Choline Chloride in Dog Food: What Ingredients Should Not Be in Dog Food?

Choline chloride is a common supplement in dog food and it sounds like a nasty chemical, but it is actually a naturally occurring vitamin that is used often as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats.

Choline chloride in dog food is generally considered safe for dogs as it is a naturally occurring ingredient.

As with any ingredient, there is the chance that a dog can be intolerant or allergic to choline chloride, but this can be determined fairly easily by a veterinarian.

Is choline good for dogs?

Choline is a B vitamin, commonly labelled as vitamin B4, and is vital to a healthy digestive tract. Choline is naturally occurring in many foods, such as:

  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Lamb
  • Liver
  • Salmon
  • Broccoli
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Beets
  • Flaxseed

Choline is found within acetylcholine and dopamine, both of which are neurotransmitters which send signals from nerve cells to the brain.

Choline also protects the liver from harmful toxins, plays an important role in metabolism and is vital to brain health.

What are the symptoms of choline deficiency?

Typical signs of choline deficiency include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Low energy
  • Sleeping more often
  • Muscle stiffness or pain
  • Fatty liver
  • Jaundice

Speak with your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms and your dog is normally fit and healthy. Choline deficiency is easily treated with choline supplements or by introducing choline rich foods into your dog’s diet.

What ingredients should not be in dog food?

While choline is a beneficial ingredient, there are many ingredients that should not be in dog food. Here are the top 10:

  1. Fillers. Dog food companies use filler ingredients as a cheap way of filling out a recipe, rather than using more expensive ingredients. Filler ingredients include soybean husks, rice bran and modified corn starch. These are typically indigestible and do not provide any nutritional benefit.
  2. Wheat. Gluten intolerance is increasingly common in dogs, so foods containing wheat should be avoided.
  3. Soy. This is another common allergy ingredient. It is a source of protein that is much cheaper than chicken or fish.
  4. Corn. While it does provide fibre and protein, dogs can only digest a small amount and allergies are becoming more common.
  5. By-products. Any ingredient listed as a ‘by-product’ is essentially leftover parts of an animal that are not considered safe for human consumption.
  6. Artificial flavours. Dogs are not biologically suited to digesting processed ingredients. Artificial colours can cause digestive upset.
  7. Preservatives. They may extend food shelf life but they are made from low-quality ingredients.
  8. Sweeteners. Dogs do not need sweeteners in their food. Xylitol is a sweetener that can cause toxic shock in dogs.
  9. Milk. Dogs do not produce the right digestive enzymes to break down lactose. Milk can cause diarrhoea and vomiting.
  10. Cooked bones. Raw bones are generally safe, provided you supervise your dog. Cooked bones are dry and brittle. They can splinter easily and cause serious internal damage.
The Quality of Pet Food Ingredients (Part 1 of 2)
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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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