With the memory of the melamine pet food scare still fresh in the minds of many pet owners, a group is publicizing a new threat: potentially toxic doses of fluoride in dog food.
An Environmental Working Group analysis found concerning levels of fluoride in 8 of 10 dog foods tested. The concentration of fluoride was up to 2.5 times higher than the safe level the Environmental Protection Agency sets for drinking water (there is no standard for pet food). Together with drinking water from the tap that has been fluoridated, some puppies may be exposed at five-times the safe limit, according to Environmental Working Group -- though it must be said that the safe limits were not designed specifically for dogs.
Fluoride is a controversial substance when it comes to human health. Every major national health organization -- including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Dental Association -- endorse the addition of fluoride to drinking water to counteract tooth decay. But there's a strong undercurrent of dissent: Some claim that fluoridation does little to help tooth health (owing to the method and timing of exposure) or worse, that it may contribute to a rare form of bone cancer found in young boys.
Does it have positive or negative effects on dogs -- and what is the appropriate level of exposure for pets? Those are questions without clear answers.
According to the Environmental Working Group, the fluoride in dog foods originates in bone meal and animal by-products. EWG recommends choosing dog food brands free of bone meal and meat by product ingredients like chicken by-product meal, poultry by-product meal, chicken meal and beef meal. As EWG puts it: "Any ingredient described as 'animal meal' is basically ground bones, cooked with steam, dried, and mashed to make a cheap dog food filler."
For tips on what good ingredients to look for, and how to read a dog food label, see these tips at dogfoodproject.com.
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