Fish, Fish Meal and Ethoxyquin – Danger, Do you Really Want This in Your Dog and Cat Food?

In this article:
  1. Fish in Pet Food and The Greed of The Pet Food Industry
  2. Fish in Pet Food and Ethoxyquin

Fish in Pet Food and The Greed of The Pet Food Industry

Fish-based dog kibble has become a very in-demand consumer item on pet store shelves. But is it really good for your dog – the answer is NO, and here is why…

It is very important to understand that when provided in the right quantity - fatty fish (i.e. herring, mackerel, menhaden, salmon, sardines, sprat), are an excellent source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids

If fish represents a large portion of a dog’s daily diet (or if fed fish exclusively) fish becomes a very dangerous food stuff. Large amounts can result in a thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency, leading to:
  • Appetite loss;
  • Weight loss;
  • Seizures, and in severe cases;
  • Death.
On a daily basis, my dogs each get a small piece of fatty fish; however this fish represents only a small percentage of their daily food intake.

So, in light of the fact that too much fish can be damaging to a dog’s health...

Why are pet food manufacturers producing lines of dog kibble that feature primarily fish?  To make money from waste that would otherwise be thrown away...

  • They use the by-product of fish processed for human consumption - which they would otherwise have to throw away - and instead make money on this waste product;
    • Fishery waste is i.e. fin, tail, head, scales, sludge) which cannot be used in human-grade products;
  • They use whole fish that cannot be used to produce human-grade food – i.e. the fish was dead, diseased or dying when harvested.
  • They can use fish meal, an inexpensive source of protein;
    • Fish meal is made from fish harvested for that specific purpose – i.e. herring, menhaden, pollack, etc.
 And They Make It Sound Like You are Getting Great Value For your Money...
But What They Are Really Doing is...
  • Conning you into thinking the product is great for your dog by leveraging the ‘hot’ words Omega Fatty Acids;
  • Taking advantage of the growing number of dogs that are acquiring food sensitivities to more typical protein sources (like beef and chicken) which are full of toxins (growth hormones, antibiotics). Also unless the label on the food says otherwise is from dead, diseased, dying or disabled (4D) animals. 
In other words – the pet food industry is not introducing fish into your dog’s diet for your dog’s health but instead to make a tidy profit regardless of the health cost to your dog.

The irresponsibility does not stop there…

Having advised many client’s about truly nutritional and safe diets for their dog’s I have had a lot of opportunity to hear the expectations of those loving humans who try to provide the best for their dogs. I have heard so many say ‘but the pet store staff told us this was a good product’ or ‘the label says Omega Fatty Acids, and this is an expensive-to-purchase kibble so we thought it really did meet nutritional requirements for our dog’s daily intake of Omega Fatty Acids’. I then walk them through the ‘rip-off’. Most consumers have absolutely no idea what is the correct ratio of Omega 3:6. They also do not know the serious impact on their dog’s health of an non-balanced intake. The manufacturers know that the typical consumer is not well-informed regarding this issue – and take advantage they do – big time.

Despite the fact that manufacturers are leveraging the idea of great health via the provision of Omega Fatty Acids, I have not seen one dog food – including fish-based kibbles, that provide a proper balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 Fatty Acids. The ratio should be in the range of 2:1 for Omega-3 to Omega-6. Meaning for every 1 part of Omega 6 there should be 2 parts Omega 3.

Commercially made dog food is - in every product I have looked at to date, in direct opposition to this essential balance. If you look at a dog food kibble label you will find copious amounts of Omega 6 and in comparison an infinitesimal amount of Omega 3. An out-of-balance ratio can disrupt the balance of pro and anti-inflammatory agents in the body resulting in chronic inflammation and elevation of the risk of health issues such as allergies, arthritis, diabetes and more – to understand more about the benefits and risks read more here.

2. Fish in Pet Food and Ethoxyquin

So what does this have to do with fish? 

Well almost all fish meal used in dog and cat food contains Ethoxyquin. Ethoxyquin is used as a preservative in pet foods to prevent the (further) rancidification of fats. It should be noted that much of the meat and fat used in pet food is rancid prior to being processed into the kibble as the ingredients used may be waste that cannot be used in human grade food processing).

But you will NOT see it (Ethoxyquin) listed on the ingredients. And here is why…

Ethoxyquin is an anti-oxidant used as a food preservative and a pesticide (called ‘Stop-Scald’). It is listed and identified as a hazardous chemical by OHSA. It has a rating of 3 on a scale of 1 to 6; with 6 indicating super-toxicity and requiring less than 7 drops to cause death. The containers that Ethoxyquin is stored and shipped in are marked with the word/symbol ‘POISON’. The US Department of Agriculture lists and controls Ethoxyquin as a pesticide.

The FDA has mandated that Ethoxyquin is no longer legal for use in human food – with the exception of some spices. The use of Ethoxyquin remains legal for use in animal grade food.

Ethoxyquin Is a Known Carcinogen
Ethoxyquin causes:
  • Cancer of the kidneys;
  • Significantly increases the chance of stomach tumours, and;
  • Bladder cancer, it has also been shown to cause;
  • Allergic reactions;
  • Behaviour problems;
  • Deformity in puppies;
  • Infertility;
  • Organ failure;
  • Skin problems.
Sixteen plus years ago, on August 14, 1997 the FDA issued a statement (you can read it here) in which the FDA reveals that on July 31, 1997 the FDA advised manufacturers and trade associations for the pet food industry regarding serious issues over the assumed ‘safe’ dosage of Ethoxyquin as related back to the FDA’s ‘voluntary’ request to pet food manufacturers to lower the level of this very toxic chemical in the making of dog food.

A year and a half ago, on May 25, 2012 the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) issued another notice – this one to remind the industry about the labelling and use requirements for Ethoxyquin. You can read it here.

Suffice it to say that Ethoxyquin is a seriously dangerous substance – banned from human consumption due to its grave and lethal dangers. It should be banned from dog and cat (as well as other animal) food, but to date it has not been. 


Well it is not because it does not pose a very serious threat to non-human animal health but instead due to lobbying. And believe me the company that makes Ethoxyquin is no stranger to the practice of lobbying…

Monsanto the company responsible for lies and conceits, for damaging the environment and the food chain -  with their (Monsanto’s) bevy of toxic pesticides and herbicides – with their round-up ready Genetically Modified seeds, knows how to keep their products from being banned…no matter what the cost to human and non human animals, and the environment. Monsanto are after all the masters of greed for profit, regardless of the cost to the health of living beings and ultimately the planet.
Unless the manufacturer clearly states that the product is ethoxyquin free, your dog is likely consuming ethoxyquin, a carcinogen.

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Article and graphics by Karen Rosenfeld.

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