Do preservatives in dog food cause cancer? Good question.
Dog lovers seem to divide themselves into two camps. The first camp says, “Well, whatever. Everything causes cancer. I’m not going to worry about it.”
Camp two says, “I only feed my dog all-natural food or home-made organic meals. We prefer alkaline water and do not feed our dog poison.”
Interesting. Both sides have merit. Camp one’s viewpoint infers that we should perhaps have a critical eye before believing everything and becoming paranoid.
On the other hand, camp two’s perspective reminds us to try to widen back and perceive our carcinogen exposure.
(If you are interested in learning more about quite a number of carcinogens, check out the Dog Cancer Survival Guide.)
So, what about preservatives?
Two biggies that deserves mention are sodium nitrate and nitrite. Sodium nitrite is the pink stuff that one finds in our pink deli meats, ham, hot dogs and so on. It is also used in many different doggy treats and some foods. Sodium nitrate is formed when sodium nitrite reacts with oxygen in the air.
True, they are not carcinogenic. Sitting outside your dog’s body, there is no problem.
However, there is a problem after they are eaten.
These compounds are converted to other substances in the intestine. Our dogs have a normal population of bacteria that live in their intestines, just like we do.
These bacteria are quite helpful. The crowd out disease-causing agents, they help break down certain dietary components, they help with vitamin production and they produce healthy fatty acids, just to name a few benefits.
However, there is a derangement in the normally healthy pathways in the bacteria when you feed your dog nitrates and nitrites.
The bacteria convert these preservatives into N-nitroso compounds. Unlike sodium nitrate and nitrite, the N-nitroso compounds are quite carcinogenic.
It is exposure to carcinogens like these that produces one of the “hits” to your dog’s DNA. After enough of the right “hits”, in the right individual with the right combinations and adequate time, cancer develops.
Take home message? Avoid these preservatives.
Best to all,
Dr. Demian Dressler is internationally recognized as “the dog cancer vet” because of his innovations in the field of dog cancer management, and the popularity of his blog here at Dog Cancer Blog. The owner of South Shore Veterinary Care, a full-service veterinary hospital in Maui, Hawaii, Dr. Dressler studied Animal Physiology and received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of California at Davis before earning his Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University. After practicing at Killewald Animal Hospital in Amherst, New York, he returned to his home state, Hawaii, to practice at the East Honolulu Pet Hospital before heading home to Maui to open his own hospital. Dr. Dressler consults both dog lovers and veterinary professionals, and is sought after as a speaker on topics ranging from the links between lifestyle choices and disease, nutrition and cancer, and animal ethics. His television appearances include “Ask the Vet” segments on local news programs. He is the author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide: Full Spectrum Treatments to Optimize Your Dog’s Life Quality and Longevity. He is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Hawaii Veterinary Medical Association, the American Association of Avian Veterinarians, the National Animal Supplement Council and CORE (Comparative Orthopedic Research Evaluation). He is also an advisory board member for Pacific Primate Sanctuary.