Victor Dog Food Causing Liver Failure in Dogs: Is It True?

  • By: Andrew
  • Time to read: 13 min.

Victor Pet Food promotes its products as “super-premium” and boasts about its ingredient quality and sourcing. However, a few ingredients are listed in their dog foods that make some owners cock their heads. Claims even go so far as to accuse Victor Dog Food of causing liver failure in dogs, but is it true?

It is not true that Victor Dog Food will cause liver failure in dogs. As a relatively small family business, Victor is able to source local ingredients for better quality, and formulations contain specialized mineral complexes for complete and balanced nutrition for your dog.

The following article will discuss the connection between dog food ingredients and liver failure in dogs and take a more in-depth look at Victor–a company with an upstanding reputation–and perhaps why its dog food is rumored to cause health problems in dogs. You’ll learn the harmful ingredients in dog food that should be avoided, as well as some common signs to look for in your dog that may indicate liver failure.

Pet Food for Thought

The pet food manufacturing industry was born in the 1940s and started producing nutritional animal feed for livestock. While manufacturing began in both the U.S. and Europe, it has since expanded to include most developed countries all around the world–perhaps a testament to how dedicated we all are to those adorable fuzzballs we’ve domesticated.

As demand for manufactured pet food went up throughout the decades, and the relationship between owners and their pets grew closer, manufacturers attempted to win more customers by developing products that appealed more to the senses. Shapes became more alluring and coloring more vibrant. Vitamin and mineral supplements allowed claims of better nutritional value, and added flavorings kept pets eating happily.

Some of these flavoring additives have come to include many harmful ingredients to your pet and addictive, making switching foods a much more complicated process. Additives include MSG (often listed as hydrolyzed protein), table salt, table sugar, and propylene glycol (a sweet-tasting derivative of antifreeze), to name a few.

As more and more consumers, veterinarians, and pet lovers, in general, started to speak out against these additives and harmful pet food ingredients, it created an opportunity for entrepreneurs to enter the pet food market with competing products that use quality ingredients free-from preservatives and fillers. However, the problem with the pet food manufacturing industry as a whole is that it manufactures food.

Processed Foods: A Balancing Act

Most pet foods are made with core ingredients that have good nutritional value, and formulations are created to provide a complete and balanced diet all inside one product.

This is often appealing to owners as it offers an easy way to provide your pet with all the nutrition they need to live a healthy life.

The idea isn’t bad, and it can be compared to feeding a human infant with breastmilk, in that one source offers complete nutrition for a lengthy period of time. But that also means that if the manufacturing source is compromised (Mom consumes alcohol, for example), then the food supply is tainted. And when your pet is only consuming a single food product for all of their dietary needs, they are also consistently consuming potential harmful contaminants.

Scrupulous reviews of pet food industry safety records have found control issues that result in some severe food hazards. Specifically, it was found that only a handful of risks were responsible for most of the health-related incidents occurring in pets today. Those hazards were determined to be:

  • Aflatoxin
  • Salmonella
  • Traces of veterinary drugs
  • Traces of inorganic nitrogen sources (e.g., chemical fertilizers)
  • Traces of heavy metals
  • Poor nutrition formulations

Furthermore, most of these hazards are sourced to the raw material supply that pet food companies receive. The product is rendered from all sorts of “animal leftovers,” including dead zoo animals, roadkill, slaughterhouse remains, and even euthanized animals from clinics.

Raw material manufacturers don’t exactly have effective control points in food safety management practices as the terms and definitions that define such are pretty vague in that industry. This forces the pet food companies to accept a “trust but verify” policy in risk assessment and create HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) plans.

In other words, pet food companies know there is a potential risk in their raw material supply because they know their source is questionable. So they identify all the possible risks and actively work to control them.

For example, facilities producing low moisture pet foods require Salmonella-control procedures to combat the possibility of an outbreak tainting the product. But as we’ve seen, these practices are far from perfect, as time and time again, the same contaminants are found.

How Dog Foods May Cause Liver Failure

Beyond the raw material risks, many pet food companies use some questionable ingredients in their products to preserve, color, thicken, flavor, or hold moisture in them. There are several in many pet foods that have tested as being less than desirable, that’s for sure. And as we discussed, many are addictive and/or can lead to many health issues, including liver failure.

What’s worse is that many of these ingredients are quite common in the pet food manufacturing industry as a whole and are used frequently. As a consumer, it is vital to educate yourself on what to avoid when choosing your dog’s food.

And the truth is that many of these undesired add-ins and their side effects are the same for people when it comes to canned, frozen, and other processed foods. So if you or your pet are going to eat processed food, at the very least, you should know the potential harm it could cause.

Ingredients in Dog Food Linked to Health Issues

While there are many more things found in some products that should be avoided, there are some common offenders to be wary of, including:

  • BTA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
  • BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
  • Fish Meal (may be listed as Ethoxyquin)
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Carrageenan
  • Chemical coloring agents/food dyes
  • Excessive starches and sugars (e.g., wheat or corn)
  • Synthetic Vitamin K (aka Menadione Sodium Bisulfite)

But it’s not just these ingredients that are the problem. The main ingredients made from byproducts can include disturbing things you would not choose to feed your dog, even though the AAFCO deems them acceptable. Furthermore, the extrusion process in pet food manufacturing assists in wreaking nutritional havoc, as a high starch content is needed for the process to be effective and successful.

Finding Balance in Your Dog’s Diet

No matter what food your dog eats, if it is processed, then liver disease or other health issues is a possibility. (Let’s face it, we are creating food in labs and factories instead of getting it straight from nature.) You may want to consider freeze-dried food or even a raw diet to avoid preservatives and additives altogether.

But even if processed options aren’t ideal, that doesn’t mean they can’t be done ideally. Some companies, like Victor, do have a genuine concern for a quality product that will benefit your dog’s health. So if you are going to feed your dog processed food, you’ll want to consider changing it to something like Victor brand to lessen the risk of adverse health effects, as they are as high-quality and “super-premium” as it gets.

Victor Pet Food

Victor brand pet food has been around since the beginning. They built their vision of a manufacturing facility in Texas back in the 1940s with a commitment to “do things the right way.” They originally manufactured high nutrient animal feed, expanded to produce cat food, and it wasn’t until 2007 that they started manufacturing their Victor Dog Food labels.

The Superior Choice

Victor’s self-proclaimed reputation as a “super-premium” pet food company has held for over 70 years. It has been backed by positive reviews from their loyal customers and notable critics, including the highly respected independent reviewer Dog Food Advisor. They are steadfast and unwavering in their commitment to providing high-quality nutrition for your pet by producing the best food available.

Victor carefully selects ingredients to ensure quality formulas that are fresh and loaded with nutrition. The complete ingredient list for all their formulas is listed on their website (see the list for a top-selling formula here), and in reading through them, you may notice some common ingredients–which is not just a coincidence.

Victor Dog Food Core Ingredients

Ingredients for pet food formulations are used for six general reasons; they may be chosen for nutrient content, digestibility, palatability, functionality, availability, and/or cost. Unfortunately, it often benefits many companies financially to make decisions based on functionality, availability, and cost rather than nutrition.

However, Victor has high standards of nutrition. They refuse to compromise. They teamed with the top ingredient producers to create formulas made specifically to provide significant nutritional benefits for all kinds of dogs. From this emerged the Victor Core Ingredients–four essential ingredients in every formula that have been proven to help improve and maintain dog health.

Selenium Yeast

Some people may mistake this ingredient as a negative because they have heard selenium compounds like salt are toxic and can be harmful if ingested in large quantities. This is true, and indeed there is much about the role of selenium in the diet of mammals as a whole still is a little perplexing, as outcomes vary widely, and several active variables exist.

However, it has been determined that selenium yeast improves antioxidation functions and general well-being in some animals and boosts dogs’ immune systems. Recent studies suggest organically bound selenium in a mammal’s diet might even aid in cancer prevention.

Victor Dog Food uses selenium yeast to offer support to your dog’s metabolism, cellular regeneration, and immune system.

Mineral Complexes

The processes involved in making pet food oftentimes will compromise the nutritional value of the foods used, which requires that supplemental vitamins and minerals be added to food formulas to counteract this effect.

Victor Dog Food contains complexes made with zinc, manganese, and iron, which feed the cells to promote proper cell division and synthesis functions in your dog, essential for joint cartilage and bone health. Furthermore, they promote a properly functioning metabolism, a strong immune system, a healthy coat, skin, and paw pads.

Prebiotics & Probiotics

The benefits of prebiotics in both people and animals are well established. They help suppress and weaken disease-causing pathogens and strengthen and encourage the growth of the good bacteria in the gut. Current studies are focused on expanding the use of prebiotics in food to replace fat and sugar, improve texture and mouthfeel, and several other possibilities.

Probiotics are often used in fermenting dairy, such as yogurt. (Though you shouldn’t give yogurt to your dog.) They are extremely beneficial to the intestinal tract and assist in an enhancement of the immune system. Similar benefits are seen when foods are supplemented with either prebiotics or probiotics. It has been suggested that when used together, they work as a team, and each is more effective.

The prebiotics and probiotics in Victor Dog food are part of what makes their formulas “super-premium,” as these additions are why any processed pet food has any health benefits at all. Many of these ingredients are usually listed as various “yeast” cultures. These bioactive compounds contain hundreds of metabolites that aid in a healthy metabolism, proper digestion, strong immune system, and general well-being.

The Questionable Ingredients in Victor Dog Food

Powdered Cellulose

You may have seen this ingredient listed on a bag of shredded cheese. It is used to prevent the cheese from clumping, and pet food manufacturers use it for the same reason. However, the quality of powdered cellulose that goes into human food is far superior to the recycled-leftover version that ends up in our pet’s foods.

In the same way the meat byproducts are rendered from leftovers, powdered cellulose used in pet food is a collection of remnant materials comparable to sawdust by the time it reaches the factory. It is still a form of fiber and will help produce a firm stool, but the inferior quality may cause inflammation or other issues. An ingredient like this is often chosen specifically to help cover up diarrheal effects that other ingredients may cause.

Brewer’s Yeast

Yes, we just discussed how yeasts provide prebiotic and probiotic benefits in dog food, and specific pet studies have proven this in some cases. However, an ingredient will often be chosen for pet food based on results from studies with people–or common lab animals such as rats–but may not necessarily be true for our domesticated furry friends.

This then creates a loophole that allows pet food manufacturers to “stretch logic” to promote specific benefits to your pet (like flea protection). Several such claims are later shown to be untrue or inconclusive in testing. Additionally, some yeasts appear to offer no nutritional benefit or positive health effects. Instead, they are used to provide better nutrition levels in their product.

In other words, the yeasts may add to total protein count, for example, but these additions are deceiving as the product will appear to have more nutritional value than it actually does. This is similar to how something can claim it is “sugar-free” but uses a sugar substitute instead. While it is true that no sugar was used, a chemical compound that acts like sugar was used, thereby changing nothing nutritionally, and now is offering something synthetically instead of naturally.

Brewer’s yeast tends to fall under this kind of scrutiny. It is commonly used in many dog foods as a source of B-vitamins and to increase dry food palatability. However, experimental dog foods in the 1950s containing these yeasts caused black-tongue disease. They proved that if other ingredients in the foods are a sufficient source of B-vitamins, these yeasts are not needed for their supplementary value.

Tomato Pomace

Considered a low-grade ingredient by some, this is the leftovers from tomato processing (skins, seeds, and pulp). While this ingredient isn’t harmful, it isn’t precisely providing nutritional value either. It is generally promoted as a source of fiber, but it is used as a filler in actuality. A food that is excessive with fillers will be lacking in nutrition.

The Good in Victor Dog Food Outweighs the Bad

The higher quality ingredients and specific mineral complexes in Victor Dog Food do contribute to a superior nutritional value compared to other brands. Also, they use far fewer fillers and neutral-nutrition ingredients than the competition. From sourcing to packaging, this company is certainly doing everything they can to bring you the best pet food possible.

Signs Your Dog May Be Suffering From Liver Disease

If you are concerned about your dog’s health, you must do your due diligence in providing proper nutrition, which will significantly lower the potential health risks related to poor diet. But it’s also good to know signs you can look for in your dog that may suggest liver disease so you can have your dog checked out before it’s too late.

Diseases of the liver usually come in stages. Symptoms will vary between stages and can be different for every dog. It’s possible, depending on your dog’s genetics, for example, or if the disease is in an early stage, that some dogs show no signs of having a problem at all. Symptoms that appear are vague, as they are signs for a long list of possible issues your dog may be having, and a professional diagnosis is required to know if it’s liver disease.

Some signs to look out for include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Increased thirst or urination
  • Jaundice
  • Unsteady walk
  • Excessive drooling
  • Confusion
  • Personality changes


While many pet food companies use concerning and harmful ingredients in their products, Victor Pet Food stands out as an upstanding company dedicated to higher quality pet food for your pets. In general, processed and manufactured foods will bring some degree of risk for health-related issues. Still, Victor Dog Food not only has the lowest risk of adverse effects, but it is also one of the best single source nutritional foods available for your dog.