Pet Food Ingredients

Carrageenan – Protects Against Colds?

This appears to be the newest marketing claim for carrageenan, the gum used to mold together a moist pet food might provide your pet protection from a cold. The marketing neglects to mention that carrageenan might also cause serious intestinal issues and possibly even cancer.

From one of you very attentive pet food consumers out there I was sent some rather ridiculous marketing claims. On a pet food delivery service website (for the Chicago area), for a Merrick dog food…

Key Benefits

  • Carrageenan protects against canine colds

From a popular online pet food store for a Natural Balance cat food…

Key Benefits

  • Carrageenan guards against kitty colds


Even a Veterinarian’s website describing Royal Canin Selected Protein pet food…

Key Benefits

  • Carrageenan guards against canine colds

Is this true? Can Carrageenan “guard against” or “protect” your pet from colds?

Maybe…if your pet would inhale the carrageenan through its nose (instead of ingesting carrageenan in its pet food).  Published on the Virology Journal website, some research on carrageenan states:

In this study we demonstrate that Iota-Carrageenan, a sulphated polysaccharide derived from red seaweed, is a potent anti-rhinoviral substance in-vitro. Iota-Carrageenan reduces HRV growth and inhibits the virus induced cythopathic effect of infected HeLa cells. Since HRV infections predominately occur in the nasal cavity and the upper respiratory tract, a targeted treatment with a product containing Iota-Carrageenan is conceivable.

This is a health claim – that a pet food can prevent disease. If a human food made such a claim the FDA would issue a warning letter requiring the claim to be removed. But with pet food…well…

Years of science links carrageenan to intestinal inflammation and cancer in animals. Click Here and or Here to learn more about carrageenan.



Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,

Susan Thixton
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible
Association for Truth in Pet Food

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May 22, 2014

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11 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Carrageenan – Protects Against Colds?”

  1. Gitta says:

    in vi·tro
    in ˈvēˌtrō/
    adjective & adverbBIOLOGY
    (of processes or reactions) taking place in a test tube, culture dish, or elsewhere outside a living organism.

    But why bother with such details. In a culture dish it doesn’t matter what the test substance might do besides kill germs. Why bother with “a targeted treatment with a product containing Iota-Carrageenan is conceivable.”

    I would like to know who is responsible for these ads. Is it the store or the manufacturer? If the manufacturer is not involved, they should take immediate action.

    I’m sure other copycats will jump on the bandwagon. Either not interested in their own research, or just not giving a damn about ethics.

  2. Mirella says:

    I looked far and wide for a canned food for cats without carrageenan and simply could not find it. Its one of the reasons why I now feed The honest Kitchen, along with my own home-made food. And stupidly enough, when I first started giving it to my cats I was annoyed that it was so watery.. Duh! Its probably that way precisely because they’ve gotten rid of products like carrageenan. Carrageenan is one of the products that appear in canned food for pure profit motive and no other reason. The pet food manufacturers use it to transform their slop into something resembling an actual food product.

  3. Michelle says:

    I just sent Castor and Pollux a message to find out why they have sold out and added carrageenan to all of their Ultramix canned meat dog food! I had to have a conversation with Mr. Chewy because I was purposely buying the Ultramix lamb because it did not have carrageenan in it, one month it didn’t have it in it and the next month it did! Mr Chewy credited me because their website had not been updated to add the ingredient and I was so upset. I have stopped purchasing their food because “Merrick” answered my email and told me how safe it is and that it was only 1% of the total pet food. I have started using Natures Logic for my boy now. The reasoning behind using this inflammatory additive in their product just totally pisses me off!

  4. Pam says:

    Good Grief! I know dogs can get colds but in 50+ years of owning dogs, working at a veterinarian office & boarding kennels I’ve never encountered a dog with a cold. And, color me crazy, but I would prefer my dog to get a cold instead of cancer. These companies are grasping at straws at the expense of our pets. Keep up the great work Susan.

  5. George says:

    Exactly what the snippy service rep told me when I called Verus Pet Food inquiring about their so called *really healthy cat food* containing carrageenan!

    Like the TV ads caveats for drugs………* prevent colds…. but may cause cancer*!

  6. lisa says:

    Nature’s Variety canned foods are carrageenan-free.

    I had an incident with Ziwi Peak, used their canned cat food for about a year, the food contains carrageenan, at the time I didn’t realize it was harmful. Earlier this year ZP’s 6 oz venison formula had a new label, three different languages but with no carrageenan listed. When I opened several cans, the food still clearly had carrageenan or some gummy binder because the texture was exactly the same as the cans with carrageenan yet no carrageenan or other gum listed on the new label. When I contacted ZP customer service via email, I never heard back, contacted them twice. In the past Kimberly Mitchell, the VP of ZP always responded promptly to inquiries. In fact, when I contacted ZP in Dec 2013, the VP said ZP would remove the carrageenan and that the food was in “trials” but that ZP would make a “big announcement” on their web site and Facebook. How can they get away with using new labels that don’t include carrageenan when the food clearly still has carrageenan?
    I stopped using ZP and now do raw and NV’s canned.

  7. Michelle says:

    Redbarn makes a cat food formula that doesn’t contain Carageenan. It does contain a small amount of guar gum. Guar gum, while not idea, doesn’t cause cancer or lesions.
    Redbarn has 4 formulas, Salmon&Delilah, Tricky Chicky, Quirky Turkey and Beef-a-Pallosa.
    They launched the products this year so have limited distribution but you can find them on their website:

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