Preservatives in Dog Food: What to Stay Away From

Preservatives in Dog Food: What to Stay Away From

Preservatives are important. Without them, your dog’s big bag of food would go bad before he could eat it all. For the same reason, human food has preservatives as well. Preservatives changed the way we all were able to live and eat, for the better.

However, not all preservatives are created equal. There are some that may keep their food from spoiling but may also harm your dog. There are two type of preservatives that may be in your dog’s food – natural and artificial.

ARTIFICIAL PRESERVATIVES

Common artificial preservatives in dry dog foods are:

· Ethoxyquin

· Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)

· Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

· Tert-butyl hydroquinone (TBHQ)

· Propyl gallate

They are very effective at keeping the fat in your dog’s food from going rancid. However, studies have suggested that ingesting these, especially ethoxquin, can cause health problems for your dog. Why? Because ethoxquin is also used as a pesticide and a hardening agent for synthetic rubber. It is currently under investigation in the United States for potentially causing liver and blood problems. Because of this, it is not permitted for use here in Australia or the European Union! So take care if you import any food or treats.

Does your dog eat a fish-based dog food? Where is that fish coming from? If that fish is not from here in Australia, it may contain ethoxquin before it even hits our shores and the pet food manufacturer may not even be aware. So while it won’t be on the label, your dog will still be eating it. That’s why here at Stay Loyal, we use Australian-sourced ingredients so you don’t have to even think about things like this.

BHA and BHT have been named “suspicious cancer-causing compounds” by the World Health Organization.

Pet food companies like to use these because they make their product last longer and they are less expensive than natural preservatives.

NATURAL PRESERVATIVES

While it’s true that natural preservatives do not keep food as fresh as long. As long as you aren’t buying a 20kg bag of food for one Yorkshire Terrier, and you store it properly, it will last just fine. And the benefits far outweigh this. Natural preservatives are not only safe, but they can actually benefit your dog.

Common natural preservatives are:

· Vitamin E

· Vitamin C

· Rosemary

· Citric acid

The first thing you probably notice is these are words you know and understand. Second, you may notice that 3 of them (vitamin C, rosemary, citric acid) come from sources that are full of antioxidants such as blueberries, apples, citric fruits and the rosemary plant. Vitamin E is sourced most often from mixed tocopherols. This is a word you may not be familiar with. And that might scare you, but it shouldn’t!

Tocopherols are a form of vitamin E derived from vegetable oils such as sunflower, as well as egg yolks, leafy vegetables and wheat germ oil, to name a few.

In humans, tocopherols make up 96% percent of our skin’s natural antioxidant defense system. So you see, they are a “superhero” in the antioxidant category and do all kinds of wonderful things, including:

· Stabilize cell membranes

· Prevent UV-induced free radicals to damage skin

· Anti-inflammatory agent

· Helps moisturize the skin

· Regulates digestion

· Helps prevent cataracts

· Immune system health

· Delays aging

· Supports cardiovascular and respiratory health.

Could this list get any better? Some studies suggest it may prevent scarring!

So, check your dog’s food and treat labels and make sure they are using natural, not artificial, preservatives.

If you take a look at the Stay Loyal ingredient page, you will see we only use natural preservatives in our food, because it’s better for your dog. We want to keep that tail wagging for as long as possible and we know you do too.

What Happens to Dog Paws on Hot Days?

What Happens to Dog Paws on Hot Days?

We wear shoes when we go outside to protect our tender skin from sharp rocks, debris and rough surfaces. We mostly take for granted that animals’ paws are made to endure the natural world around us, and do not give it a second thought when we step outside to take them for a walk.

BUT – IS YOUR DOG REALLY WALKING IN A NATURAL ENVIRONMENT? Probably not. Most likely he is walking on a man-made surface such as asphalt, pavement or concrete. And when it’s hot, those surfaces can become blistering hot, literally.

These surfaces can be so hot, even on a day you find pleasant, that your dog’s paws can burn and blister, causing a very painful injury that takes a while to heal and is difficult to treat.

Just How Hot Is Too Hot?

Here are some numbers that may shock you:

When it’s just 25 degrees outside, asphalt and tarmac can reach 52 degrees.

At 31 degrees, that surface heats up to 62 degrees!

How hot is that? You can fry an egg in five minutes at 55 degrees. And skin suffers burns in just one minute at 52 degrees.

Frostburg State University in Maryland, USA, did a test on common surfaces that we expect our dogs to walk on, including grass, track, asphalt, fake grass (astroturf), brick and concrete. The results are in the graph below, provided by Frostburg State University. Not surprising, the natural grass is the coolest. Most surprising, however, is that fake grass is actually the hottest – something to think about if you thought you were saving your dogs paws by putting him on astroturf.

Surface heat graph credit frostburg State Univeristy

How to Tell if the Surface Is Too Hot for Your Dog?

The easiest way for most people to tell is to try the five-second rule. Put your hand on the surface. If you can’t leave your hand on the surface, comfortably, for five seconds, it’s too hot for your dog. Also pay attention to the temperature outside and remember the numbers we gave above. Walking in the early morning or the evening, if the pavement has cooled enough, can help. When in doubt, take precautions such as finding some grass to walk in, or paw protectors like booties.

HEAT IS NOT THE ONLY CAUSE OF DAMAGED PAWS

Even when the weather is fine and the ground is cool, other things can damage your dog’s paws. Anyone who competes with their dog in agility or herding, for example, knows that dogs running at high speeds on rough ground can easily get tears or rips. Agility equipment is made with grippy surfaces, usually paint mixed with sand, that can definitely cause damage to tender paws. Newbies to the sport should try and limit their dogs speed and sudden stops on the equipment until their paws have had time to toughen up.

Those that are running on strange turf, like bark chips in a herding pen, also need to be careful for the same reasons. While our dogs’ pads are tougher than our own feet, they are not indestructible and just like us, they need time to get used to the new surfaces and build up calluses that protect against injuries.

If your dog is a mostly indoor dog that has a nice soft grassy backyard, his pads are probably pretty soft. Even just taking a dog that is used to being on grass to the beach (remember, sand is rough!) or for a walk or run on rough pavement can get scraps or even tears.

If your dog does get a pad injury, you will probably end up at the veterinary office. The injured paw(s) will need to be thoroughly cleaned to prevent infection and then you will either have to keep them wrapped or put booties on to allow the pads time to heal. It’s no fun to try and keep a dog pad clean and wrapped while on the mend, so the best thing do is try and prevent and injury from occurring by checking the temperature, and giving you dog’s pads time to toughen up when introducing them to a new surface.

Human Snacks Your Dog Shouldn’t Eat

Human Snacks Your Dog Shouldn’t Eat

I talk a lot on the Stay Loyal blog about all the good things you can give your dog that will help boost her health and maybe even keep her around for a few extra years. But there is another side to that coin – the things that your best friend shouldn’t be eating to keep them healthy and happy. While we humans often like to express our love through food, there are treats that – while tasty – are best left to humans. Here is a list of common foods that you should avoid feeding to your dog.

Sugary Snacks

This is a wide, broad category that includes many different types of treats. Cake, donuts, fruit candies, chocolate, ice cream – to name a few. If it’s got a lot of sugar, don’t feed it to your dog. Their system has a hard time processing sugar and therefore they can go into insulin shock much easier than humans.

Snacks with Artificial Sweeteners

Since we said no sugar, you may think it’s okay to give him a drink of that diet soda or cake made with an artificial sweetener such as Xylitol. However artificial sweeteners are not good for dogs either. Aspartame can cause stomach upset in dogs, though it’s not lethal. Xylitol is lethal. It causes your dog’s blood sugar to drop, seizures and death. Those that do survive often have irreversible liver damage. Just 100 mg/kg of Xylitol can affect your dog; a couple pieces of gum can kill a small dog.

Beware! Peanut butter, a treat many of us give our dogs, can contain Xylitol.

Snacks High in Fat or Salt

Peanut butter brings us to fatty snacks. It’s best to not feed your dog things that are high in fat. He already gets the amount of fat he needs in his daily diet, so anything extra can add pounds and affect his health. Especially a small dog. Steer clear of fatty foods and if you need to use peanut butter for medication, for example, do so sparingly. Mixing with water to dilute it is a great way to get the peanut taste dogs love, without tons of extra calories and fats. Aside from peanut butter, other fatty treats would include butter, bacon, cheese, etc.

Alcohol

While it might sound fun to let your dog share your beer with you while you watch sports, alcohol causes damage to the liver, kidneys and nervous system. Just like humans, dogs can get alcohol toxicity and since many dogs are much smaller than us, it doesn’t take much. And don’t forget that alcohol is found in things other than beverages. Dogs have even been known to get sick eating too much fermented foods, due the alcohol content. Be sure your dog can’t get into your mouthwash, rubbing alcohol or other cleaners either.

Foods and Drinks with Caffeine

Like alcohol, caffeine is another substance that is can cause harm quickly to a dog because of their size. The symptoms of caffeine overdose in dogs is varied, but can include:

· Restlessness

· Vomiting

· Abnormal heart beat

· Elevated body temperature

· Tremors

· Seizures

· Fainting

· Death

As you can see, it has some bad affects. It’s best to just steer clear of caffeine.

Onions

This one may surprise you, since onions are safe for us, but they pose a real threat to your dog. Onions cause hemolytic anemia, where the hemoglobin in the red blood cells are oxidized and form clumps. They can even burst. This can happen with onion in any form – powdered, fried, cooked in soups or raw. 32 grams can make a 9kg dog sick.

Nuts

You may assume that since your dog can eat peanut butter, all nuts are safe. These are not often see on dogs “do not eat” lists, but they should be. These can definitely cause issues to your dog. Each nut affects dogs in slightly different ways.

· Macadamia nuts can cause pancreatitis and upset stomach. They also contain a mycotoxin related to neurological problems.

· Walnuts can cause obstruction or intestinal upset. They also contain a mycotoxin related to neurological problems.

· Pecans can cause obstruction or intestinal upset. Mouldy pecans can cause seizures or neurological issues.

· Pistachios can cause pancreatitis and upset stomach.

· Almonds are not easily digestible by dogs and can cause stomach and intestinal upset.

In additions, nuts are very high in fat, which also makes them not the best choice as a treat for your dog.

The main thing is to be sure you always read the ingredients of anything you are giving your dog that is not a one-ingredient item. For example you know what’s in a carrot, but you might not know what’s in a carrot and beef stew you think is safe. When in doubt, it’s better for your dog to stick to his food and one-ingredient treats such as carrots and meaty bones. If you are unsure something is safe, like a vegetable that you think would be nutritious for your dog, ask your vet before feeding. A quick call to the vet’s office might save your dog’s life.