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Potent Preservatives: Ethoxyquin in Dog Food

Ethoxyquin is an artificial preservative found in most manufactured American commercial dog food. Here's what pet parents need to know about the controversy.

What is ethoxyquin? Ethoxyquin is an artificial preservative found in most manufactured American commercial dog food. While Australia and Europe do not allow ethoxyquin in dog food, it is an approved additive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in animal feed.

The use of ethoxyquin in dog and cat food by pet food manufacturers in the U.S. remains controversial. It is not approved for human consumption (with the exception of paprika and chili powder). Read on for everything pet owners need to know about the potential dangers of this synthetic preservative.

What Is Ethoxyquin Used For?

Today, ethoxyquin is used in pet food as a synthetic antioxidant to prevent rancidity in fats and preserve fat-soluble vitamins. It is most commonly used in pet food that contains fish meal. It was initially registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a pesticide in 1965 by Monsanto.

According to the EPA’s toxicity documentation, large amounts of ethoxyquin can cause health problems to the liver and result in elevated liver enzymes in the blood. The document reads: “The primary target organs affected by ethoxyquin in experimental animals are the liver and the kidneys.”

Why Did the EU and Australia Ban Ethoxyquin?

The EU and Australian government banned the use of ethoxyquin as a preservative food ingredient following an inconclusive study on the safety of its use in animal feed. As there was not enough data to support or debunk the chemical’s lack of toxicity, they took a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach.

What a Veterinary Toxicologist Has to Say About Ethoxyquin in Dog Food

Dr. John Tegzes, VMD, DABVT, a board-certified veterinary toxicologist with the American Board of Veterinary Toxicology from Western University of Health Sciences, weighs in:

Preservatives and Food Safety

Commercial pet food companies lean on artificial preservatives like butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA), butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), and ethoxyquin because they are cheap and improve the shelf life of kibble.

The pet food industry is constantly evolving, and dog owners are increasingly choosing quality over quantity when it comes to nutrition. They know there’s no need for unnecessary chemicals in their pet’s food, especially when companies could be using safer, natural preservatives like vitamin E instead.

At JustFoodForDogs, if an ingredient isn’t allowed in human food, it’s certainly not allowed in our pet’s food. Fresh dog food has no food additives, is ethoxyquin-free, and is preservative-free. We believe in full transparency, which is why every ingredient is on our pet food labels and website. Lists of ingredients and DIY recipes are freely available on our website so pet parents can make high-quality dog food at home.