What Is Guar Gum?
Guar Gum is a processed ingredient derived from Guar Beans, which are also known as the Indian Cluster Bean. Guar Beans look very similar to Green Beans and are the seeds of the Cyamopsis Tetragonoloba tree that is most commonly found in countries like Pakistan and India.
These Guar Beans are processed at an industrial scale into a powder-like substance which is very similar to flour. However, this flour is not at all like flour from grains and is instead a thickener, emulsifier, or firming agent.
This Guar Gum powder is then used in a huge range of manufactured food products such as baked goods, cereals, dairy products, jams, sauces, and most importantly, pet food.
Guar Gum has an earthy smell and taste when in this powder form but becomes quite neutral in taste and smell once mixed with other ingredients, which is why it is so commonly found in processed foods.
Why Is Guar Gum Used In Pet Food?
Guar Gum is a common sight in wet/canned pet food recipes as a minor ingredient. Its purpose in these recipes is to act as a binding or thickening agent.
Thickening agents such as Guar Gum are a crucial component of wet/canned pet food recipes as they help the food form into a consistent texture and appearance, and they ensure that the individual ingredients do not separate from one another.
Without the presence of binding agents like Guar Gum, wet pet food can be quite unpleasant to eat or taste for many pets.
This can be especially true of foods produced at a large scale as it can cause different cans of food to contain different portions of ingredients, such as some with lots of vegetables and others with lots of meat ingredients.
While all of these ingredients see widespread use in wet pet food recipes, some brands may choose to use Guar Gum as it is seen less negatively than others or because it is easier to source.
Is Guar Gum Bad For Pets?
While there is mixed information available online regarding Guar Gum, it is likely that most pet food that contains Guar Gum is unlikely to have any noticeable adverse effects on dogs or cats.
Because Guar Gum is so common in food for human consumption, it is has been studied in-depth and has been shown to actually provide some very minor health benefits such as lower cholesterol and increased glucose tolerance.
Sadly, some of these potential benefits may not apply to pets, and some believe that consistent consumption of Guar Gum could cause some negative health effects in cats, such as increased hairball formation and bile secretions.
However, similar to other thickening agents like Carageenan, there are some well-documented mild side effects that are seen in higher or sustained use, such as Gastric Pain, diarrhea, and loose stools.
This is compounded by the fact that Guar Gum is usually found in higher quantities in wet/canned pet food recipes than other binding agents.
However, when we say higher quantities, we mean something along the lines of 1% compared to 0.2%, which means it is still a relatively small portion compared to a recipe’s core ingredients.
Lastly, there is also some evidence that the presence of Guar Gum in pet food recipes can actually decrease protein digestibility which is a concerning trait given the importance of protein for both dogs and cats.
Pet Food Brands That Use Guar Gum
Given its popularity, there is a very large number of pet food brands that utilize small portions of Guar Gum in their recipes. Many of these are well-known brands that would be recognized on the shelves of your local pet food or grocery store.
You can see an example of this below in the ingredient list of Blue Buffalo’s Homestyle Chicken Dinner With Garden Vegetables Dog Food recipe. Here Guar Gum is present alongside smaller portions of Carrageenan and Cassia Gum.
Some of the other thickening agents, such as Carrageenan, have seen a decrease in use in the past few years, but it does not appear from our research that Guar Gum has decreased in popularity.
The fact that some of the largest pet food brands in the world, such as Purina, and Hill’s Science Diet, are continuing their use of Guar Gum shows it is likely here to stay.
If you are looking to avoid Guar Gum, we would recommend closely inspecting the ingredient list of any pet food recipes you are considering and if you aren’t able to find any wet foods without Guar Gum, consider the use of a dry dog food recipe as these would not contain Guar Gum or other thickening agents.