science has not studied safe levels of fluoride for dogs, however people who consume excessive fluoride “often develop mottled teeth (dental fluorosis) and weakened bones, leading to more fractures.  High fluoride consumption is also associated with reproductive and developmental system damage, neurotoxicity, hormonal disruption and bone cancer (NRC 2006).”

The EWG report states: “Fluoride occurs naturally in some water supplies. But two-thirds of Americans — and their pets and livestock– drink water that has been artificially fluoridated on grounds it improves dental health.  Fluoride is also found in certain foods, those from plants grown in high-fluoride soils or those to which the chemical is introduced during processing. Once ingested with food or water, fluoride accumulates in the bones.  An average dog who drinks adequate water daily would be exposed to 0.05 to 0.1 milligrams of fluoride per kilogram of body weight, depending on the dog’s weight and water consumption. But those dogs who eat food high in fluoride, day in and day out, may be exposed to unsafe levels of fluoride.  For example, a 10-pound puppy that eats about a cup of dog food a day would consume 0.25 milligrams of fluoride per kilogram of body weight per day, an amount five times higher than the ”safe” level set by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”

EWG concluded the ingredients common to the high levels of fluoride in dog food include “chicken by-product meal”, “poultry by-product meal”, “chicken meal”, “beef and bone meal”.  The EWG report mistakenly states the above ingredients are “basically ground bones, cooked with steam, dried, and mashed to make a cheap dog food filler.”  This statement is incorrect.  The pet food ingredient ‘chicken meal’ is NOT ‘basically cooked ground bones’.  Some pet food manufacturers include muscle meat, internal organs and bones in their chicken meal, others use muscle meat ONLY in their chicken meal.  (This information is being added to Petsumer Report as responses from manufacturers are received; approximately 75% of reviews provide this information.)

It is assumed from the EWG report the conclusion derived from this study is that by-products (some internal organs are defined as by-products) and bone meals are the source of high fluoride levels in dog foods.  Although cat foods were not studied by EWG, it is as well assumed cats are subject to the same risks of high fluoride levels in some cat foods.  Dog food and cat food ingredients that could contain high levels of fluoride (based on EWG’s findings) are:  chicken by-product meal, poultry by-product meal, meat meal, meat and bone meal, animal digest, chicken meal (when manufacturer includes bones and/or internal organs in chicken meal).

To limit your pet’s risk to excessive amounts of fluoride, avoid pet foods that contain the above mentioned ingredients.  Again, please note, the ingredient chicken meal should only be a risk ingredient (per the EWG report) if the ingredient contains bones and/or internal organs.  If you have any doubt if the pet food ingredient chicken meal used in your pet’s food contains bones and/or internal organs, call or email the manufacturer.

As well, fluoride water filters are available.  However, they are pricey and your search needs to be specific to filter fluoride from the water.  As example, a Brita water filter does NOT filter fluoride.

To read the full EWG report, visit