Cancer Related to Certain Preservatives in Dog Food

09/07/2012 09:41 BST | Updated 07/09/2012 10:12 BST

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My first dog, a Border collie died at just nine years old. 'Bru' became tired and ill; we discovered that she was riddled with cancer. We had her put to sleep because that seemed a kinder option than a few more miserable months on drugs, feeling sick and ill. Bru was a sporting and joyful dog, and that's how we wanted her to go out. But I always wondered how such a healthy animal whose father made the Guinness book of records for being the oldest working sheepdog in Scotland, managed to get cancer. Was it something she ate? I couldn't bear to lose another dog too young.

When one of my dogs started to get a rash, I wondered if it could be something in her food. I did some research. Most dog owners would be appalled to hear that preservatives that have been banned in human food by the FDA are still being used in dog food. The FDA has banned preservatives such as

• Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)

• Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

• Propylene glycol

• Ethoxyquin


• Propyl gallate

These commonly used preservatives are, in studies, linked to cancer of the lung and kidney (and BHA is actually listed in some American states as a Carcinogen), yet these are commonly listed ingredients in the food we give our dear dogs. The repeated exposure of these chemicals, which often are a daily diet, are putting our dogs at huge risk.

Of course, preservatives are required to keep dog food from going off, but there are natural options that are made from anti-oxidants, vitamin C or E, and are listed on dog food ingredients as "tocopherol" or "ascorbate".

There are a growing number of dog food companies creating natural dog food that do not contain these harmful chemicals. We have moved on to a popular brand of organic dog food and are pleased with the results. I will certainly be making sure we play it safe and avoid preservatives from now on.