What is Carrageenan in Dog Food?

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Choosing the best dog food can be tough, especially when you don’t know what all the various ingredients mean.

Pet food companies aren’t strictly regulated. That’s why it’s important for you to check the white label on the back of the packaging. 

Research all the ingredients present in your pet’s kibble to make sure it’s safe. One ingredient you’ll often see is carrageenan.

But is this ingredient actually healthy and safe for your pet to eat?

Continue reading this article to find out more about it.

  • What is it?
  • Is it good or bad for your pet?
  • And should you buy dog food with Carrageenan in it?

What is Carrageenan in Dog Food?

Dog with bowl of dog food with carrageenan

Carrageenan is a common emulsifier included in many human and pet foods alike.

It is used within wet foods and serves as an additive[1] to thicken, fill up, and emulsify the food. 

It comes in two different forms, degraded and undegraded.

Undegraded carrageenan is most commonly used as an additive in various dog foods. 

Related: What is Pea Protein in Dog Food? Is it Safe for Dogs?

Is Carrageenan Good for Dogs?

Carrageenan itself is not a digestible substance[2] for dogs or humans. Your pet’s digestive system cannot process any of it in their kibble.

Naturally, this means it offers absolutely no nutritional value when consumed. 

Moreover, carrageenan does not contain any fiber or roughage (ruff-age?). So it does not provide any digestive benefits to the dog either.

It offers no benefit to dogs, nutritional or otherwise. But is it harmful to your pet? Let’s find out!

Is Carrageenan Bad for Dogs?

Since Carrageenan is so common in processed human and pet foods, there is a vast amount of research on it.

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Over the past decade, there have been several important discoveries about it. 

Much of the discourse has been negative, calling into question its safety.

Firstly, carrageenan has been found to cause inflammation within the digestive tract[3].

This can cause short-term problems such as pain and an upset stomach and long-term problems like ulcers and lesions. 

Moreover, research shows[4] that carrageenan is a potential carcinogen, and excessive consumption can cause colon cancer.

Some research suggests[5] that this substance can lead to Alzheimer’s within human beings. Thus it might also impact the cognitive function of man’s best friend. 

There have been strong calls for companies to stop adding carrageenan in dog food.

Yet, so far, pet food companies have resisted this pressure. Instead, they argue that the negative health effects only apply to degraded carrageenan.

Yet, there is no evidence putting undegraded carrageenan in the clear!

Thus, all the evidence points to the fact that Carrageenan is bad for dogs.

It can lead to serious health issues both in the short and long term if it is a regular part of the animal’s diet. 

Related: What is Crude Protein in Dog Food? Is it Safe?

Sources of Carrageenan in Dog Food

There are two primary sources of carrageenan used within the pet food industry.

The first is dairy products and substitutes such as cheese, cow milk, and even coconut milk. 

The second is processed seaweed.

This is the most common source in animal feeds, such as dog food.

The industry normally processes seaweed and extracts carrageenan from it.

This serves as an emulsifier for many wet foods pet owners feed their animals.

How Much Carrageenan Do Dogs Need?

Carrageenan does not offer any proven benefits, nutritional or otherwise.

In fact, consuming this substance may cause a wide variety of health problems for the animal. 

Due to this fact, we recommend that dogs do not consume carrageenan at all. Therefore, if possible, make sure your pet is not eating food with carrageenan in it.

Now that you are better informed regarding the negative health effects of carrageenan, you are better equipped to make the right choice and avoid any foods with this harmful ingredient, thus, keeping your four-legged companion happy and healthy for years to come.

Related: What is Alfalfa Meal in Dog Food? Is it a Good Protein Source?

Dog Foods With Carrageenan

If you are looking for wet dog foods for your canine friend, here are a few that contain Carrageenan.

Always try your best to avoid these!

1. Royal Canin Canine Adult 

Royal Canin Canine Adult with carrageenan

This recipe contains real chicken and pork, which makes it appear healthy.

However, lower on the ingredient list, you’ll see carrageenan. That means you should keep it far away from your pet!

Related: What is Copper Sulfate in Dog Food? Is it Safe for Dogs?

2. Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein

Blue Buffalo Wilderness High Protein

Despite the fact that this Blue Buffalo recipe markets itself as being high in protein and particularly suitable for dogs, it also contains carrageenan and should be avoided at all costs.

3. Cesar Gourmet Wet Dog Food Variety Packs

Cesar Gourmet Wet Dog Food Variety Packs

Sorry, Cesar, there is nothing ‘Gourmet’ about inflaming your dog’s organs and risking cancer.

This formulation is another one that any responsible pet owner should steer clear of.

Dog Foods Without Carrageenan

If you still need a wet food treat for your dog, then there are a plethora of carrageenan-free options to consider on the market.

Here are a few healthy options that your pet can safely enjoy. 

1. Weruva Paw Lickin’ Chicken

Weruva Paw Lickin’ Chicken

This option contains whole pieces of boneless and skinless chicken breast. Rich in protein, it provides your pet with all the nutrients it needs.

In addition to not having carrageenan, this dog food has no additives making it a healthy treat.

2. Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Chicken & Turkey

Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Chicken & Turkey

This option is free from both grains and carrageenan. All in all, it is a great option for pets with sensitive stomachs.

Moreover, additional vitamins supplement the protein. The formula will help bolster your pet’s immunity.

3. Canidae All Life Stages Premium Wet

Canidae All Life Stages Premium Wet

If your furry friend has no issues consuming grains, then this is another suitable option. It is primarily composed of rice and chicken.

Also, there are no harmful additives like Carrageenan, making it a suitable option.

Conclusion

All in all, carrageenan is a terrible ingredient for dog food. It doesn’t add any value.

In fact, it can cause terrible diseases like cancers and digestive inflammation. That’s why it is up to you to read the labels carefully. 

Always make sure you know what you’re feeding your dog. And if you see a brand selling kibble with carrageenan, beware!

Resources

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/carrageenan
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12389870/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8539934/#:~:text=Studies%20conducted%20in%20mice%20demonstrated,composition%20%5B29%2C30%5D.
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1242073/
  5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323117

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