Ethoxyquin Free Dog Food

Ethoxyquin has been implicated as a problem additive in dog food for the past two decades. Although the link has not yet been conclusively proven, some dog owners have blamed ethoxyquin for a variety of health problems in their pets.

How Ethoxyquin Works in Dog Food

Ethoxyquin is an antioxidant. It was developed in the 1950s as a preservative to control the breakdown of fats in dry pet food or the formation of peroxide in canned pet foods. It's designed to keep food tasting fresh, to preserve the nutritional value of fats and fat-soluble vitamins in dry food, and to prevent the fats in the food from turning rancid.

Possible Side Effects of Ethoxyquin

In the 1990s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began receiving complaints from dog owners that alleged a link between ethoxyquin and the following health problems:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Behavior problems
  • Cancer
  • Deformed puppies
  • Infertility
  • Organ failure
  • Skin problems

Followup testing found that certain liver enzymes increased in nursing mothers that ate diets containing ethoxyquin. When the dogs stopped nursing their puppies, their food intake dropped, and their liver enzyme levels returned to normal. No other link between canine health problems and ethoxyquin has been established.

Determining the amount of ethoxyquin in a dog food can be somewhat problematic, because it may be added to other ingredients before they are put into a pet food. If a manufacturer adds ethoxyquin directly, it should list it on the ingredient label of the final food, but if it has been added to an ingredient before it arrives at the manufacturer's plant, it may or may not be listed on the label of the finished food.

Lower Ethoxyquin Levels Requested

In response to the concerns, the Center for Veterinary Medicine, which is part of the FDA, requested that pet food manufacturers decrease the levels of ethoxyquin in their foods from 150 parts per million (ppm) to 75 ppm. Some manufacturers dropped ethoxyquin levels in their products, while others found other less controversial preservatives for their foods.

Among these new preservatives were ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and tocepherols (vitamin E). These natural preservatives work well under short-term conditions, but any foods that use natural preservatives should be used within three to six months, or by the product freshness date found on the label. Store the open bag of food inside another container after opening, and keep the food in a dry, cool place in your home to further help keep it fresh.

Ethoxyquin-Free Dog Food Brands

Some of the major pet food manufacturers, including Hill's, Iams and Purina, continue to list ethoxyquin as an ingredient in some of their products, while other products made by these companies do not contain ethoxyquin. Still other companies have chosen to preserve all the foods in their product lines using other ingredients.

If you're looking for an ethoxyquin-free brand of food, your best option may be to purchase dog food labeled as organic. By definition, organic foods cannot contain artificial preservatives, colors or flavors.

Here is a list of dog food brands that do not contain ethoxyquin:

  • Blue Buffalo
  • By Nature Organics
  • Flint River Ranch
  • Fromm
  • Innova/Evo
  • Humane Choice
  • Natural Balance
  • Natural Ultramix
  • Newman's Own
  • Nutro
  • Organix
  • Orijen
  • Solid Gold
  • Wellness