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Researchers at the University of Helsinki have released a study regarding arsenic exposure to dogs consuming a food containing rice (high on the ingredient list).

The Study shows and I quote,
Hair arsenic level in rice-based diet-fed Staffordshire bull terriers ” compared the arsenic levels in hair analysis of dogs fed a diet high in rice (rice listed as the first or second ingredient) to dogs fed a diet with no rice. The hair arsenic analysis “ was significantly higher in dogs fed a rice-based diet .” “ The results suggest that eating a rice-based diet for long periods of time represents a risk for chronic iAs (inorganic arsenic) exposure in dogs .”

This is a very worrying discovery, and certainly one that needs more research and information supplied to consumers and dog lovers/owners.

Check out the link, I am interested in your thoughts on this topic.


This study is next to worthless, because only 16 animals were tested (7 fed rice and 9 not fed rice). Pet foods usually have dozens of ingredients, so how exactly rice can be pinpointed as the common factor in so few animals is questionable.

The website in that link is openly anti-commercial pet food too, hence they have excluded such facts from their analysis.

The researchers also draw a conclusion that the ‘monotony’ of the food is the issue. This is both unexplained by the hypothesis and unsupported by the facts. Once again the sample size was far too small to determine this. Plus the rice was likely to all be from the area the study was undertaken, yet they did not appear to actually test the rice for these traces.

I also wasn’t able to locate a clear listing of controlled variables (ie other factors that could have influenced the results).

In the interest of full disclosure I work in the petcare industry.


There are several problems with the study that jump out at me.

One is of the two groups compared one had rice in their diet and the other did not. We are not told what the two diets actually were, how much rice was in the rice diet or anything else about their food. The information about the dog’s diets was supplied by the owners, what they actually ate was unknown and outside the control of the study.

The second is that they go to some trouble to show that the measured level of arsenic in the dog’s hair between the rice an non-rice groups was statistically a significant difference. What that means is they did not think there was much chance the measured difference in arsenic was just by chance. What they did not show is the difference between the two has any significance for the health of the dogs.

The comment about giving your dogs a more varied diet is a complete non sequitur as they did not measure the variety of any of the diets!

So as studies go that might assess the health or otherwise of a diet containing rice this one does not draw any useful conclusion because it didn’t measure health at all.

In the interests of full disclosure I have never worked in the pet food industry but I have observed kelpies eating rice with evident enjoyment. Since the list of what they will eat is extremely long, and includes material best not mentioned in polite company, and the list of what they won’t eat is very short I feel this observation is of no value at all.


This is a good example of ‘Controlled Variables’ that I mentioned. If you want to accurately gauge the impact of rice, you’d keep all other aspects of the diet the same across participants. A good study will have a list of controlled variables that ensures other factors don’t influence the results.


Thank you tpeter267 for your clear and concise comments with regard to this post. Often posts that appear on websites have the ability to cause panic and upset in the community, and your clear conclusions show all of the flaws in the study conducted.
Thank you for posting.

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Thanks syncretic, your Badge of BS Buster is deserved!
Your points mentioned about the study are duly noted, particularly what the study did not show!
Thank you for clearing this matter up and thank you for your wise insights! :wink:

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The same paper also states ‘Albeit statistically significant, the difference in mean iAs level between groups was small and the minimum and maximum values overlapped; thus, the toxicological difference might be small.

So in another words, while the iAs might be statistically higher, there may not be any significant toxicological differences…meaning that while the results look interesting on paper, in the real world they might not really mean much.

This a good point. It appears that ‘The dogs in this study were part of a larger diet intervention study on atopic dermatitis in Staffordshire bull terrier dogs.’ The research undertaken appears to be undertaken as they had access to dogs rather than being set up as a thorough research program.

It is possible that the dogs used for the testing regime have different exposure to natural arsenic, which is present in soil etc.Owners who feed their dogs rice based pet foods may also have different behaviours or beliefs to those that don’t, and their behaviours may result in the dog becoming more exposed to other As sources.

While the information falls into to the interesting category, the rigorousness of testing undertaken may be lacking and further work would need to be don’t before hanging one’s hat on the results.


Here is another interesting thing that has been published about Pet Food…

Human Grade Food vs Feed Grade Pet Food

Would love your thoughts please/
Cheers Nat :wink:


Hi Nat

I suggest you Google the author’s credentials. Short answer; she has none, and appears to be an activist who’s role in life is to disparge pet food manufacturers. She appears to have NO valid scientific evidence to substantiate her campaign, and she discounts views including acedemic research as meaningless or wrong.

If you read the Feb 2020 Catnip, it reads very much like something Choice would publish.

Obviously there are people who support her views, but this does not make her right. This reminds me too much of all the other unscientific soap boxers who claim expert knowledge, are unable to sustantiate their claims, yet disparage anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

The less exposure these sorts are given the better.



"There is a reason diseased, condemned, and/or non-slaughtered animal material is illegal…it is dangerous to consume. "

This is the nub of the question. Who or what is in danger from eating substandard food? Just because food is not up to human safety standards does not make it unsuitable for animals. If you want to treat your fur baby like a child and feed it human grade food go ahead but then you will pay for it - your choice. The fact is that animals are quite capable of eating things that would make you or I very ill. I will speak of dogs as I know more about them.

A while ago my dog was putting on weight and I couldn’t work out why. The short story is he was supplementing his normal rations from a dead cow. He would vanish for half an hour, gorge his fill, come home, sleep and return to the carcase as often as possible. This went on for days until he was visibly gaining weight. I back tracked and found that he was in a revolving queue with other scavengers who were working through the carcass. You could smell it and hear it (blowflies) well before you could see it.

He cleaned out the rabbits on my property, leaving no mess behind whatsoever. They were not slaughtered in hygienic conditions but however he got hold hold of them. He happily ingested (and subsequently eliminated) all the tissue; meat, bones, fur, claws, I mean everything, there was hardly a speck of blood left when he was done. Cleanliness is next to godliness.

I mention this not because I think it is the right way to feed my dog but to show it is possible. I did not encourage this but I could not always prevent it either. He never showed any ill effects from his varied diet (including coprophagia). I did ensure that he was regularly dosed to deal with possible parasites because the alternative was he would have to live on a chain. [Note that prepared dog food cannot transmit such.]

Ok enough revolting stories, the point is it is quite reasonable to have two different standards for food preparation because you have two different sets of risks.


I’m glad my previous analysis helped.

Regarding the second article, let’s look at it in the context of Australia. The following is my opinion based on my experience of the industry and knowing some of the things that happen behind closed doors.

The 7:30 Report has reported on this before. You can read the transcript in that link. There can definitely be contamination in lower quality pet foods. Cheaper foods are more likely to buy from cheaper suppliers. HOWEVER foods claiming to include human grade ingredients may still have recalls or have contamination through non-meat ingredients, so that’s not the only factor. Choice has previously campaigned for regulation

Unfortunately some solutions to this problem have their own problems. DIY diets frequently leave animals short on their nutrients they need or cause hygiene issues. Meanwhile many ‘human grade’ pet foods charge a big premium.

If you’d like to know more, see my breakdown on picking a good pet food here: