Are Preservatives in Pets' Food Products Dangerous?

Pets food is created using different ingredients and preservatives. The preservatives are essential to keep the fats fresh and prevent the formation of mold in the food. The majority of commercial foods contain synthetic preservatives, but there are a few potential problems with the use of chemical preservatives and their impact on the pets’ health. Natural preservatives may be a solution and these have no side effects on the pets’ health. However natural preservatives can also present a set of problems.

Types of Synthetic Preservatives

There are several types of synthetic preservatives including the BHT, BHA and the ethoxyquin. These preservatives prevent the pet food from going bad but may also be used to stabilize rubber items such as tires.

These synthetic preservatives used in pet foods have been linked to fatal forms of cancer. In addition, the BHT and BHA may also cause skin problems and indigestion; however, there are no sufficient studies to demonstrate the potential health problems caused by the synthetic preservatives. As a preventive measure, the FDA only allows small amounts of BHT and BHA to be used in pet food and this is believed to reduce the potential negative impact of the synthetic preservatives on the pets’ health.

The ethoxyquin has been associated with liver disease and liver failure in pets that have eaten solely dry foods containing ethoxyquin.  Consequently, the FDA lowered the allowed amounts of ethoxyquin in the 70s; however, some vets think that ethoxyquin should be completely eliminated from pet foods.

Natural Preservatives

More recently, pet food manufacturers have found natural alternatives for preservatives; these natural preservatives have the same properties as the synthetic preservatives preventing the food from going bad. The most common natural preservatives include vitamin E (look for mixed tocopherol on the food labels), vitamin C, antioxidants as well as extracts from the rosemary plant.

The main downside of the natural preservatives is that the products will have a shorter shelf life; once a bag of dry food is opened, it should be eaten within 30 days; otherwise the food will go bad. The food may also lose its freshness if it isn’t kept in the refrigerator. It is important to use the food by the expiry date printed on the package; otherwise, the food may cause digestive problems or allergies in your pet.

In addition, the pet foods containing natural preservatives may be more expensive.

However, considering that synthetic preservatives are carcinogens and may also cause other health problems in your pet, opting for more quality foods may improve your pet’s life quality and health. Always check the ingredients listed on the package and make sure to use the food before the expiry date.

Avoid over processed foods, which may also be a health hazard for pets.

Don’t just buy products that are advertised as natural or holistic; these products may contain synthetic and processed ingredients, food dyes and other preservatives. Always read the label of the food you purchase.