The presence of aflatoxin in some dog foods can threaten the health of your pet. With that in mind, it is no longer surprising to see manufacturers and agencies finding ways to control the contamination of aflatoxins in dog foods as much as possible. One control measure they are applying is to use only crops guaranteed to resist the toxic substance.
Dog food manufacturers also make sure they make use of sufficient storage conditions by ensuring there is a low level of moisture in the storage area to prevent the growth of molds. Now the question is how can aflatoxin get into dog food? Use the information you’ll gather from this article to get an idea about how this harmful toxin can penetrate dog foods.
What is Aflatoxin?
Aflatoxin refers to a metabolic waste product derived from a certain fungus, called As per gillus flavus. The problem with aflatoxin is that, just like all of my cotoxins, it can trigger diseases and even death in severe cases. It is even known to be a cancer-causing agent. The disease, which usually results from the intake of certain foods that contain the waste product, is called aflatoxicos is. It mainly affects the liver of animals.
Since the disease primarily affects the liver, it is no longer surprising to see it causing gastrointestinal symptoms and reproductive issues. It is also characterized by other symptoms, like jaundice, anemia, loss of appetite, fever, lethargy, bloody diarrhea, severe vomiting, and discolored urine. Also, take note that outbreaks of illnesses related to the substance more commonly affect dogs than cats.
It is mainly because of the corn products present in several commercial dog foods. You must be extra cautious about the foods your dog eats if you own one. If your dog takes in any food with aflatoxin contamination, then you will most likely see him showing the mentioned symptoms.
Even if there are no signs of illness, but you’re sure he has eaten a dog food potentially contaminated with the substance, it is still crucial to talk to your vet or visit a vet clinic right away. During your visit, bring the food you feel is contaminated with aflatoxin. It’s also advisable to consult a holistic vet and ask about the effectiveness of natural liver detox agents, such as milk thistle.
How can Aflatoxin Contaminate Dog Foods?
Aflatoxin often contaminates agricultural crops prior to harvesting them. Usually,it can be triggered by certain conditions that trigger pre-harvest contamination, like insect activity, high temperature, and long drought periods. There is also a great risk for aflatoxin to cause a problem in crops if they stay wet for a long period. You can also expect aflatoxin to develop on stored crops, especially if there is high moisture, causing the development of mold.
Among those plants known for having the highest risk of being contaminated with aflatoxin are corn, cottonseed, and peanuts. There are also other agricultural products frequently contaminated with the substance, like sorghum, maize, rice, wheat cereals, pearl millet, soybean, almonds, coconuts, turmeric, sunflower oil seeds, coriander, and pistachios. Also, take note that processed foods that contain corn are also prone to aflatoxin adulteration.
If the mentioned plants and products are used in making a dog food, then there is a high risk the resulting product will be contaminated with aflatoxin. It is, therefore, important to purchase a dog food that uses none of the plants and foods mentioned above, especially corn.
One way to control aflatoxin contamination is to blend batches of grains contaminated with the substance with those that are not. Such is helpful in reducing the aflatoxin present in the grains. This will also minimize the risk of your dog getting contaminated. However, if your goal is to avoid feeding your dog with any product containing aflatoxin mold, then you might not be too confident with the mentioned procedure.
Most of the animal feed that usually makes use of corn is served to livestock. Some also go to pet foods. If you want to make sure your pet won’t be contaminated with the toxic substance, then consider feeding him a grain-free dog food. Also, make it a point to follow these tips to ensure you can prevent the risk of your dog being contaminated with aflatoxin and suffering from its consequences:
- Be vigilant – One thing you can do as a dog owner is be extra cautious on the foods you are serving your pet. Ensure you purchase grain-free dog foods or those with zero risk of being contaminated with the substance.
- Use a human-grade and high-quality canned dog food – Consider transitioning your pet from dry dog food to the canned dog food variety, which is known for its top-notch quality. Another alternative is to feed him a fresh food and well-balanced diet. Note it is actually possible for you to make foods for your dog with the help of nutritionally balanced recipes.
Another tip is to check out raw pet foods and dehydrated raw foods prepared commercially. You can mix commercially prepared and homemade foods. Doing any of the mentioned tips minimizes the risk of your dog suffering from aflatoxin poisoning.
- Check the list of ingredients thoroughly – Prior to buying any dry dog food, spend time checking the list of ingredients thoroughly. Stay away from brands with corn or grain in them, like corn flour, whole grain corn, and corn gluten meal. Aside from being one of those foods prone to aflatoxin contamination, corn is also known for being allergenic, making it hard for a lot of dogs to digest.
Stay away from formulas that use cereal grains, such as sorghum, maize, wheat, rice, and pearl millet, as there is a great chance they are contaminated with the substance.
Note that aflatoxin is harmful for animals, particularly pets. It is even linked to powerful liver toxins. The result of taking in foods contaminated with the substance varies from one pet to another, though. It will also depend on some factors, like the time your dog has been consuming the food contaminated with it. Still, you mustbe extra careful on what you feed your dog. You also mustremember it is a carcinogenic. It can trigger cancer.
Aflatoxin also has the tendency to suppress your dog’s immune system, making him more prone to dealing with infections or life-threatening diseases. Chronic aflatoxin exposure also triggers the formation of tumor.
Other Foods that are Toxic for Dogs
Aside from corn, grains, and other foods and products contaminated with aflatoxin, there are other foods you should avoid feeding your dog because of their toxic substances. Some foods you should keep your dog away from besides corn are:
- Avocado – The leaves and skin of avocados actually contain pectin, which is harmful for non-human mammals, considering it is an oil-soluble toxin. Dogs who are sensitive to this toxin will most likely experience congestion, fluid buildup around the heart, respiratory distress, and in worst scenarios, death, if they get exposed to it. You can still use avocado as an ingredient for dog foods but remove the leaves and skin.
- Alcohol – Alcohol can also affect the brain and liver of dogs, just as it affects those body organs on people. However, the tolerance of dogs to alcohol is lower compared to most humans. Just a little wine, liquor, beer, or any food containing alcohol is bad for them. It can trigger breathing and coordination problems, vomiting, diarrhea, and in worse cases, coma and death. The effects of alcohol areworse if you own a smaller dog breed.
It is mainly because of the tendency of alcohol to be rapidly absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream, causing it to be affected right away. Aside from the already mentioned effects, the intake of even just a little alcohol might also cause your dog to experience a dangerous drop in blood pressure, body temperature, and blood sugar. Intoxicated dogs might also experience respiratory failure or seizures.
- Grapes – Grapes are also among the most toxic foods for dogs. They produce severe side effects, like kidney failure and death. Even just a few grapes can trigger dangerous and toxic side effects to dog. One sign it has ingested grapes is severe vomiting, which can happen all throughout the day. He will also most likely feel depressed and sluggish within just one day of ingesting the grapes.
- Garlic and Onions – Both actually fall under the allium plant family, making them toxic for dogs. Regardless of what form they are in, dried, cooked, fresh, or in powdered form, you can still expect them to be toxic for dogs. Allium plants are actually harmful for the red blood cells of dogs. These have the tendency to kill their red blood cells, triggering anemia.
In addition, taking them in large amounts can reduce oxygen flow and cause organ damage, breathing problems, vomiting, and weakness.
- Coffee and Tea – Caffeine, which is present in both coffee and tea, is also harmful for dogs. It is a powerful stimulant that causes increased thirst, diarrhea, vomiting, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle twitching, and restlessness in dogs.
If you feel like your dog has ingested coffee, tea, energy drink, or any other food and drink containing caffeine, then note that early treatment can help prevent more serious effects. You have to visit the vet immediately even if your dog shows no symptoms yet.
- Chocolates – Most people know chocolates are harmful for dogs. What’s not so good about chocolate is it contains the obromine. It is present in all forms of chocolate, even the white ones. Theo bromine triggers vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. In worse cases, it can also lead to tremors, seizures, heart issues, and even death. Keep your dog away from chocolate, especially the unsweetened baking chocolate and the dark variety.
- Sugar-free gum – It is not good for dogs, considering it makes use of a sweetener called xylitol, which is life-threatening to dogs. Ingesting xylitol can actually cause hypoglycemia or a dangerously low blood sugar level, which is deadly for some dogs. If you are taking sugar-free gums, then take extreme caution where you store them. Ensure they are out of reach of your dog.
Also, make it a point to check all your sugar-free foods for xylitol. Note it might also be present in sugar-free peanut butter and toothpaste. Any food with xylitol should be taken out of reach of your dog.
Those are just some of the toxic foods for dogs. However, take note that, no matter how cautious you are, there is still a high risk for your dog to find and swallow those foods that are harmful to them. With that in mind, have the contact number of your veterinarian within easy reach. Also, if you feel like your dog ingested a toxic food, then make it a point to call for help immediately.
Learning how aflatoxin can get into dog food can help you identify the foods containing the toxin you should avoid feeding to your dog. Also, be aware of the other toxic foods for dogs, aside from those containing aflatoxin. That way, you can guarantee his safety all the time.