You might have heard about monosodium glutamate before, and that’s because it is one of the most common ingredients that manufacturers and sometimes even cooks add to their food to make it more appealing.
But there are a lot of opinions on MSG out there and while some people argue that it doesn’t have a negative impact on human health, this substance is not the best to give to dogs.
In today’s article, we’re looking at how MSG can harm your canine friend, what foods it’s present in, if it can be found in kibble, and how you can prevent it from affecting your dog.
What is MSG?
Monosodium glutamate is a chemical that can be found naturally in foods such as tomatoes, as well as cheese, and that is commonly added by food manufacturers as a food enhancer.
According to various official national associates, including the FDA, MSG is viewed as safe to use. However, plenty of people experience a variety of unpleasant clinical signs after eating food containing this ingredient, such as changes in their blood pressure, nausea and sweating, chest pain, and sometimes even regional numbness.
MSG has similar organic capabilities to salt (both of them are sodium, after all), so it significantly affects the cardiovascular health system.
How Can MSG Affect Your Dog?
Dogs can experience much of the same symptoms that humans can after eating MSG. The main difference is that dogs are usually smaller than people, which means that the same dose can be much riskier for them.
There have been some studies that basically proved that MSG has extremely negative impacts on the nervous system, especially the brain. In one horrible experiment, a researcher injected massive doses of MSG subcutaneously to mice and they quickly became braindead.
While that obviously can happen in situations where dogs eat very large quantities of MSG, it would also involve you having MSG powder in your home – and not a lot of people use it as an ingredient while cooking food.
Something that can’t be denied is that MSG is a type of salt and can therefore cause symptoms similar to sodium poisoning in dogs. As you probably know if you’ve been a dog parent for a while now, this species is not supposed to have salt. It’s already present in small amounts in various types of foods and sometimes even kibble, so adding more to your pet’s diet is completely unhealthy and unnecessary.
As such, some dogs can experience the following clinical signs:
These are the most common symptoms that dogs can experience after being exposed to monosodium glutamate. High doses of MSG can cause death.
How much MSG is too much?
While it is true that MSG is toxic to dogs and you should try to avoid it at all cost, the amount that’s likely to be present in some types of foods is probably not going to cause any symptoms.
Some dogs might experience digestive distress after eating MSG, but the quantity currently used by most manufacturers isn’t that dangerous. That does not mean that it might not cause problems if the dog is exposed to this substance day in and day out.
A dosage that would indeed be toxic to dogs would be something around two to three tablespoons of MSG powder. The powder can be bought in Asian supermarkets or online, and some people might add it to their recipes at home. If that is the case with you, make sure you keep it in a lockable pantry cabinet so that your pooch never gets close to it. Pure MSG can kill a dog.
How to avoid MSG
As previously mentioned, MSG is naturally present in foods such as cheese and tomatoes, but it can also be found in soy sauce, seaweed, as well as breast milk.
The amount of monosodium glutamate in these foods is low to very low, so you probably don’t have to worry about anything. However, that doesn’t mean that parmesan cheese or soy sauce are healthy for dogs – their salt content is clearly too high.
Unfortunately, some types of pet foods can contain MSG and while the quantities are probably negligible, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and protect your dog from getting exposed to it. Carefully check the label of your dog’s kibble or canned food to rule out any suspicion that they might contain monosodium glutamate.
Don’t give your dog human food. Table scraps are the worst because they can contain not just MSG, but also straight sodium, which means that they can cause severe hypertension.
Chinese food is not good for dogs in any way, shape, or form, because the sauces used in its cooking can put your pet’s health and even life at risk.
For any type of human food that you might want to give your dog as a treat, read the label to see if there are any MSG or potentially carcinogenic substances listed on the label. If you don’t know for sure whether a food is appropriate for dogs, just don’t risk giving it to them and ask your vet the next time you take your dog for a check-up.
Regular Foods That Have Monosodium Glutamate
We’re not going to name any brands here, but we will give you some large food categories that you can automatically assume contain MSG – so that you can stay away from them both for yourself and your dog:
- Store-bought sauces and condiments
- Any type of processed meat
- Fast food
- Canned soups
- Any type of instant noodle variety
- Frozen meals (TV dinners)
- Plant-based meats