Unless you plan on making your pet food fresh from scratch on a daily basis, packaged pet food must contain some type of preservative in order to retain its freshness and nutritional content. But did you know that not all pet food preservatives are made the same, and that some preservatives don’t necessarily mean poisonous additives? Here's a quick guide for the different types of pet food preservatives available and which ones to look out for and avoid.




Natural Pet Food Preservatives to Look For: 

These natural preservatives have the pet parent stamp of approval. 


Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a nutritious preservatives that can be listed as ‘Ascorbic Acid’ or ‘Citric Acid’. The vitamin preservative is extracted from fresh ingredients such as cranberries, apples, and blueberries. 


Vitamin E

Vitamin E is commonly listed as ‘Mixed Tocopherols’, or listed as a form of antioxidant that slows down fats and fat soluble compounds from going rancid for up to 6 months!


Herbal Extracts

Popular herbal extracts used to preserve dog food are commonly source from rosemary, sage, or clover. These are extracted as oils to naturally preserve pet food and retain moisture, while providing protection for bacterial contamination, all while adding in nourishing earthy herbal flavor!

While natural pet food preservatives are far safer than commercial food preservatives, they do not preserve the shelf life of food as long as chemical preservatives (for good reason!). With this in mind, always be sure to check the ‘best by’ date of your pet food purchases, store food properly with an airtight sealer, and purchase in a quantity that your pet can consume without any excess going rancid.


Pet Food Preservatives to Avoid: 

Long term and accumulated exposure have been strongly linked to these chemical pet food additives. Their known toxicity makes it crucial that all responsible pet parents read pet food labels. If you find the following preservatives listed, it’s best to not purchase it for your furbabies sake.


BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole)

A fat preservative that has been listed as a known carcinogen by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard under ‘chemicals known to cause cancer and/or reproductive toxicity.


BHT (butylated hydroxytolulene)

Also a fat preservative and stabilizer known to cause cancer as well as kidney and liver dysfunction in pets.



A non-regulated FDA preservative and hardening agent linked to causing pet cancer and organ toxicity.


Propylene glycol 

A preservative used to retain the moisture content in pet food. It has been banned by the FDA in cat food due to its effect on giving pet’s blood disease.