Ethoxyquin: is it still in fish meal in pet food?


Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Ethoxyquin is still a preservative in pet food. However, many people consider it too toxic to be in pet food. It is banned in Europe and Australia. It is not banned in America. Despite representations to the FDA by many experienced, sensible and intelligent people they have refused to ban it citing anecdotal evidence that it causes ‘degenerative diseases’ but no hard scientific link. The FDA relied on the manufacturers for the hard science (er…soft, biased science, sorry).

I am confused about ethoxyquin. It is very hard, through internet research, to check on ingredients in cat and dog food. This preservative is still used in the USA and perhaps in other countries. One reason is because its presence is ‘under the radar’. This is because producers of fish meal use it to preserve this pet food ingredient which is supplied to pet food manufacturers. As such there is no mention of it on the label. This is legal.

In 1990, Gloria Dodd DVM a retired vet with excellent knowledge of cat food, wrote to the FDA complaining about ethoxyquin. She refers to a ‘an epidemic of chronic degenerative diseases’ from the 1970s to the date she wrote her letter. She blamed modern pet food with toxic additives including ethoxyquin. By ‘degenerative diseases’ she means diseases which shorten a pet’s lifespan such as ‘allergies, congestive heart failure, arthritis, dermatitis, kidney failure, liver pathologies, diabetes, AIDS, tumors and cancer’. She was shocked by the shortened lifespans of American dogs.

“I remember, as a kid growing up in Nevada seeing Basque sheepherders with working dogs living to be 20-25 years of age…..Today, we are lucky to find dogs living to be 10 years old, and many of these suffering from various forms of chronic degenerative disease…”

In her letter she goes to discuss ethoxyquin, which gives pet food a lifespan of 25 years! Ironically, this is twice the lifespan of many dogs who have eaten it.

I am concerned about these hidden toxins which cause our cats and dogs to become ill. These toxins are everywhere in the house, not only in pet food – two examples: carpet chemical and fire resistant sofas.

How does one deal with ethoxyquin? If it is not listed on the label, how do we know if it is in the food? We don’t unless we do focused research online. However, it seems that it is listed as an ingredient, sometimes. For example, Hill’s, Iams and Purina, continue to list ethoxyquin as an ingredient in some of their products (do they still do this?). Do we avoid these products? Do you? It’s a bit strange that Hill’s prescription diet food contains a poison.

And many manufacturers have substituted these sorts of preservatives for ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and tocepherols (vitamin E). kindly provides a list if foods which don’t 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

The problem appears to mainly affect dog food. Is the list above complete? Are there others? I am still confused and it ain’t old age 😉 There is a need for greater transparency in pet food labelling and a more ethical approach to ingredients.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

1 thought on “Ethoxyquin: is it still in fish meal in pet food?”

  1. Sandra Murphey, No. CA, USA

    Thank you for this information! I’ve passed it on to my local BB.

    You mention that “It is very hard, through internet research, to check on ingredients in cat and dog food.”
    It’s not that hard if you have the website address for the “pet food ingredient analysis” by Dr. Lisa Newman.

    This is my recommendation, and I do this every time I want to try to a new food.

    f you want to inform yourself about your pet food, find the ingredient label online, enlarge it, and print it out if possible, then go to the alphabetized “Ingredient Analysis” on PetFoodRatings.o/nutrition/analysis-of-dr-lisa-newman, and discover what may be a “difficult truth” about what you’re feeding your beloved pets.

    As for ingredients in so called “prescription food” from Hills and Royal Canin, it doesn’t surprise me. I’ve found the ingredients in “prescription pet food” to be among the worst and cheapest.

    If you’re paying top dollar for bottom dollar ingredients, you might want to investigate for yourself with the “Ingredient Analysis”. After you do this, let me know if you still think this is good for your pet’s health. Remember the first 5 ingredients are the most critical. If a “good” ingredient is listed toward the end, you can be sure there’s not much of it. You’re paying most for the first 5, including GMOs. Imagine paying MORE to feed your pet GMOs!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important
Scroll to Top