Friday, November 6th, 2009 | Random Stuff | 24 Comments
Ethoxyquin has become quite the topic of discussion with crazy dog people like me of late. It’s been determined that it is contained in quite a few premium food brands, several of which are used by Swissy people. And those Swissies have been doing very well on the food while it has contained ethoxyquin all along.
As some people here may know, both Indy and Gryffin are raw fed while Beowulf is on kibble. We are lucky enough that the kibble we feed (Fromm) is not on the list of foods containing ethoxyquin. But the question still remains…should you switch your dog’s food if it is on the list? Would I if it were me? I can honestly say that if we were feeding Beowulf one of the foods containing it, and he was doing well the entire time, it would be a very tough choice for me.
So, to help you understand why ethoxyquin is such a big deal, Dana Montero, aka the Dog Food Guru, has written today’s guest post.
I have recently been getting a large number of questions regarding a preservative that is sometimes found in commercial dog foods called ethoxyquin or “E”. I would like to take a moment to try to explain to the readers of this blog what ethoxyquin is, the controversy and facts surrounding it, why we don’t want it in our dogs’ food, and what alternatives there are. I will also relay my findings after having personally contacted several dog food manufacturers and verified the use (or not, as the case may be) of ethoxyquin as a preservative in their products.
What is ethoxyquin, exactly?
Ethoxyquin was developed 35 years ago as a rubber stabilizer, has been used as a chemical preservative and is regulated by the FDA as a pesticide. Yes folks, I said pesticide. Scary huh? The FDA recognizes that this chemical has toxic side effects and as such has restricted its use in human foods, allowing for only trace amounts (.5 to 5ppm), yet they continue to allow its use in pet foods. The allowed amount for pet foods is extremely high (150ppm). Ethoxyquin has been linked to liver and kidney problems, cancer, reproductive issues, behavior problems, hemolytic anemia, stillborn pups, birth defects such as cleft palates, and various skin and coat conditions. The developer of ethoxyquin, Monsanto, even made sure that warning labels on containers of this chemical warn workers to wear eye and respiratory protection, and to only handle it with gloves. The container itself features a prominent skull and crossbones sign with the word POISON on it and it is listed as a hazardous chemical by OSHA. Ethoxyquin has also been linked to seizures. A mere 10 drops of this substance is enough to cause convulsions, coma and death.
If ethoxyquin is so bad, why is it used in pet foods?
Ethoxyquin remains stable at very high temperatures and protects fats and oils from becoming rancid. Foods preserved with ethoxyquin have a rather long shelf life and are less expensive to produce than foods using a natural antioxidant as preservatives. Some pet food manufacturers claim that the US Coast Guard REQUIRES them to use ethoxyquin as a preservative in their fish meals. This is not accurate – US Coast Guard regulations require that fish meals be preserved with antioxidants, and specifically name ethoxyquin – UNLESS the manufacturer has a special permit to use other antioxidants.
OK – so ethoxyquin is potentially harmful and we don’t want it in our pets’ food. What other alternatives are there?
Vitamin C, citric acid, Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) and Naturox are all safe, natural alternatives. Naturox is the brand name for a combination of mixed tocopherols (usually Vitamin E), citric acid, vegetable oil and rosemary extract. The downside to natural preservatives such as those named above is price – they are more expensive to use, and shelf life is shorter. This means producing more batches of dog food more often.
Does my dog food brand contain ethoxyquin?
Pet food manufacturers are not legally required to list ethoxyquin on their labeling unless they add it themselves during processing. This means if their suppliers use it on their crude ingredients before delivery to the processing plant, they are not required to list it on the bag. Note that foods containing FISH, SALMON, OCEAN FISH, MENHADEN, HERRING, WHITEFISH, etc are ethoxyquin free, unless otherwise specified on the packaging, as these ingredients are made from fresh fish. The ingredients that you should be concerned about are fish MEALS (ocean fish meal, herring meal, salmon meal, etc).
I have personally contacted several manufacturers by telephone, fax or email and received responses. If your brand is not listed below, this means that either I have been unable to reach a representative, have not received a response as yet, or have not yet contacted that particular manufacturer. Should you have questions about your brand of food and it is not listed below, feel free to contact me via my website and I will work on getting answers for you.
Foods confirmed to be ethoxyquin-free:
Flint River Ranch
Halo (Spot’s Stew)
Castor & Pollux
Foods confirmed to use ethoxyquin (should be avoided):
Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul
Taste of the Wild
Fosters & Smith
When there are foods out there that are free from toxins, why feed food that could potentially harm your dog – when you have a choice?
If you have questions for Dana, they can be posted here and I will make sure she gets them. You may also contact Dana through her website and she will answer you directly.
This was a rather confusing issue for me up until now. I hope Dana’s information has provided you with the insight you need to make your decision.
Thursday, May 28th, 2009 | Random Stuff | 4 Comments
Remember a few weeks ago, I discussed Murphy the Swissy and the diagnosis of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)? Well, in addition to taking digestive enzymes, Murphy’s diet was altered to help deal with it.
Dana Montero, the canine nutritionist also known as the Dog Food Guru, assisted Murphy’s human in coming up with the correct diet to help treat Murphy along with the enzymes. Dana is our guest poster today, and has shared some of her nutritional knowledge in relation to EPI.
“Generally speaking, dogs with EPI respond best to raw diets due to the abundance of live enzymes in the food and the quick digestion period. However, EPI dogs CAN do well on a commercial diet provided that a few conditions are met.
Preferably when treating a dog with EPI using commercial diets, a grain free diet is recommended, since grain is difficult for these dogs to digest properly. Food should be split into 2-3 smaller meals rather than one large one, as it is easier on the digestive tract to handle small, frequent meals. Raw porcine or bovine pancreas is the best source for pancreatic enzymes, but most people use powdered enzymes, as they are the easiest to obtain in most areas.
If you are using the powdered enzymes, it needs to be room temperature. Make sure the food is room temperature too. Cold makes the enzymes inactive and heat destroys it. Some people prefer to crush the kibble to allow the enzymes to completely cover the food and this may not be a bad idea, but go by what works with YOUR dog. Enzymes should soak on the food for at least 20 minutes. Many vets and publications state that it is not necessary to let the enzymes sit on the food, but unfortunately, some dogs develop mouth sores or mouth bleeds from the enzymes unless the food is allowed to sit and soften.
Treats should be grain-free and low fat. Things like dried liver, dehydrated chicken, boiled, cubed chicken breast, and other grain free treats can be used, but should be limited.
As time goes on, gradually reduce the enzymes used, gradually try to lessen the amount of time the food has to soften, but go very slow – if your dog has a flare up or setback, it’s easy to go back to the last levels that worked for YOUR dog. Remember each dog is an individual and what works for one dog might not work for another.”
Dana has worked with many breeds, but has helped a fair number of Swissies and their people. She does EPI diet consultations on a case by case basis, because each dog needs to be followed closely. You can reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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