What You Need to Know About Preservatives in Dog Food

Synthetic Preservatives
spotify badge

Synthetic preservatives in dog food are something that should be a concern in many cases. They are applied to the food’s exterior to prevent spoilage, staining, or contamination by bacteria and other disease-causing organisms.

They are different than methods like freezing, fermenting, pickling, curing, and canning that preserve food naturally.

Natural Preservatives in Dog Food

Although these aren’t often found in abundance, if at all, there are two natural preservatives that can be found in commercial dog food.


To stop the oxidation of lipids and the deterioration of water-soluble nutrients, antioxidants are utilized as preservatives in shelf-stable meals. Artificial antioxidants have received little research on their potential toxicity and may even cause cancer, hence natural antioxidants are preferred. A family of substances known as tocopherols is made up of several vitamin E forms.

The desired form is alpha-tocopherols, and human vitamin E supplementation can only contain this type. Almonds and sunflower seeds are two examples of nuts and seeds that naturally contain alpha-tocopherols. However, mixed tocopherols are also included as a preservative on food labels. These are a mixture of tocopherols in the alpha, beta, delta, and gamma positions. Vegetable oils as well as grains, seeds, and nuts contain mixed tocopherols. Vegetable fats and oils, dairy products, meat, eggs, cereals, and nuts all contain tocopherols.

On labels, synthetic tocopherols are typically identified as dl-alpha tocopherol. Avoid using this because it is made from petroleum-based materials. Additionally, it is not as effective as natural tocopherols as a preservative.

Rosemary Oil

Rosemary oil is an oil soluble natural preservative used to preserve fats. 

Synthetic Preservatives In Dog Food

Here’s where the danger comes in; synthetic preservatives in dog food. And, there are quite a few!

preservatives in dog food
Synthetic Preservatives in Dog Food


Water-soluble antioxidants called ascorbates are utilized to keep proteins and carbohydrates fresh. One of them is designated as ascorbic acid. This is vitamin C in chemical form. It’s used to stop food from browning in the presence of oxygen, notably meat and fruit.

BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole): 

Precancerous cells in the stomach, stunted growth, behavioral consequences, and higher offspring mortality rates have all been linked to BHA. It is also regarded as a disruptor of hormones. In food, food packaging, and animal feed, including dog food, BHA is used as an antioxidant and preservative.

BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)

BHT is a hepatotoxin that can cause hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer). Hormone disruptor. BHT preserves fats, color, texture, and oils. It’s a processed-food antioxidant.

Benzoic Acid, Sodium Benzoate 

Genotoxic? These substances can harm cell DNA, create mutations, and cause cancer. Itchy, irritated skin can result. They’re used as an antimicrobial food preservative.


Another liver-damaging hepatotoxin. It’s used in some pet foods to reduce the development of rancid fats.

Propyl Gallate

This could affect hormones and cause cancer. It’s a synthetic antioxidant used in oils and fats.

Propylene Glycol

This has caused cat anemia, allergies, and immunotoxicity and is banned in cat foods. It preserves moisture and dissolves colors and flavors. Antifreeze and industrial items contain it.

TBHQ (Tert-butylhydroquinone)

NLM found TBHQ causes liver enlargement, neurotoxicity, convulsions, and paralysis in lab animals. However, it is used to prevent rancidity and extend shelf life in pet foods.

Of course, the best way to avoid synthetic and artificial preservatives and chemicals in dog food is to feed your dog a fresh, whole food, raw meat diet. You’ll avoid commercial goods that use chemicals to extend shelf life.

Read more:

Identification of xenoestrogens in food additives by an integrated in silico and in vitro approach

Center for Science in the Public Interest. TBHQ (tert-butylhydroquinone).

Environmental Working Group

Effects of butylated hydroxyanisole on the development and functions of reproductive system in rats

Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of BHT (E 321) as a food additive

Published by Amber L. Drake

Dr. Amber L. Drake is a celebrated author and a distinguished cancer specialist, renowned for her comprehensive research in canine cancer prevention and nutrition. She is widely recognized for her commitment to helping dogs lead long and joyful lives, as well as for her contributions to veterinary medicine education. As the CEO of Canine Companions Co., the Founder of the Drake Dog Cancer Foundation and Academy, and the Co-Founder of Preferable Pups, she has become a respected and influential figure in the canine community, earning the admiration and respect of dog enthusiasts around the globe.

2 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About Preservatives in Dog Food

Leave a Reply