Managing Phosphorus Levels in Pet Food to Support Health, Mitigate Risk

The story of phosphorus is a complicated one; it plays a vital role in animal health and nutrition. From transferring biochemical energy and regulating metabolic processes to combining with calcium to form bone, it is an essential nutrient for dogs and cats. In fact, calcium and phosphorus are the first and second most abundant minerals in animals’ bodies and they serve in both structural and functional roles.

Insufficient phosphorus can cause improper bone developments in kittens and puppies. Conversely, too much phosphorus and calcium can negatively impact bone development, especially for large breed dogs during their growth phase.

As animals age, studies have shown that excess phosphorus can not only contribute to the high incidence of chronic kidney disease in elderly cats, but can also contribute to the appearance of glucosuria and albuminuria (indicators of rental damage) in healthy, mature cats. It has also been shown to contribute to the formation of bladder stones.


Formulating Diets to Balance C:P

When feeding companion animals, the goal is to keep phosphorus levels within appropriate boundaries, or quickly return them there if they exceed recommended levels. In most kibble diets, 40-70% of dietary phosphorus comes from dried muscle tissue, which has a high bioavailability. Phosphorus contributed from carbohydrate sources deliver about 20-35% of total recommended phosphorus, but at a lower bioavailability rate.

However, phosphorus is found in many pet food ingredients with varying bioavailability, demanding constant evaluation and careful management to ensure rates are sufficient without being overfed. After dietary sources, the largest phosphorus contributor is supplemental sources such as any of the 60 food phosphates used for pH modification, coagulants, emulsifiers, and many more. These additives can account for nearly 30% of the phosphorus in some pet foods. Of these various sources, the largest contributor is phosphoric acid, which is commonly used to manage pH and enhance palatability from a food technology perspective.

Acidification Alternative


Pet - Sodium Bisulfate LogoFortunately, there are safer options for formulators working to satisfy the dietary needs of cats and dogs without negatively impacting health. SBS Pet™ is a natural product that acidifies the diet and improves palatability without affecting the calcium/phosphorus ratio. SBS Pet™ has the added benefit of sulfate as a main component, which is beneficial for joint health. Sulfates are involved in the formation of sulfated glycosaminoglycans, which are major components of cartilage. Sulfates are also involved in the formation of cerebroside sulfate, a constituent in the myelin membranes of the brain.

As a dry, mineral acid SBS Pet™ is also safer for workers as it is labeled non-hazardous and can be simply swept up if spilled.

If you’re searching for an acidifier to manage pH in pet food or enhance palatability, learn about a safer alternative to phosphoric acid. Contact us today to discuss your formulation needs and if SBS Pet™ could be a good fit.



Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU). “Animal nutrition: Excess phosphorus damages the kidney.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2018.

Aldrich, Greg. “Phosphorus in pet food diets: How do we manage it?” Petfood Industry July 2021

Demeio R. Sulfate Activation and Transfer. In: Metabolic Pathways, edited by Greenberg D. New York: Academic, 1975, p. 287-357.

Dietrich C, Samapio L, Toledo O, and Cassaro C. Cell Recognition and Adhesiveness: A Possible Biological Role for the Sulfated Mucopolysaccharides. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 75: 329-336, 1977.

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