BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are preservatives added to a wide variety of processed foods to keep them from going rancid or changing flavor, odor, and color, especially those foods containing oil or shortening.  Though widely used by food manufacturers, despite the fact that safe alternatives are available, many research studies indicate BHA and BHT are carcinogens. The FDA considers these additives safe, but the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer considers BHA to be a possible carcinogen and it is listed as such by California State.

Studies dating back to 1974 have shown that BHA and BHT increase the risk of cancer, accumulate in body tissue, cause liver enlargement, and can retard the rate of DNA synthesis and cell development. The fact that BHA and BHT accumulate in body tissue is of special significance to the health of our pets since they tend to eat the same diet day after day. Dr. Janet Starr Hull believes that BHA and BHT are unnecessary additives to our food and should be avoided because they may cause cancer. 

In addition to the physical health risks, many animal behaviorists, veterinarians and animal trainers believe there is a direct link between diet and dietary additives and behavioral problems (John Fisher 2003). Though no research studies have been done in this area there is significant anecdotal evidence that this is true in many cases. Writing for MSN Health & Fitness, Jean Weiss includes BHA & BHT as food additives to avoid.

There are several food manufacturers supported by nutritional experts that also believe that pet food should be free of BHA and BHT. As a pet parent it is worth taking a few minutes to educate yourself on what should be in, and what should not be in your pet food.  That way you can purchase the most appropriate pet food for you four legged friend. Watch the short video “Do you really know what’s in your pet’s food?”  Then compare your current food to an alternative premium holistic pet food for dogs and cats.  Your pets will thank you with a healthier, longer life.


Fischer. J 2003 Think Dog Trafalgar Square Publishing Vermont

Starr Hull, Janet. “CSPI Reports Food Additives to Avoid: BHA & BHT” Sourced June 6th 2009.

Weiss, Janet, sourced June 7th 2009