Not So Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet: Xanthan Gum

The next ingredient we’re covering in our ongoing series on Not So Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet is xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is something humans should try to avoid in their own food and their pet’s food as well.

What is xanthan gum?

Xanthan gum is a powdery, sugar like substance that is used as a thickening or stabilizing additive in foods, toothpastes and medicine. It can be used to treat lower blood sugar and cholesterol in people with diabetes. While it is FDA approved as a food additive, it is created in a laboratory and is a soluble fiber adding no nutritional value to any sort.

It helps ingredients blend together and to stay blended. Think of canned pet food with chunks of carrots throughout.

Why would xanthan gum be in pet food?
Xanthan gum is gaining in popularity with pet food manufacturers because it has a low glycemic index and food containing it can be marketed as ‘gluten free’ which is certainly a buzz word in the nutrition business these days. It is used almost exclusively in wet food.

Are there any risks to feeding your pet xanthan gum?
Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is the voluntary association of local, state, and federal agencies that oversees pet food and they have issued preliminary approvals for the use of xanthan gum in canned cat and dog food. That being said, it is not a natural substance and how your pet reacts should always be monitored.

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The main risk may be intestinal upset. If your pet eats too much for their digestive system, it may cause upset in the form of bloating or diarrhea. There is also some anecdotal evidence that it may increase the frequency of IBD in your pets.

It is made from carbohydrates from corn, wheat, dairy, or soy – none of which are great for your pet’s health.

Xanthan gum Factoids:

Xanthan Gum was “discovered” by a team of USDA researchers in the 1960’s. In 1968 it was approved for use as a food additive in the US and Europe.

Some common foods that contain xanthan gum are salad dressings, sauces, beverages, syrups, baked goods, cookies, candy and low fat spreads.

Xanthan gum can also be found in lipsticks, lotions, toothpaste and some medicines.

Pet foods that contain xanthan gum:
Xanthan gum is found in only about 17% of the wet foods in the Petnet Food database.

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