What’s In That Can Of Dog Food?

Recent history has shown that all pet owners need to be vigilant when it comes to the food that we feed our pets. We have found it necessary to doggy-1-772191-mbecome  experts at reading labels and knowing what is safe for our pets. Today I want to talk about Carrageenan which is a common additive in pet foods. It has been estimated to be found in over 40% of wet or canned pet foods. Even though The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) considers it to be a safe additive, research suggests this may not be the case and it can possibly harm your pet. So why is it in so many pet foods?

What Are Carrageenans

Carrageenans are carbohydrate structures that are extracted from red seaweed.  They are widely used due to their stabilizing proper13917076272mzdxties and the ability to gel and thicken. They adhere to proteins such as meat as dairy.   Carrageenan comes in 2 forms,  degraded and undegraded. Undegraded is approved for use in food and is considered “Generally Recognized as Safe”, while degraded is not. What is significant to note is that, due to the thickening ability, it is also found in non-pet items such as ice cream, diet soda, beer, pates, infant formula, milk and milk products and shampoo.  There is no nutritional value in Carrageenan and it is not digestible.

What Research Has Uncovered

The degraded version of Carrageenan is also called poligeenan and in high concentrations, has been shown to cause cancer. The undegraded version has only been shown to accelerate the formation of cancer when administered with a known carcinogen. While the distinction between what is possible in the two types is unclear, it does allow for the undegraded version to be considered a safe additive.

Of additional concern is digestive issues. It has been determined that an immune response is triggered when ingesting carrageenan, one that is similar to the when the body is exposed to the bacteria found in Salmonella.



Findings  by veteran carrageenan researcher Joanne Tobacman, MD include:

“research has shown that exposure causes inflammation and that when we consume processed foods containing it, we ingest enough to cause inflammation in our bodies. She explained that all forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation. This is bad news. We know that chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer.

And she reported further that when laboratory mice are exposed to low concentrations of carrageenan for 18 days, they develop “profound” glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action, both of which can lead to diabetes.

In The End…

Carrageenan may not be as bad as some sources portray, but there is evidence that it can be harmful, especially if consumed regularly. Considering that it has no nutritional benefit, that is can  possibility  cause stomach upset and the cancer connection, carrageenan is not a recommended ingredient for pets or people. Again it is necessary to ask if it can harm my pet, why is it added to their food?

16 comments on “Stop Harming Your Pet – The Truth About Canned Pet Food

  • Hi there,

    Wow, I am totally shocked by all of this, but I’m unfortunately not surprised. There’s so much added to human food that we don’t know is harmful to us, and I know that it’s far worse for pet food.

    Right now I’m living on a farm with my extended family, and we don’t feed any of our 4 dogs or 6 cats any pet food, they thrive on lots of table scraps and other things and are far healthier looking than any pet food fed animal.

    I hope that people read this, because it definitely is food for thought – pun intended – especially since all these non-food products are barely ever labelled properly.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write this informative article.

    All the best,


    • Hi Katia,

      Thanks for your comments and I agree so much of what we and our pets consume is this huge mystery. It makes you question just how we have gotten to this point and what can be done to change things. What will it take for safety to be top priority again?

      Take Care,


  • As a dog owner this is an awesome post that has helped me steer away from another bad brand of dog food, I never new that Carrageenan was a bad dog food brand, and now I know that when I am in stores to avoid this. You are spot on, inflammation is the main cause of most all diseases, if we reduce inflammation when can eliminate many if all ailments, even in dogs! Great article!

    • Hi Chris,

      Thanks for the visit and your comments. We have to educate ourselves when it comes to caring for our pets. We need to look beyond the marketing gimmicks and question whether or not our pets will benefit or possibly be harmed by what we feed them.

      Take Care,


  • Wow, I knew canned food is not good for anyone, but I didn’t know that it’s so bad. You forget that canned food is good for pets as much as it’s not for people. What do you recommend for pets to eat? I assume some good brand? I’m asking for a dog specifically.

  • What a good post with some very important information. It is incredible at some of the additives that goes into pet food – I switched my cats to human grade meat a long time ago, though currently most of their food is imported from Canada, Germany or Sweden as I found the quality from these countries much better. I also dont wish my cats to eat any food that contains horse products as I am against the horse slaughter trade for pet food. So few people know what goes into their pet food though as labelling is not always as good as on human food.

    Thanks for the informative post

    • Hi Evie,

      Thanks for your great comments and your cats are very lucky to have you looking out for the their safety! It is sad but true that we all must be be vigilant in reading the labels of our pet food. We need to keep in mind that the producers of pet food are in the business to make money and that the safety of our pets is not their number one concern. Only when ingredients cause a documented concern does safety become an issue.

      Take Care,


  • Holy! I have been feeding my cats canned food for the past four years and I never knew that there is such a danger that is threatening their lives every single time I feed them!! The thought simply made me shudder!!

    I’m going to stop feeding them canned food, for Goddess sake. I’ll rather spend half an hour preparing food for them that I know is safe rather than to save up the time for something else, knowing fully that I am putting their lives at risk.

    Sorry, my cats, for my previous ignorance.

    • Hi Rachel,

      I think as consumers, we tend to blindly believe the advertising that we see and can be fooled by packaging and images. Without question, we would trust something that has a picture of a happy, playful cat. I am glad, as are your cats, that you now have the information that you need to provide safe nourishment for your feline friends.

      Take Care,


  • Thank you for the information on carrageenan being in the canned food we give to our pets, Erin. I have a 5-year-old labrador and she is simply adorable. Her name is Elle and she is more considered Human than a dog. Most of the times I give her some of what I’m having for dinner, but sometimes she does have tinned food. I will be watching very carefully from now on at the label of the can.
    Kind regards,

    • Hi Jeff,

      I am so glad that you were able to read my post so you too can be aware of what you feed your precious Elle. Since 2007 when melamine was found in dog food as an additive, pet owners have had to be very vigilant over what they feed them. Thanks for your comments and the care that you give your dog.

      All the best,

  • Hi Erin! This is a great post! Thank you. For years now, we’ve stayed away from canned pet food completely for a couple of reasons: the crap that’s in them, and the cost. We’ve been making our own wet food which we mix with some dry. Sometimes, our dogs get cooked ground beef, other times chicken necks, stripped backs, and gizzards which we pressure cook to break it down. We also add rice to this and voila – a wet food that is cheap and has no additives.

    However, do you recommend a raw diet over what we’re currently doing? Or do you have another great recipe for feeding our pets wholesome food at a great price?
    Thanks so much! Deb

    • Hi Deb, I am so glad that your liked my post and I am very glad that you are concerned about the food that you feed your dogs. I must say that what you are currently doing is better than feeding a straight commercial product. Actually it reminded me of a diet that a dog from my past was on. She was very allergic – cotton and dust – and allergy shots did not help her. My vet recommended that I make my own food with rice and hamburger that provided the blandness from the rice and oil to soothe her skin from the meat. She did much better on this diet! My research has me convinced that a raw diet is the way to go. I am currently developing a new site, bestrawdietfordogs and encourage to come visit here as well!

      Take Care,

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