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Is Sodium Benzoate Safe For Dogs?

Is Sodium Benzoate Safe For Dogs?

As a responsible dog owner, you have to put the safety of your fur baby before anything else.

Part of it is making sure he eats the right foods.

You obsess over every last ingredient of commercial diets before purchasing them.

Why wouldn’t you?

With all the questionable substances dog manufacturers add to pet food these days, dog parents have to vet everything.

Many dogs have suffered ill effects from eating foods heavy with toxic chemicals. Yours doesn’t need to be one of them.

Commercial dog foods include preservatives to keep them from going bad fast. This only makes sense since food travels long distances before being consumed.

It also allows for bulk shopping of food for pet owners.

 While there are a ton of dog-safe preservatives out there, some are downright harmful to your pooch.

In this post, we shed some light on the safety of sodium benzoate for dogs.

If you’ve been wondering if this preservative is good for your dog or not, you have come to the right place.

What Is Sodium Benzoate?

In simple terms, sodium benzoate is a common preservative used to extend the shelf life of processed foods and beverages.

It is essentially a crystalline odorless powder created by mixing sodium hydroxide and benzoic acid.

The latter is a naturally-occurring substance found in specific spices and fruits.

 Sodium benzoate is also available in low levels in apples, berries, cinnamon, plums, and other natural foods.

However, the sodium benzoate used as a preservative is often manufactured in the lab.

This happens when the proton of the carboxy group of benzoic acid is replaced by a sodium ion.

As a food preservative, sodium benzoate prevents the growth of harmful bacteria, molds, and yeasts.

These microorganisms are responsible for the quick spoilage of food products.

The chemical also maintains the freshness of foods by preventing or slowing down the changes in pH, flavor, color, and texture.

 For beverages, sodium benzoate increases the acidity of the drink thus extending its shelf life.

Besides preserving foods and beverages, the compound can also be used in cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, and toothpaste.

Is Sodium Benzoate Good For Dogs?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is tasked with the responsibility of vetting food products sold to consumers to ascertain if they are safe or not.

Thankfully, sodium benzoate has passed its rigorous checks as it was the first ever food-safe preservative to be given the green light.

The FDA classifies the preservative as “Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)”.

What this means is that experts deem it safe as long as it is used as intended.

Internationally, sodium benzoate is an approved food preservative assigned the identifying number 211. 

For animal feeds, drugs, and related products, the agreeable limit according to the FDA is anything not exceeding 1%.

This level is in accordance with good manufacturing practice (GMP).

With that said, sodium benzoate is not entirely safe as a pet food preservative.

When used alone and in the right concentration, it doesn’t pose any threat to your pooch.

However, things take a bad turn if it is combined with vitamins C and E.

The combination of sodium benzoate and any of the vitamins results in the formation of benzene—a colorless flammable liquid with a pleasant odor.

Sadly, benzene is a dangerous carcinogen.

Studies done on both man and animals have revealed that the chemical triggers leukemia and other blood cell cancers.

It primarily causes changes in the chromosomal makeup of bone marrow cells. Eventually, cancers will develop in these cells.

Anything that aids the growth of cancer is called a carcinogen. Benzene does exactly that.

You may also want to check: Is Potassium Sorbate Safe For Dogs?

The Bottom Line

Sodium benzoate is generally safe if used in the right concentrations as per the guidelines of the FDA. This means >=1%.

When checking ingredients in your dog’s food, you might want to pay attention to this percentage.

 If it goes higher than that, the product may not be safe for your pooch after all.

Dog foods that do not list the concentrations of the different ingredients on their products are probably hiding something.

You can do away with them or try and research more about the concentration of each ingredient.

Most importantly, any dog diet with both sodium benzoate and vitamins C and E is simply unsafe for your pet. That means both citric and ascorbic acids.

 Thankfully, citric acid is in itself toxic to dogs only in large quantities.

Sure, it has benefits for the canine body but if introduced in huge amounts, it can cause depression and problems with the central nervous system.

Certain pet foods utilize citric acid in their formulas for its antioxidant and preservative properties.

 If that’s the case, the food shouldn’t have sodium benzoate in it.

Ascorbic acid, on the other hand, is a good source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient in most commercial pet foods.

 It helps a sick, worn out, or stressed dog repair its cells.

Most of the time, though, dogs produce enough vitamin C on their own and don’t need more of it.

Only the sick and stressed ones may need a boost from time to time.

A specific diet that has any vitamin C in it shouldn’t utilize sodium benzoate in any way.

If it does, benzene will be formed which may trigger cancer in the pet’s body.


Sodium benzoate is a common food preservative in most of the pet foods available in stores.

No doubt, it has been used for centuries if not millennia to keep food fresh for longer periods of time.

The FDA approves its use provided it is used according to the general manufacturing and feeding practices.

Sadly, it can be unsafe if it combines with vitamins C and E or simply citric and ascorbic acids respectively.

 As a pet parent you want to check for two things:

  • The concentration of the sodium benzoate in the specific product. If it is more than 1%, the diet is not safe for your pooch.
  • The presence of citric and ascorbic acids along with the preservative. These mix with the acids to form benzene which is a bad carcinogen.

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