The Truth About Dog Food And Supplements

dog food and supplements

Americans love cereal! The cereal aisle is one of the most densely populated sections of the grocery store, lined with boxes upon boxes of fortified and enriched contents.

Moms feel good feeding this stuff to their children because it’s fortified with all of those vitamins and minerals we’ve been led to believe are the building blocks of health.

Have you ever thought about how similar a box of cereal and a bag of dog food are? They’re remarkably similar. Here are a few things they have in common:

  • They are both highly processed foods
  • Both need to be “fortified” with vitamins and minerals to have any value
  • They both cause ill health and disease in the unlucky consumer

Lets break down the truth about dog food and supplements…

The Dog’s Breakfast

The dog’s breakfast is slang for “a complete mess.” While nobody wrote down the exact origin of the phrase, it suggests food that’s only fit for consumption by the last resort, poor Fido. It means something so fouled up as to be utterly useless. But it really describes both breakfast cereal and processed dog food.

When you look at a box of cereal, you’ll often see the words “vitamin enriched” and “fortified.” What do these statements mean? They mean that the food has “vitamins” sprayed all over it. But if the food needs to be fortified in the first place … you can bet it’s because there’s something missing in that food.

High heating and processing destroys nutrients in food. Once processed, the food is devoid of any nutrients or enzymes … it’s devoid of “life.”

Dog food is treated much the same way. It’s heated, processed and extruded … until the final product is virtually unrecognizable as food by the body. Manufacturers can take the finest quality, human grade ingredients and put them through the extruding process. By the time it’s done, there isn’t much that separates dollar store food from the expensive premium brands.

In fact, the resulting product is so deficient in nutrients, it’s can’t even pass minimum AAFCO standards.

RELATED: Read why this veterinarian ignores her vet school training

Enter The Premix

Like breakfast cereal, kibble needs to be fortified to qualify as food. So the natural vitamins and minerals, enzymes and beneficial bacteria that were baked and processed out of the food … now get added back as something called a “premix.”

A premix is basically a bag of vitamins and minerals that’s added to the food. It enables the food to pass AAFCO standards and be sold as “complete and balanced nutrition.” This all sounds pretty logical to the kibble manufacturers, but smart pet owners might ask this question before buying that bag of food:

“Can a dead and sterile food be called nutritionally complete simply because some cheap, synthetic vitamins are sprayed on it?”

The Problem With Synthetic Nutrition

Have you ever looked at a dog food label? Not the part about chicken and rice. but the bottom half where it starts to look more like an organic chemistry textbook. All of those long, convoluted chemical names are, you guessed it, chemicals! They’re not food.

Real vitamins are living complexes that contribute to other living complexes like cell repair, circulatory activities and collagen production. They coexist in food with other living complexes like enzymes and essential trace minerals and they all function synergistically.

Synthetic vitamins, the kind found in premixes, were never alive nor part of anything alive. That’s what synthetic means … it occurs nowhere in nature. Synthetic vitamins are chemicals and the body recognizes them as chemicals, just like it does any other drug. This is why vitamins and drugs are both measured in milligrams. This is also why we have something called “vitamin toxicity.”

Fake Vitamins Create Toxicity

It’s virtually impossible to get too much vitamin D from sunshine or foods … but dogs are harmed from vitamin D toxicity from pet foods each and every year. Vitamin D toxicity, or hypervitaminosis D, causes bone loss and abnormally high serum calcium levels, which can result in kidney stones and the calcification of organs like the heart and kidneys. These are really common issues in dogs today, yet nobody suspects food as a cause until dogs literally drop dead from eating it. Until then, nobody makes the connection, so the synthetic vitamin D builds up in the dog and creates insidious and seemingly unrelated disease.

It’s also near impossible for real food to cause vitamin A toxicity. Yet synthetic vitamin A toxicity is well published and probably a lot more common that you might think. The effects of vitamin A toxicity include:

  • Increased tumor growth
  • Joint disorders
  • Dry skin
  • Enlargement of the liver and spleen
  • Immune depression
  • Birth defects

Half of adult dogs die of cancer while joint disease is affecting today’s dogs at epidemic proportions. Could your dog’s food have anything to do with this?

RELATED: Why your dog’s body doesn’t recognize synthetic vitamins and minerals

Kibble Creates Malnutrition

Here’s what every pet owner should know about synthetic vitamins and minerals in premixes (and this applies to all premixes, not just those made in China):

  • Vitamins, minerals and enzymes all work together as co-factors. If one part is missing, in the wrong form or in the wrong amount, then entire chains of metabolic processes will misfire, causing a downward spiral in health that can take months or years to manifest as disease.
  • Synthetic vitamins are treated as drugs by the body and like any other toxin, the liver has to filter them. Dr Casimir Funk says this about synthetic vitamins: “These are highly inferior to vitamins from natural sources, also the synthetic product is well known to be far more toxic.”
  • Even small doses of vitamin D and vitamin E have been shown to significantly decrease immune function.
  • Ascorbic acid is not vitamin C, it is a chemical isolate of vitamin C.
  • Synthetic vitamin B is manufactured from coal tar and vitamin B12 comes from activated sewage sludge.
  • Most vitamin D and lecithin is made from irradiated vegetable oils. Isn’t just a bit counter intuitive to eat something derived from oxidative trans fatty acids with the expectation of better health?
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be associated with virtually every disease. Dr DW Cavanaugh of Cornell University states, “There is only one major disease, and that is malnutrition.”

RELATED: How kibble harms your dog

Real Life Research On Fake Vitamins

What are the real life ramifications of these synthetic vitamins? There are a lot of studies that have a common theme: synthetic vitamins don’t behave in the body like the real ones do. Their actions are either incomplete or harmful. Here are some studies you should be aware of:

  • The 1994 New England Journal of Medicine published a study where 30,000 Finnish smokers were given beta carotene to show the value of antioxidant vitamins. (The body turns beta carotene into vitamin A, which is valuable for DNA synthesis and protecting the cells from harmful free radicals.) The researched showed the subjects who received the synthetic beta carotene were actually 8 times more likely to suffer fatal heart attacks and strokes than those who didn’t. 
  • In that same study, people taking the fake beta carotene also suffered significant increases in cancer. Lung cancer alone increased by 18%. The study was actually stopped because of the dangers to the people in it. What’s ironic is that synthetic beta carotene which, along with vitamin A, is a powerful antioxidant, is stabilized in refined vegetable oils which are oxidized trans fatty acids, the very things that antioxidants are meant to protect against!
  • A similar US study found equally troubling results showing that beta carotene and vitamin A had no benefit and may have caused more lung cancer and higher risk of death from lung cancer, cardiovascular and other diseases.
  • Two years later, another study in The Lancet showing that synthetic beta carotene actually blocked the antioxidant activity of all the other naturally occurring carotenoids in the diet.
  • In one study done in pigs, vitamin B rendered every subject sterile. (Dr Barnett Sure, Journ Natr 1939)

RELATED: Read more about the problems with synthetic vitamins

Two Wrongs Don’t Make Alive

The solution to dead food isn’t adding dead chemicals. At best, they are useless and at worst, they are toxic to the dogs eating them. Pet food manufacturers know their food is devoid of nutrition … so they add synthetic premixes. And pet owners know kibble isn’t as good as real food, so they add supplements. But most of these supplements also contain fake, dead, synthetic vitamins. You can put lipstick on a pig – but it’s still a pig!

If you want your children to get all of their vitamins and minerals, walk right by the cereal aisle and buy them some actual food. You remember food – it’s the stuff that grows in the ground and actually looks like it’s got some life left in it.

The same goes for your dog! He also needs to eat real food. The best way to tell if it’s real food is that the label has recognizable food names on it, not chemical names. If you see any ingredients on your dog food label that look like they would come from your drug store instead of your fridge, then don’t buy it – it’s fake!

Looking at a typical dog food label we see such things as: Acetate, Palmitate, Thiamine mononitrate, Thiamine hydrochloride, Thiamine Chloride, Pyridoxine hydrochloride, Cobalamin or cyanocobalamin, Ascorbic Acid, Pycnogenols, Irradiated ergosterol or Calciferol, dl-alpha tocopherol, Menadione, Beta Carotene and Retinoic acid . How many of these are true vitamins? Not a single one – they are all synthetic chemical derivatives.

Feed Real, Whole Foods

To meet all of his nutritional needs, feed your dog … food. Not people food, not dog food, just good old-fashioned, real food. Clean, fresh meats are an excellent source of vitamins A, E and D. Other vitamins can be sourced through fresh produce … preferably organically grown in mineral rich soil.

Can’t afford organic food for your dog? Then you should probably give him supplements. But look for whole food supplements. Unlike their synthetic counterparts, whole food vitamins are made from entire plants with the whole vitamin complex intact. The body actually recognizes this as food, not a drug, and the body doesn’t have to compensate for any missing elements because they are all there, just the way Mother Nature intended them to be. Whole food vitamins don’t leech the body of their missing co-factors … or cause a vitamin imbalance that leads to disease.

RELATED: Why your dog needs to eat vegetables

The dog’s breakfast is indeed so utterly messed up, it’s become completely useless at best and harmful at worst. It forces your dog to rely on these synthetic vitamins to make up for deficiencies in his food. What do you think the outcome will be?


Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group. The effect of vitamin E and beta carotene on the incidence of lung cancer and other cancers in male smokers. N Engl J Med. 1994 Apr 14;330(15):1029-35.

Gilbert S et al. Effects of a Combination of Beta Carotene and Vitamin A on Lung Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease. N Engl J Med 1996; 334:1150-1155

Janne M Rapola et al. Randomised trial of α-tocopherol and β-carotene supplements on incidence of major coronary events in men with previous myocardial infarction. The Lancet, Volume 349N umber 9067, p1709-1780.

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