Additives Used In Pet Foods, Supplements and Treats

Here you will find a reference list of some of the common additives used in pet foods, supplements and treats (there are I believe over 4000).

As a holistic vet I strongly believe that we should be feeding our pets a balanced diet of biologically appropriate, nutritious, healthy and wholesome products, rich in health-promoting nutrients derived from natural sources - primarily whole foods and whole food extracts.

Many of the additives or synthetic 'nutrients' that go into edible products for pets, have little or no nutritional value, are of questionable safety, and are best avoided whenever possible, for the reasons outlined here.

If you are interested in exploring the subject of dog and cat nutrition further, and the ramifications of choosing different types of product, please visit our blog. 




It is important to be aware, that many pet foods, supplements and treats described as 100% 'pure' ‘natural’, ‘healthy’ ‘holistic’, ‘powered by Nature’, ‘naturally powered’, 'wholesome', 'nutritious' and ‘organic’ can still contain additives.  Look closely and you will find that most do.

The use of these descriptive terms does NOT therefore, guarantee that a product is completely additive free, or made entirely from nutritious, natural ingredients.

If you see a small addendum alongside phrases such as 'natural ingredients', which says 'plus' or 'added' vitamins... minerals... trace elements... amino acids' etc. they are referring to synthetic additives.

Products may state that they contain no artificial colourings, flavourings, or preservatives, but may still contain other additives, such as the synthetic 'nutrients' listed below, along with various fillers, binders, lubricants, glues and gelling agents etc.

As a general rule of thumb, individually named 'nutrients' are synthetic, as are those with chemical names.  

There is only one way to determine if a product is as good as you want it to be for your pet - and that's to scrutinise the additives on a label carefully.





Titanium oxide


Fillers (Bulking Agents)

(These are indigestible to dogs and cats, and so go in one end and out the other.)

Cellulose (plant cell walls)

Silica (mainly found in rocks and sand)

Silicon dioxide (mainly found in rocks and sand)

Microcrystalline cellulose (plant cell walls)


Gelling Agents

Cassia Gum



Magnesium stearate

Stearic acid



Butylated hydroxyanilose (BHA)

Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)

Calcium Propionate


Sodium benzoate (can convert to benzene, a known carcinogen)


Synthetic Amino Acids




Lysine Hydrochloride




Synthetic Minerals And Trace Elements

Basic Cobaltous Carbonate Monohydrate


Calcium Carbonate

Calcium Iodate Anhydrous

Cupric Chelate of Amino Acids Hydrate

Cupric Sulphate Pentahydrate

Calcium Pantothenate

Ferrous Chelate of Amino Acids Hydrate

Ferrous Sulphate Monohydrate

Iron Sulfate

Manganese Chelate of Amino Acids Hydrate


Manganese Oxide

Manganous Sulphate Monohydrate

Monodicalcium Phosphate


Potassium Chloride

Potassium Iodide


Sodium Chloride

Sodium Hexametaphosphate

Sodium Selenite

Zinc Chelate of Amino Acids Hydrate

Zinc Oxide

Zinc Sulphate Monohydrate


Synthetic Vitamins



Folic Acid



Vitamin A (as retinyl acetate)

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B2

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B12

Vitamin C

Vitamin C Monophosphate

Vitamin D3 Supplement

Vitamin E

Vitamin D3 (as cholecalciferol)

Vitamin E (as alpha tocopherol acetate)

Vitamin K


Unethical Products

Chondrotin from battery chickens or sharks


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