GMOs In Dog Food: Everything You Need To Know

GMOs In Dog Food

Alex Seilis

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have become a hot topic in recent years, sparking debates over their safety and impact on health. But what about GMOs in your dog's food?

Let's dive into what GMOs are, where they can be found, and the potential risks they pose to your dog's health.

What Are GMOs In Dog Food And Pet Food?

GMOs, or genetically modified organisms, are plants or animals that have had their DNA altered through genetic engineering. This process involves transferring genes from one species to another to introduce new traits, such as resistance to pests or herbicides.

Unlike traditional cross-breeding, genetic modification combines genes that would not naturally occur together, creating entirely new genetic combinations.

Cross Breeding Vs. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

While cross-breeding involves the natural process of transferring pollen between plants to combine traits, genetic modification is an artificial process. In cross-breeding, plant breeders select specific parent plants for desired traits and manually transfer pollen to create offspring with attributes of both parents.

This method still relies on natural reproductive processes. In contrast, genetic modification involves inserting genes from one species into another's DNA, creating combinations that would never occur in nature. This process can significantly impact a food's nutritional value, toxicity, and allergenic properties.

Where Are GMOs Found?

Genetically modified crops like corn, soy, beets, canola, rice, and potatoes are common ingredients in commercial pet foods. Even if you're feeding your dog a homemade raw diet, the meat you buy might come from animals fed GMO crops.

Bottom line? Unless you're using certified organic ingredients, GMOs are likely present in your dog's food.

Health Risks Of GMOs For Dogs

Several studies have shown potential health risks associated with consuming GMO foods. These risks include:

Organ Damage

Research has linked GMOs to liver, kidney, pancreatic, and reproductive issues. For example, a study found that rats fed GMO corn experienced significant organ damage over a short period, indicating potential long-term effects on pets.

Gut Health

GMOs can alter gut bacteria, leading to leaky gut syndrome and immune system problems. Altered gut microbiota can compromise your dog's ability to absorb nutrients, potentially leading to chronic gastrointestinal issues and weakened immunity.

Endocrine Disruption

Some studies suggest that GMOs can disrupt hormonal balance. This disruption can affect your dog's metabolism, growth, and reproductive health, making it a serious concern for long-term well-being.


Long-term exposure to GMOs has been associated with an increased risk of cancer. Studies on animals have shown a higher incidence of tumors and other cancerous growths, raising significant concerns about the safety of GMOs.

Allergies and Cognitive Issues

GMOs may contribute to food allergies and cognitive disorders. Allergens introduced through genetic modification can trigger severe allergic reactions, while cognitive issues may manifest as behavioral changes or decreased learning ability.

The above concerns come from the following studies:

  • The insecticide Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), present in GMO corn, has been shown to harm kidney cells and may lead to leaky gut syndrome in infants.
  • A 2012 two-year feeding trial revealed that rats consuming NK603 Roundup-tolerant GMO corn or water with Roundup developed cancer at higher rates and died earlier than those on a standard diet.
  • A 2009 safety study by Dona et al indicated that GM foods might cause adverse effects on the liver, pancreas, kidneys, and reproductive organs, and may alter blood and immune parameters.
  • Due to the underdeveloped blood-brain barrier in newborns, toxins can penetrate the brain, potentially causing severe cognitive issues, which some experts believe may contribute to autism.
  • Research by de Vendemois et al demonstrated that rats fed three different types of GMO corn for 90 days exhibited liver and kidney toxicity, as well as side effects in the heart, adrenal glands, spleen, and blood cells.
  • Other studies have found that genetic modifications can disrupt gut bacteria, affecting their behavior in the digestive system.

Common GMO Foods And GMO Crops In Dog Food

A significant percentage of the crops used in pet foods are genetically modified. Here are some of the most common GMO ingredients:


88% of U.S. corn is genetically modified. Corn is a staple in many pet foods due to its cost-effectiveness, but its GMO variant poses health risks, including potential allergenicity and digestive problems.


94% of U.S. soy is genetically modified, often appearing in pet foods under various names like lecithin and tocopherols. Soy is commonly used as a protein source, but GMO soy has been linked to endocrine disruption and allergic reactions.


90% of U.S. canola is genetically modified. Canola oil is often used in pet foods for its omega-3 content, but the GMO version may carry risks of toxicity and inflammation.

Cottonseed, Alfalfa, and Beets

These crops are also commonly genetically modified and found in pet foods. Cottonseed oil is used in many pet foods, while alfalfa is a common feed for livestock, indirectly affecting meat quality. Beet pulp, a fiber source, often contains GMOs, potentially impacting gut health.

Avoiding GMOs In Your Dog's Food

To minimize your dog's exposure to GMOs, consider the following tips:

Choose Certified Organic Foods

Organic foods are less likely to contain GMOs. Organic certification requires adherence to strict standards, ensuring that your dog's food is free from genetically modified ingredients and synthetic pesticides.

Look for Non-GMO Project Verified Products

The Non-GMO Project provides third-party verification for non-GMO foods. This verification gives you assurance that the product meets rigorous standards for GMO avoidance.

Check Labels Carefully

Be aware of ingredients that may be derived from GMO crops. Ingredients such as corn syrup, soy protein isolate, and canola oil often indicate the presence of GMOs. Reading labels meticulously helps you make informed choices about what goes into your dog's diet.

The Truth About Glyphosate In Pet Foods

Glyphosate, a common herbicide used on GMO crops, poses additional health risks. It has been linked to endocrine disruption, gut bacteria imbalance, and DNA damage. Testing shows that conventional kibble contains significantly higher levels of glyphosate compared to raw or canned foods. Glyphosate can also contribute to chronic conditions such as liver and kidney disease, further compromising your dog's health. Choosing foods with lower glyphosate levels can help mitigate these risks and promote a healthier diet for your pet.

By understanding the impact of GMOs and making informed choices, you can help ensure your dog enjoys a healthier, more natural diet. Selecting organic or Non-GMO Project Verified products and being vigilant about ingredient labels are crucial steps in safeguarding your dog's health from the potential dangers of GMOs and glyphosate.


What is GMO free dog food? GMO free dog food is made without genetically modified organisms, ensuring your pet consumes natural, organic ingredients that support overall pet health. Many pet owners prefer GMO free pet food to avoid potential health issues linked to genetically modified foods.

What is a GMO dog? A GMO dog is not a genetically modified dog but rather one that consumes dog foods containing genetically engineered ingredients. Feeding pets genetically modified foods can raise concerns about potential health issues such as stomach inflammation and chronic disease.

Are GMOs safe for animals? The safety of GMOs for animals is debated, with some studies linking genetically modified foods to health issues like organ damage and endocrine disruption. While GMOs are prevalent in food production, many pet owners opt for non GMO dog food and grain free diets to avoid potential negative impacts on pet health.