The hidden toxins in your pet's food

By Dr. Killigan
The hidden toxins in your pet's food

I saw what looked like a local’s bar and slipped inside. Its gold embossed lettering on the large glass frame appeared to be peeling with the wind. As I stepped inside, the door slammed forcefully behind me and the rattle of a bell echoed off of the walls of this small establishment.

I quickly realized that this was no typical bar, if a bar at all. One gentleman with a shot of whiskey resting in his hands and a tattoo on his arm with what looked like rough and unfinished drawings—a sketchwork of trees, vines, foliage, and birds—sat in a sturdy built chair with his feet propped on an ottoman footrest. Another man, downed in a colored smock, raised a pair of stainless steel hair cutting shears in greeting.

It was then that I understood that I was in some type of scotch and scissors joint. I figured that I'd make the most of the opportunity and get a haircut for myself.

While I waited, a drink was poured. As the whiskey slipped across my tongue, a warm burning following, we ensued on a conversation about the barber’s plethora of occupations. Apparently, he was also a dog groomer at a pet store nearby. He was a chatty fellow and embarked on this absorbing monologue about the "forever chemicals" commonly found in pet food and its packaging.

I was enthralled, to say the least. As I sat there, staring out of the window pane at the array of colorful leaves that fell on this fall Connecticut day, I set my mind on writing an article on the toxins that are not only commonly found in pet food and its packaging, but are also frequently tucked away as ingredients on common household bug sprays in one’s home—and the profusion of harm that they can cause to one’s pet and one’s livelihood.

What is bioaccumulation?

Bioaccumulation is the gradual build-up of damaging or harmful chemicals, such as pesticides or other chemicals, in a living thing. These chemicals will not break down in the body (or the environment) and are not able to be excreted, hence their accumulation over time. They can move through soils, contaminating drinking water, and be present in the fish and wildlife that we eat.

In addition, bioaccumulation is responsible for large levels of toxins in our cats and dogs, which contributes to a host of health issues.

What foods can bioaccumulate in and harm my dog instantly?

There are several foods that can be extremely harmful for dogs. These include death cap mushrooms, kidney-failure-causing grapes, and cocoa-rich milk chocolate. Other foods foods—such as avocados, xylitol, jittery caffeine, and alcohol—can also be highly toxic and potentially fatal for dogs.

What you want to be weary of are the toxins that bioaccumulate in your dog and may be present in your pet's food. Beginning in 2007, there was a food recall due to melamine and cyanuric acid contamination in dog food, which reportedly resulted in the deaths of numerous dogs as a result of acute kidney failure. More recently, the pet food industry has diversified both the variety of its products, with different types of ingredients, such as additives to reduce fecal odor and alternative sources of protein and carbohydrate, like vegan or grain-free diets; and its processing methods, such as wet foods, which may include cheaper ingredients of lower quality. All of these changes can result in the introduction of and bioaccumulation of several contaminants, including pesticides, mycotoxins, and toxic metals, in your pet.

What toxins can harm my cat?

The same toxins that can be harmful for your dog can also harm your cat. Toxic metals, such as lead, mercury, aluminum, iron, chrome, and uranium have been found in commercial pet food. In addition, some pet food packaging has been found to be contaminated with PFAS, or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, which is highly toxic for both pets and people alike. The actual food inside of these bags can purportedly be just as toxic. 

What does bioaccumulation in our pets look like?

In recognition of the unique roles that pets play in our lives, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) undertook a study in 2008 to investigate the extent of (dangerous) exposure pets face to toxic compounds and what bioaccumulation in our beloved pets looks like. The EWG checked several bags of pet food. All of them contained PFAS, some at extremely high levels. In addition, the study found that dogs and cats were contaminated with 48 of 70 industrial chemicals tested. It was ascertained that: 

  • "For dogs, blood and urine samples were contaminated with 35 chemicals altogether, including 11 carcinogens, 31 chemicals toxic to the reproductive system, and 24 neurotoxins," reported EWG. "The carcinogens are of particular concern, since dogs have much higher rates of many kinds of cancer than do humans do."
  • "Cat samples contained 46 chemicals altogether, including nine carcinogens, 40 chemicals toxic to the reproductive system, 34 neurotoxins, and 15 chemicals toxic to the endocrine system," added EWG.

What exactly is PFAS?

PFAS are human-made "forever chemicals." They are a class of about 12,000 compounds used to make products resist water, stains, and heat. They’re called "forever chemicals" because they don’t naturally break down, as noted above, causing bioaccumulation in humans and animals alike. PFAS have been found to have consequential health effects and are linked to a range of serious health problems like cancer, birth defects, kidney disease, and liver disease. In pet food, these chemicals may be used to make the foods repel grease. 

Who has been exposed to PFAS?

PFAS is becoming known as an "everywhere chemical." Today, the vast majority of Americans, including newborn babies, have PFAS in their blood, and more than 200 million people may be drinking contaminated PFAS-tainted water. In fact, studies show that human exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a type of PFAS, is widespread and that nearly all people in the United States have PFOA in their blood.

Pocket fact: PFAS chemicals are used to make fluoropolymer coatings. Fluoropolymer coatings can be in a variety of products, including clothing, furniture, adhesives, food packaging, heat-resistant non-stick cooking surfaces, and the insulation of electrical wire.

How can Dr. Killigan’s help?

Dr. Killigan’s believes in keeping your family, which includes your pets, free from all toxins. All of our products, proven and effective, are formulated with 100% non-toxic ingredients that will cause no harm to any member of your family. We create solutions that are natural, safe, and poison-free and are driven to continue raising the bar in non-toxic pest elimination.

Support companies that believe in you and your well-being. Support companies that want to see you and your family thrive. Dump the toxic pet food, toxic cleaners, and toxic pest control products and make the switch to brands that support the welfare of you, your family, and your pets.

We all bring toxicity into our homes through a plethora of avenues, whether it be through our cat’s wet food, our dog’s chicken-flavored treats, or the cleaning products that we purchase at the local grocery store. In fact, the air inside your home is typically two to five times more polluted than outdoor air and research published in the American Thoracic Society’s “American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine” found that cleaning your home once a week can lead to lung damage equivalent to smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

You can drastically reduce this by filling your home with green plants, opening up your windows more frequently, filtering your water, using non-toxic pest control products for your pet, and being mindful of what products you bring into your home. Use solutions that are good for you, your family, and your pets

Non-toxic insect killer spray

For your pets, use Six Feet Under as a natural tick and flea repellent on your dog, massaging it into their fur, and spray it on their beds as often as you would change the sheets on your own bed. Six Feet Under is natural, non-toxic insect killer spray for ants, roaches, flies, mosquitoes, moths, ticks, fleas, earwigs, silverfish, and more. It is free of pyrethrins and other harsh ingredients. 

Note: We do not recommend spraying Six Feet Under directly onto your cat, as this solution contains a small amount of clove oil, which can be harmful to cats.

For household use, use Six Feet Under anytime you see an unwanted creepy crawly cross your home’s threshold. 

Use the Insect Buster to disperse food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) and other non-toxic insect powders around the perimeter of your home and your yard. DE is a naturally occurring white powder made from the fossils of diatoms, (a type of algae found in river beds and lake beds). It has proven to work as a natural pesticide when its sharp edges (on a microscopic level) puncture and drain the exoskeleton of insects from their protective fats and oils, causing them to become dehydrated and die. Keep bugs where you’ve always wanted them to be - outside of the perimeter of your yard and away from you and your pets. 

To prevent a moth infestation, use our Pantry Moth Traps to keep pantry moths at bay and our Clothing Moth Traps to keep your wool garments from being eaten. 

Visit our website for a full list of all of our products and join our email list, as we have several more products in the works.

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  • I will definitely be looking into the current brand of dog and cat food I use. The stats on PFAs are quite shocking to say the least. Great read.

    Mitch Clark on
  • Hello Vanessa, Thank you for your comment on our blog. I am glad this post was able to bring awareness to the possibility of chemicals in your cat’s food. We aim to keep your family members safe, even the four-legged ones. Cheers, Vanessa and the Dr. Killigan’s Team

    Vanessa on
  • Wow! I didn’t know my cat’s food could contain so many harmful chemicals. I need to double-check the brand I buy! I always try to use natural products in my home to reduce the possibility of her getting sick. I am so glad your company provides a non-toxic spray I can use to eliminate bugs without having to worry about my cat!

    V on
  • Hello Marie,

    Thank you for your comment on our blog. We’re glad we were able to provide some insightful information for you.


    Elyse on
  • Very informative. Very well-researched. Thank you Dr. Killigan’s!

    Marie on

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