Sodium Bisulfate: It Might Burn Your Pet's Mouth, Throat, and Stomach - But They're Adding It to Food Anyway
June 28, 2013
By Dr. Becker
Anticipated regulations from the Food Safety Modernization Act will affect pet food production. According to PetfoodIndustry.com, as a result, product safety has jumped to the top of the priority list for pet food manufacturers.
One of the primary concerns, especially with the rash of recalls over the last few years, is that humans are being exposed to salmonella bacteria from processed pet food – in particular, dry food.
Pet food producers are implementing a variety of tactics to control salmonella contamination, including more vendor inspections, hazard analysis and critical control point plans, and hold-and-release programs. As you might expect, additives are also being looked at for their ability to control salmonella. One of those substances is sodium bisulfate.
A producer of sodium bisulfate and scientists at Kansas State University are collaborating to study the ability of this substance to prevent recontamination by salmonella after the pet food extrusion process.
Adding Sodium Bisulfate to Kibble May Help Control Salmonella Contamination
Sodium bisulfate is not to be confused with menadione sodium bisulfate, which is synthetic vitamin K3. It should also not be confused with sodium bisulfite, which is a chemical preservative used in fruits and wines.
Sodium bisulfate, also known as sodium hydrogen sulfate, is an acid salt. Its primary function is acidification. It is currently used in some processed pet foods to acidify urine, reduce pH levels, and control microbes in soft treats and liquid digest. But according to PetfoodIndustry.com, “New research conducted at independent laboratories indicates that sodium bisulfate controls Salmonella contamination on the surface of extruded dry petfood.”
Dry pet food is heat-treated twice – once during pre-conditioning and again during extrusion. The very high temperatures used in these processing steps should kill the salmonella present in the food. It is therefore suspected recontamination occurs primarily after the food is extruded – possibly inside the conveying system or from airborne dust in air-handling systems.
If either of those sources of contamination is the cause, it’s assumed the salmonella is only on the outside of the kibble. This is where sodium bisulfate comes in. It is a “surface-active” compound that is highly acidic and in a physically dry state. This means it can be turned into a powder and applied to the surface of kibble for purposes of salmonella control.
And Now for the Bad News…
The good news is pet food companies are actively searching for ways to reduce human exposure to salmonella bacteria in their products.
The bad news? Adding a substance like sodium bisulfate to dry pet food is a little like putting lipstick on a pig (no offense to pigs). The pig may look more attractive. It may not even look like a pig from certain angles, but it’s still a pig. Salmonella-free kibble is still kibble – highly processed, double heat-treated pet food that lacks moisture and other nutrients that can only be obtained from fresh, whole, real food.
In addition, you should know that sodium bisulfate isn’t an entirely benign additive. According to MedlinePlus, in humans, symptoms from swallowing more than a tablespoon of this acid can include burning pain in the mouth, diarrhea, vomiting, and severe low blood pressure.
Sodium bisulfate is produced in a “pet grade” as well as a technical grade. I wasn’t able to find a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on the pet grade product, but the MSDS on the technical grade product states that inhalation of the substance damages the mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract. Sodium bisulfate is classified as a corrosive, so swallowing it can cause severe, even fatal burns to the mouth, throat and stomach; touching it can cause severe skin burns. Chronic exposure can result in lung irritation, tracheal bronchitis, persistent coughing, and corrosion of teeth.
The danger of salmonella poisoning from pet food is a risk to the humans serving the food – not the dogs or cats eating it. Healthy pets are able to handle a much higher bacterial load than their owners. It’s important to understand that distinction.
If you feed your pet kibble (which I don't recommend), the following simple handling precautions should keep you and your family safe from contamination:
· Wash your hands thoroughly after handling any pet food or treats.
· Don't allow very young children, elderly people or those who are immunocompromised to handle pet food or treats.
· Keep all pet foods and treats away from your family's food.
· Do not prepare pet foods in the same area or with the same equipment/utensils you use to prepare human foods.
· Do not allow pets on countertops or other areas where human food is prepared.
· Feeding pets in the kitchen has been identified as a source of infection. If you can arrange to feed your pet in an area other than your kitchen, consider doing so. Alternatively, feed your pet as far away from human food preparation areas as possible.
I don’t recommend feeding your dog or cat a commercial pet food with special additives designed to control salmonella. I’m an advocate of wholesome, natural diets for pets (and people). I’m not in favor of chemicals added to food. And I certainly don’t recommend feeding your pet or any pet a highly processed, preserved kibble dusted with a potentially corrosive substance.
This article is from Dr. Becker’s free newsletter @
I get Dr. Karen Becker's newsletter because she has very informative information in it. I love my pets and I am constantly researching information for their health and safety. I will post anything that I find alarming that I feel pet owners should be informed about.
Dog flea Spray
This is made with plant extract oils with castor oil and warm water as a carrier.
You can use melaleuca, lavender, eucalyptus, or citronella oil—10 drops/each of all or any of the oils.
Mix the oils with 1 cup of warm water and 1 Tablespoon of castor oil. This makes about 1 cup so you can double the amounts for more. Mix and store in a spray bottle.
Shake the mixture and spray on the animal. I used a combination of melaleuca, lavender and eucalyptus oils for some dogs don’t like the smell of citronella oil.
I have used this for other small bugs also.
The supplement CoQ10 is also good for building the dog’s immune system to prevent the fleas from wanting to attack the animal. Usually the animal is affected by the flea bites when their immune system is weakened. The bite can cause the animal to lick or bite the area to cause a "hot spot". There is a product sold online or in pet stores called Vetrycin that can help calm the hot spot. Aloe Vera gel from the plant can also help hot spots. The Aloe Vera plant should be freshly cut to get the gel at each application.
Two Common Household Objects That Can Poison Your Pet
June 21, 2013 | By Dr. Becker
According to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, more than 180,000 pets were exposed to potentially toxic substances in 2012. And for the fifth year running, topping the list are prescription human medications.
Top 10 Pet Poisons in 2012
· Prescription medications (for humans). The Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) fielded 25,000 human prescription drug poisoning calls in 2012. The top three culprits were blood pressure pills, antidepressants, and painkillers (opioids and prescription NSAIDs). The most common scenario: a pet owner drops a pill on the floor and the dog grabs it right up.
· Insecticides. While only 11 percent of calls to the APCC were for insecticide poisoning, over half of all calls involving cats are related to insecticides. The APCC advises pet owners to always read the label before applying any insecticide directly on your pet, in your home, or in your yard.
· Over-the-counter medications (for humans). These drugs accounted for more than 18,000 calls to the APCC in 2012. Medications included acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen, as well as herbal and other types of supplements (for example, fish oil). Many of these products smell or taste yummy to pets.
· Veterinary products and medications. These products accounted for about six percent of poisoning calls in 2012. Flavored pills and liquids make it easier to give supplements and medications, but it also makes them more enticing to pets.
· Household products. This category includes everything from logs for the fireplace to cleaning agents, and accounted for more than 10,000 calls to the APCC last year.
· People food. Over five percent of 2012 cases reported to the APCC concerned pets ingesting people food. One particularly problematic substance is xylitol, a sugar substitute that is highly toxic to dogs.
· Chocolate. Chocolate remains the number one toxic people food pets ingest – the APCC received over 8,500 calls last year for just this one substance.
· Plants. The APCC received over 7,000 calls about animals eating potentially toxic plants. Cats lead dogs in this category. You can refer to this excellent ASPCA resource for more information.
· Rodenticides. About four percent of calls to the APCC last year were related to rodent bait poisoning. You can learn more about the dangers of rodent bait here, here and here.
· Lawn and garden products. Fertilizers and other lawn and garden products accounted for about 3,600 calls to the APCC in 2012.
Dog Dies After Ingesting a Penny
In a very sad story out of Colorado, a little dog lost her life after eating a very common household item – a penny. Pennies produced after 1982 contain zinc, which is toxic to dogs and cats.
Sierra, a West Highland White Terrier, was always attracted to coins, according to her owner, Maryann Goldstein, in an interview with CBS Denver. In fact, as a puppy, Sierra ate 32 cents and underwent surgery to remove the coins.
This past March, Sierra became very ill and Goldstein took her to the vet. X-rays showed a quarter and a penny in her stomach. The penny, though smaller than the quarter, was the bigger problem because of its zinc content.
The reason pennies are so dangerous is because gastric acid in the stomach eats into the penny very quickly, releasing the zinc and causing it to be absorbed by the body. Zinc inhibits the production of red blood cells and the longer the exposure to the zinc, the greater the damage to red blood cells.
Zinc toxicity symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, jaundice, and red-tinged urine.
According to Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a staff veterinarian at Petplan pet insurance:
"Zinc toxicosis is more commonly seen in dogs, but cats can get sick from eating pennies, too," warned Jackson. "Be sure to bank your spare change before curious pets can get their paws on it -- and if they do, get them to the emergency vet immediately."
Smelly Socks and Shoulder Pads
According to Dr. Karen Halligan, director of veterinary services for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Los Angeles, hundreds of pets require surgery every year to remove articles of clothing and similar items from their stomachs and intestines.
There was the toy Poodle that swallowed a tube sock. Dr. Halligan made the dog vomit and removed a foot-long sock from the tiny dog. Dirty socks are among the most commonly ingested items of clothing. Your pet really loves your socks because they smell like you.
There was also the Great Dane who required multiple surgeries after eating shoulder pads.
While these stories may seem funny, the fact is non-food items such as these can be very dangerous if ingested by a pet. Fabric items don’t appear on x-rays, and within about 48 hours, a pet who has swallowed a piece of clothing will have symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite and lethargy.
If ingested cloth is removed early, normally the pet has a full recovery. But if your dog (or much less commonly, your cat) eats something you aren’t aware of and time passes, the intestines will begin to die from lack of a blood supply. Sometimes the only option to save the pet is to remove the intestines. Surgeries to deal with odd things pets swallow are costly – at least $2,500 to $5,000 according to Dr. Halligan.
Left untreated, an ingested cloth item can result in a fatal case of dehydration or peritonitis caused by bacteria invading the stomach.
If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.
Summer is here and that means hot weather so protect your dog from the heat.
Here are five things from Cesar Millan you can do for your dogs in hot weather:
Read more: http://www.cesarsway.com/the-scoop/cesars-blog/Hot-Dogs?utm_source=BlueHornet&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Jun14NL_4#ixzz35OgRO7nh