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Additives test tube imageWhy do we need artificial additives in pet foods?
The honest answer is there are no nutritional reasons for your pet to consume artificial additives.

There are better natural ingredients that can be used in pet foods but these tend to be more expensive than artificial additives.

Artificial additives have several uses in pet foods:

          - Artificial colourings
          - Artificial flavourings
          - Artificial antioxidants

Artificial Colourings
Artificial colourings are used to make the food more attractive to the pet owner and not the pet. Think about this if you feed a kibble of many different colours. Does your dog care what colour the kibble is, so why are artificial colourings added?  This is for your benefit only, not your dog's...

Artificial Flavourings (taste!)
Artificial flavourings are used to improve the palatibility of pet foods. However, this shouldn't be necessary in a high quality dog food. What digusting flavours are they attempting to mask? Both artificial colourings and flavourings have been associated with causing hyperactivity.

Artificial Preservatives and Antioxidants
Pet foods require antioxidants to give them the shelf life that we require. This is because as soon as fats come into contact with air they begin to oxidise and become rancid. To prevent this,manufacturers have the choice of using either synthetic antioxidants or natural methods.

Synthetic antioxidants are often listed as "EC permitted antioxidants".

What are EC permitted antioxidants?
Sounds harmless enough but what are EC permitted antioxidants? This covers a large range of chemicals, the three synthetic antioxidants commonly used by pet food manufacturers are:

  • E320 - BHA - Butylatedhydroyanilose
  • E321 - BHT - Butylatedhydroyutoluen
  • E324 - Ethoxyquin

These are extremely effective at their job, however they are associated with several health problems (including cancer) when fed in quantity. No surprise to learn that this is one of the cheaper methods of preserving pet foods! There is a wealth of information on the internet on the possible problems caused by the use of these chemicals, including causing cancer in dogs. As this information is quite often contradictory it's hard to determine the truth. However, whilst the jury is out, there are healthier natural choices already available.

The healthiest option is to preserve the food naturally with tocopherals which are a blend of vitamins "E" & "C". These are commonly made from vegetable oil. This is quite often used in conjunction with rosemary which is a natural antioxidant.

Tip: Choose pet foods preserved with natural antioxidants such as mixed tocopherals and rosemary

Avoid: pet foods preserved with synthetic antioxidants such as  "EC Permitted antioxidants", BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin.