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The Hidden Risk - AGEs in your Dog's Food!

Ever wonder if kibble is hurting your dog? It's not just the additives or cheap ingredients that are concerning. It's something called glycotoxins.





Commercial dry and wet dog food might be making our furry friends ill, particularly as they age. The culprit? The same harmful compounds found in processed human food. The pet food industry hasn't studied this extensively, but emerging research is sounding alarm bells. Let's explore the world of glycotoxins in dog food.


So, what exactly are Glycotoxins, also known as Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs)?

When a fat or protein molecule interacts with sugar in a chemical reaction, glycotoxins are born. Some are naturally produced by the body, but others come from a diet rich in highly processed and heat-treated food.


In simple terms, a protein or a fat molecule gets a sugar molecule added to it during a chemical reaction involving sugars, fats, and proteins. Advanced glycation end products are biomarkers (a sign found in blood tests) of ageing and many degenerative diseases.


In our diet, they are usually the byproduct of the Maillard reaction, responsible for the browning effect in food, like when sugar caramelises. You know that really yummy crispness on the outside of fried foods? We'll that what I'm talking about. I think we all know deep down that that stuff is not good for us. Essentially, AGEs are produced when food is cooked at high temperatures.


AGEs have been linked to numerous conditions in humans and animals, including:


  • Obesity

  • Diabetes

  • Food allergies

  • Poor gut health

  • Heart disease

  • Hardened arteries

  • Kidney failure

  • Alzheimer’s

  • Parkinson’s

  • Certain cancers

  • Various other degenerative conditions.


Given that dry dog food and canned food are cooked at extreme heat, often multiple times, it stands to reason that these harmful compounds could also be making our dogs sick.


Another way AGEs are produced is when the body naturally creates them as byproducts from digesting food. These are known as endogenous AGEs. Diets high in carbohydrates (sugars) can lead to a surplus of AGEs in the body.


Take note: dry food (kibble) can contain up to 60% processed carbs. This high carbohydrate content may elevate the number of AGEs in your dog's tissues, potentially causing damage and inflammation.


Chronic inflammation is a major contributor to most diseases that dogs contract as they age. So, it's crucial to understand the potential risks and take steps to protect your dog's health.


The Link Between Dog Food and Disease Risk

In 2020, a doctoral study revealed alarming links between Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs) in dog food and potential health risks. The study found that canned foods contained the highest levels of AGEs, likely due to their high-temperature cooking process. Kibble also showed high AGE levels, while dehydrated and raw food contained the least.



The study also revealed concerning findings:


  • Dogs consuming dry food might ingest more acrylamide than the average adult human, which is concerning even if it falls within supposedly "safe" levels.

  • AGEs tend to accumulate in the brain and heart of older dogs, potentially contributing to heart disease and dementia.

  • Three cases showed dogs with high AGE levels developing hardened arteries.

  • Pets are estimated to consume up to five times more harmful heterocyclic amines daily through dry and canned pet food than humans. These compounds are linked to various cancers in animal studies.

  • Certain AGEs, like carboxymethyl lysine (CML), fructose lysine, and hydroxymethylfurfural, are present in higher amounts in pet food. These compounds are linked to liver and kidney disorders, diabetes, and ageing.


The study also found that the more heat-processed the pet food was, the more AGEs were present in the dogs' system. These AGEs are closely tied to kidney failure, a condition affecting about 1 in 10 dogs.



Are Dogs at a Higher Risk from AGEs Than Humans?

The presence of harmful glycotoxins in pet food is undeniable. However, due to limited research, we cannot definitively understand how these toxins impact dogs, or other pets, including how they are absorbed, metabolised, or expelled by their bodies.


While no direct links between dog-related ailments, such as dementia, and these toxins have been established, studies reveal that these toxic substances do accumulate in the brains of older dogs.



It's logical to infer that if glycotoxins wreak havoc in the human body, they could negatively impact our pets too. Dogs, in fact, may be more susceptible to AGEs than we are. But why?


The answer lies in our evolutionary biology. Humans have evolved to tolerate toxins present in foods like grapes, raisins, chocolate, and onions - substances toxic to dogs. Our bodies have adapted to metabolise these compounds safely as we evolved to consume more carbohydrates. Despite the health risks of high blood sugar levels, our bodies' responses to carbohydrate-rich meals indicate our enhanced ability to process carbohydrates and, consequently, possibly eliminate AGEs.


Our consumption of cooked foods, which potentially dates back between 1.8 million and 400,000 years ago, may have boosted our capacity to purge glycotoxins from our system. However, modern processed foods still pose significant health risks.


In contrast, dogs were domesticated merely 30,000 years ago, leaving them ill-equipped to handle the same quantity of processed carbohydrates as humans. Therefore, it's plausible to assume that dogs may be more prone and vulnerable to the harmful effects of glycotoxins present in their food.


Improve Your Dog's Health by Lowering AGEs

The foremost way to decrease harmful glycotoxins in your dog's diet is simple: choose fresh, balanced meals for your furry friend. But the journey doesn't stop there. The Anti-A.G.E’s Foundation provides additional measures:


  • Keep your dog active. Exercise is not just good for their heart; it also helps minimise glycotoxin-forming macronutrients in their body. Always consider their physical capability and adjust accordingly.

  • Cook smart. If you prepare your dog's meals, use a slow cooker to maintain low temperatures.

  • Opt for raw-based diets. If raw feeding isn't an option, consider freeze-dried, dehydrated, or air-dried foods. Freeze-dried options retain the nutrient richness of raw food as they're not heat-processed. Dehydrated or air-dried variants, though subject to low-temperature drying, may experience slight nutrient loss.


In Conclusion

Dry kibble is detrimental to your dog's health, and glycotoxins are a significant reason behind this belief. While other factors like synthetic additives, low-quality nutrients, and aflatoxins contribute to its unhealthiness, glycotoxins are linked to various diseases, from dementia to cancer. Therefore, canned or ultra-processed dry dog food doesn't make a wise choice for your dog's long-term health. Investing in healthier alternatives pays off in the long run.



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