Aflatoxin… Avoiding the Deadliest Natural Toxin in Dog Food

Aflatoxin is a deadly natural poison that can cause serious illness or death in dogs

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Aflatoxin can cause life-threatening illness in dogs

Aflatoxin is one of the most dangerous natural poisons known to food scientists. And many times, it can be found in some of the most popular dog foods on the market.


Aflatoxin has led to the tragic death of hundreds of dogs… and has caused an increasing number of life-threatening dog food recalls.

Animal feed corn with mold

What Is Aflatoxin?

Aflatoxin is a potent ‘natural’ poison that’s produced by a common type of food mold known as Aspergillus flavus.

But it’s NOT the mold you need to worry about.

It’s aflatoxin… the deadly poison produced by that mold… that can cause liver failure, cancer and death… in dogs.

Which Ingredients Contain Aflatoxin?

In nature…

Aspergillus mold is a gray-green, fuzzy-looking substance that can be found growing on the surface of cereal grains.

Grains like wheat, millet, sorghum, and rice.

However, since 2009…

Corn has been the most common source of aflatoxin in every poison-related dog food recall.

Here’s what corn contaminated with Aspergillus mold looks like: Aspergillus mold on corn and producing aflatoxin

What’s worse…

Much of the corn rejected for use in human food… like so many other inferior ingredients… frequently finds its way into commercial pet food.

What Makes Aflatoxin So Dangerous?

Contaminated corn in storage bin

Compared to almost any other dog food contaminant, aflatoxin has the potential to be FAR more dangerous.

That’s because…

Aflatoxin is invisible. So, you can’t see it… not even with a high-power microscope.

Yet it can still be present… even when there’s no visible sign of mold on the surface of the food.

What’s more…

Unlike Salmonella and other disease-causing bacteria

Aflatoxin is a poisonous chemical.

Which means… it’s NOT alive.

So You Can’t Kill It

And you can’t cook it out of a dog food, either.

In fact…

Aflatoxin is so resistant to heat

It even survives the germ-killing process of pasteurization… a process required by law when making canned dog foods.

Or the high heat methods used for making dry dog food.

Which is why, after cooking, the deadly poison can still be found inside an unopened can of wet dog food…

Or a sealed bag of dry kibble. Corn contaminated with mold during storage

How Toxic Is Aflatoxin?

Compared to other natural poisons…

Aflatoxin has the highest toxicity of all mold toxins.1   And for this reason, it’s one of the leading causes of liver failure and liver cancer in dogs.2

What’s worse…

There’s no known anti-toxin to neutralize it. So, once aflatoxin enters a dog’s body… there’s no way to remove it.

Two Ways Aflatoxin Can Kill Your Dog

Dogs are highly susceptible to aflatoxin poisoning.

That’s because unlike humans, who eat a varied diet

Dogs tend to eat the same food… meal after meal… day after day… for a lifetime.

Which is why there are 2 ways aflatoxin can kill a dog.

  1. Acute poisoning
  2. Chronic poisoning

Acute Poisoning

Dogs exposed to higher doses of aflatoxin can experience sudden and severe reactions to the poison.

Acute reactions like these can progress so quickly that a dog can die before ever receiving treatment.

These are the cases you hear about the most… and they represent the leading cause of aflatoxin-related recall events.

Chronic Poisoning

In contrast…

Dogs exposed to lower, non-lethal doses of aflatoxin over a longer period of time may survive.

But chronic, long term exposure to smaller doses can be just as deadly.

That’s because…

Tiny, invisible amounts of poison can accumulate in the body… over time… and can ultimately cause liver cancer later in your dog’s life.3

Which is what makes chronic poisoning so much more dangerous.

The Bottom Line

Chronic, long-term exposure to tiny, undetectable amounts of aflatoxin in your pet’s food has the potential to cause serious damage to the future health of your dog.

How to Protect Your Dog from Aflatoxin

On this page…

You’ve learned about aflatoxin and why it’s so dangerous. Here are 3 things you can do right now to protect your dog from this deadly poison.

  1. Become aware of recalls early. So you can take action… before smaller doses of aflatoxin can accumulate in your dog’s body. Click here to get free lifesaving dog food recall alerts by email as soon as they happen.
  2. Don’t rely on grain-based dog foods alone. Keep in mind, aflatoxin is only rarely found in grain-free recipes. Instead, consider diet rotation to diversify your pet’s menu.
  3. Mold toxins can be hidden in any dog food. To lower the risk, avoid brands with troubled recall histories… especially those known for being repeat offenders when it comes to aflatoxin or other matters of product safety. Repeat offenders are removed from each of The Dog Food Advisor’s “best” lists as soon as they’re discovered. So, visit one of the many Editor’s Choice categories from our Best Dog Food page for some exceptional selections.

2 comments on “Aflatoxin… Avoiding the Deadliest Natural Toxin in Dog Food

    • Hopefully with human consumption their standards are a lot higher, than they are in the animal feed industry.
      I’m sure it’s like anything else, human or animal depending on your age and how much and often you consumed it.
      They say you can’t smell it, but I’m one of the lucky ones I can smell a rancid smell sometimes like wheat or hey and it causes me to sneeze and sometimes even get stuffy, a good way to start learning how it will smell is take a loaf of bread that you’ve had for a while and instead of throwing it out hang on to it, each day open the bag and see what it smells like as it gets closer to moldy and picks up a mold smell and I always check the expiration date and every time I open up bags or jars like peanut butter I gave it the sniff test, if it smells nice and clean and true to it s product and it looks clean, meaning it doesn’t look snowy or dull, another way you can check, take a clean white napkin, tissue or a light colored towel and lay them out flat and then press down and see if you get a residue. Luckily in our house with me around the peanut butter never last long but my husband doesn’t like to reach way down into the jar 🙄 so I open a new one for him and I will spoon out the bottom of the old, now and then if there too long it picks up a rancid smell, on raisins, figs they should look nice and clean and shiny if they look dull and have a white snowy look, I run them under water and see if that cleans them up, sometimes they just get that way from being stored, but if they smell rancid, I dispose of them, I don’t even give them to the birds. My sister-in-law were in the tractor supply store and we each bought a 40 lb bag of sunflower seeds, I grabbed the top one and put it in her cart and put one in mine the next day she called me up and asked me if I open the bag, mine was fine, hers look dull and she said fuzzy, I told her not to use and bring it back, when she came over she opened the bag and I could smell the mold and I started sneezing and got real stuffy, put on my garden gloves and pull some out of the bag and you could see the green mold on the seed in the bag had a film on it, we took it back to the store they were surprised to see the bag looking like that, now and then that happens. I hope this helps 😃

      Liked by 1 person

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