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Additives in Pet Food

BHA and BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole, Butylated Hydroxytoluene)

Testing of rats showed that BHA and BHT (additives used in many pet foods) inhibited growth, caused weight loss, damaged the liver, kidneys and testicles, caused the rat to go bald, and elevated the blood cholesterol levels. It also caused their offspring to be born without eyes, and there were indications of brain defects. These two related preservatives are further suspected of causing cancer and allergic reactions.

In addition, studies have revealed that BHT accumulates in human fat tissue at a far greater concentration than it does in the fatty tissue of rats. The sudden loss of body fat due to dieting, and illness, can result in the releasing of this substance in toxic amounts. It may interest you to know that the test animal in an Australian study (which suffered similar effects as the above) were fed levels of 0.1% of BHA and BHT and that would correspond to or be lower than, levels permitted by the Canadian Government in some products.

For example, in Canada, in essential oils, citrus oil flavors and dry flavors manufacturers are permitted to use levels up to 0.125% (higher than the levels fed to the rats). In citrus oils, levels are permitted up to 0.5% (Canadian Food and Drugs Act. Table XI. Part IV.)

BHA and BHT have also been proven to contribute to hyperactivity in some children. Experiments at Concordia University in Montreal on pregnant mice revealed that their offspring had abnormal brains and abnormal behavior patterns. The behavioral changes were: increased exploration, sleeplessness, poor grooming habits, decreased reflexes, aggression and severe learning problems. Dr. Bernard Weiss, of the University of Rochester's School of Medicine, is especially concerned with the behavioral problems cited by numerous other research projects. He feels that government should test additives not only for physical damage, but also for behavioral effects.

BHA and BHT can be used in:

  • Fats, oils, lard, mono-and diglycerides, shortening

  • Dried breakfast cereals

  • Dehydrated potato products (chips, etc.)

  • Chewing gum essential oils

  • Citrus oil flavors and dry flavors

  • Partially de-fatted pork and beef fatty tissue

  • Vitamin A liquids for addition to food

  • Margarine

  • Dry vitamin D preparations for addition to foods and certain non-standardized foods as preservatives.


Consumers can be misled by the term "BHA or BHT in packaging only" or box tops, as they may not realize that the chemicals do migrate onto the food itself. Since many food producers do not use the additives and still produce a good tasting, nutritious and economical product, it is clear that BHA and BHT are nonessential and do not benefit the consumer.

The consumer would be wise to buy an alternative product and refrain from purchasing any foods which contain these additives. The government has been remiss in not demanding lifetime studies on a variety of species on this and many other potentially toxic chemicals. BHT has been banned for use in food in England, Romania, Sweden and Australia. In our opinion, additives which are banned in one or more countries due to adverse test results should automatically be banned in everywhere.

IMPORTANT!  The recommendations in this article are general suggestions for treating your pet naturally.  It is important to look at each pet individually and determine what works best for YOUR pet. 

I would highly consider a phone consultation.  A consultation will include a personalized diet and holistic program suggestions, all custom-tailored to your pet's personal needs. This is particularly imperative in pets with complicated health issues, or if you've done outside reading and have conflicting information.

Contact For Pet Health today and get your loved one on the path to good health.  

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