What is selenium?
Selenium works with vitamins E and C to act as an antioxidant in the body, cleansing cellular damage caused by free radicals. Selenium also helps maintain the thyroid gland, aids in metabolizing proteins, avoids dry flaky skin, and prevents heart problems.
A new study on sodium selenite has found that this “sealant” is very toxic to both cats and dogs.
Selenium (Se) is an essential trace mineral, but too much of it will be dangerous to your dog’s health. For example, its toxicity results in Keshan disease in Chinese children who eat large amounts of brown rice grown in soils that are deficient in selenium. Dogs are more sensitive than humans, so correct dosing is also important for them.
Sodium selenite can easily reach toxic levels even at just over the normal dose required by a medium-sized adult dog. It can cause liver failure and death if overdosed or fed continuously for too long a period. This is why some dog food brands are taking it out of their products.
Sodium selenite is an inexpensive source of selenium that has been added to kibble and wet dog foods for years, even though there was never proof that it made the food more nutritious or better tasting. The Merrick Pet Care Company, makers of the popular Grandma’s Chicken Soup dry dog food brand, announced in September 2005 that they would no longer include sodium selenite in their recipes.
This decision came after a University of California at Davis study showed that high levels of sodium selenite caused severe liver disease in dogs who ate Merrick’s product. A spokesperson for Merrick stated that “our decision to remove sodium selenite from our pet food was based on our commitment to pet health and nutrition as well as the recent study findings at UC Davis.”
Now, even more, evidence is emerging about sodium selenite’s toxicity. A new study has found that this sealant causes reproductive problems in dogs and may even contribute to cancer. The researchers discovered that prenatal exposure to sodium selenite decreased the fertility of female dogs and their puppies and altered gene expression in their ovaries.
Furthermore, postnatal exposure increased the risk for mammary tumors later in life. All of these effects were seen at levels considered safe by the FDA. Let’s hope more dog food companies will follow Merrick’s example so we can have a healthier pet population!
Sodium selenite is not very easily metabolized by dogs, and it accumulates in their liver, spleen, and kidneys. These organs require selenium for proper function, so high concentrations of sodium selenite can cause cascade effects more severe than those seen at first glance. 4-8% of the sodium selenite dose will be retained in your dog’s body after consumption; this is why even low levels may pose a health risk over time.
Liver damage has been detected as early as 2 weeks into feeding studies with one brand of dry food which contained 1ppm (part per million) or less of sodium selenite.
Too much sodium selenite causes fatty degeneration throughout the body, including the liver and kidneys It also affects reproduction: pregnant dogs are more likely to have stillborn or stunted offspring, and lactating mothers are less likely to nurse their young.
Sodium selenite is a salt form of selenium that can easily be mistaken for potassium selenate; it has an atomic weight of 78 compared to that of selenium’s atomic weight of 34.8 (for molecular compounds). Selenium is an essential element that must be supplied incorrect amounts by food, but too much can damage your dog’s bone marrow and kidneys as well as cause skin problems such as white-spotting on the muzzle.
Even if you feed your dog commercial dry pet foods with high levels of added sodium selenite, make sure he also receives nutrients like Vitamin E, vitamin C, zinc, copper, and choline in his diet to counteract the toxic effects of this mineral.
Does honest kitchen contain sodium selenite?
The Honest Kitchen Preference as well as the Honest Kitchen Dehydrated Dog Food contain 1ppm of sodium selenite along with other forms of naturally occurring selenium from food sources. The 2010 version of the TOTW All Life Stages Dry Dog Food contains a whole 1ppm of sodium selenite, and the 2009 version had this same amount.
The 2009 version of the Solid Gold WolfKing high protein adult dog food contained 1ppm of sodium selenite, and this ingredient has been removed from its 2012 formulation.
The presence of any ingredients on our label is always noted with an asterisk * naming that item as containing or possibly containing that ingredient. Since sodium selenite is a mineral with an atomic weight of 78, it will be listed as sodium selenate or just plain selenium on our label.
The guaranteed analysis for calcium and phosphorus is done by a standard animal feeding protocol which determines the percentage after moisture has been removed from the food through dehydration.
What foods contain selenite?
Sodium selenite is added to commercial dry pet food, dog treats, and some dog chews.
Vitamin supplements do not contain this ingredient.
Is sodium chloride bad in dog food?
Sodium chloride is salt, which is good in the right amounts. Most “low sodium” dog foods do not contain high enough levels of potassium to balance out the low sodium bags often have similar levels of potassium as regular bags. I wouldn’t recommend switching to a low sodium food for your dog if he has an underlying medical reason for needing a low sodium food.