MSG in Your Pet’s Food and Its Harm

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This article is posted as part of PGAA’s curation efforts.


Why Many Pet Foods Contain MSG and Why You May Not Even Know It


A few years ago, I picked up one of the pet industry’s trade publications. As I flipped through the pages, I was horrified by the full-page ads for flavor enhancers. Mass marketing of chemically created flavors designed to make crappy food taste better!

Many pet food companies, even the ones that claim to be natural or premium, add chemically processed monosodium glutamate (MSG) to their food as both a palatant (flavor enhancer) and as a way to keep your pet addicted to their food.

The MSG in pet foods are created chemically by either hydrolyzing vegetable protein (almost always from soy) or fermenting glucose from starches. Hydrolyzing is achieved a couple of ways. First is by boiling an amino acid in a strong hydrochloric acid and then neutralizing it with sodium hydroxide. The other is by adding enzymes, like protease, to help break down the amino acid.

MSG tricks the tongue receptors into thinking food is higher in protein than it actually is. It actually excites brain cells into making them over-react to substances. In the over-reactive state, the dog or cat consuming it believes the food tastes better. This allows pet food companies to use lower quality proteins and other low quality ingredients and fillers.

Note: it is not just pet food companies that do this — most processed foods for humans including frozen dinners, soups, chips and more contain MSG for precisely the same reasons.

Neither the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) nor the American Association of Feed Control Officers (AAFCO) require MSG be listed on the ingredient labels of pet foods. Instead it may appear as hydrolyzed protein, natural flavoring, natural liver flavoring, yeast extract, hydrolyzed corn gluten or liver digest.

MSG can:

  • Stimulate or damage the nervous system
  • Create taurine deficiencies
  • Damage brain cells
  • Affect the thyroid
  • Cause obesity

The best way to avoid MSG is by providing your pet with a homemade diet of real foods. If this isn’t doable, look for some of the dehydrated or freeze-dried foods by companies like The Honest Kitchen or Stella & Chew’s. There are many smaller pet food companies, like Nature’s Logic for example, who never add MSG to their foods.

If you are unsure about the source of any ingredients on a pet food’s label, call the company and ask. An honest company will be happy to share information (most do not see a problem with adding MSG). If you get the runaround, it’s time to switch foods.

This entry was written by jodi at, posted on October 5, 2012 at 1:24 pm

This article was originally posted and authorized for reposting by Jodi Ziskin at
Jodi is a Holistic Nutrition and Wellness Specialist for Cats and Dogs and a Certified Pet Nutrition Consultant who also holds a Master of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition with a concentration in companion animal care. Jodi’s mission is to help cats and dogs live healthier and happier. 2013. All Rights Reserved