What Is Dicalcium Phosphate?
Dicalcium Phosphate is a chemical compound that contains a specific mix of Calcium, Phosphorus, and some other elements.
Dicalcium Phosphate is commonly used as a food additive for some human foods, including cereals, flour, and noodle products.
Outside of being a food additive, Dicalcium Phosphate is also used in some other non-food products for humans, such as toothpaste and polishing agents.
Lastly, some pet owners who closely study the ingredient list of their dog or cat’s food may have noticed its presence as a minor ingredient.
But why is Dicalcium present in pet food, and is it something you should be concerned about?
Why Is Dicalcium Phosphate In Pet Food?
The primary purpose of Dicalcium Phosphate in pet food recipes is as a source of minerals, or more specifically, as a source of calcium.
Calcium is an important component of both a dog and cat’s diet and is critical for their bones and teeth, as well as others like the nervous system and the heart.
While most pet food recipes will likely contain a moderate portion of calcium from their base ingredients, some may not reach the minimum required levels to be classed as ‘Complete and Balanced’ by AAFCO and so must supplement with ingredients like Dicalcium Phosphate.
Currently, dog food recipes for adult maintenance require a minimum of 0.5% Calcium and a maximum of 1.8% Calcium.
The addition of select minerals in this manner is commonplace and is also done for several other critical minerals like Copper and Potassium.
There are some other forms of calcium that can be found in pet food recipes, including Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Pantothenate, and Calcium Iodate.
At this time, we could find very little reliable information on the comparison of these ingredients and are not able to comment on why a pet food brand would choose Dicalcium Phosphate over other options.
Are There Any Risks Associated With Dicalcium Phosphate?
While there is very limited evidence or discussion online about the use of Dicalcium Phosphate, we could find some discussion around the fact that it is insoluble.
This means that it can not absorb water as many other commonly added minerals can. Moreover, there are also claims it can calcify soft tissue and even lead to kidney stones.
However, we could not find any reliable sources for this information. If you think this may affect your pets more than most, you may want to avoid the ingredient.
But given that it is used by many of the big pet food brands that we will highlight shortly, we believe that research has gone into its use in pet foods, and it is most likely not harmful to dogs or cats.
Pet Food Brands That Use Dicalcium Phosphate
While not as commonplace as some other added minerals like Copper Sulfate and Potassium Chloride, Dicalcium Phosphate is used widely throughout the industry and by many pet food brands that pet owners will know and recognize.
Some of the best examples of pet food brands that use Dicalcium Phosphate that we could find include Purina Pro Plan, Diamond, Blue Buffalo, Rachael Ray Nutrish, Iams, American Journey, Hill’s Science Diet, Natural Balance, and Taste of the Wild.
While researching the use of ingredients in dog food recipes, we found that Dicalcium Phosphate was present in 41 of the 100 most popular dry dog food recipes on Chewy.com, making it one of the most popular added minerals.
You can see a good example of the use of Dicalcium Phosphate in the ingredient list shown below, which is from Taste of the Wild’s Prey Angus Beef Limited Ingredient Recipe.
As you can see, Dicalcium Phosphate is actually the most abundant added mineral in this recipe, above others like Salt and Choline Chloride.
It is likely that this particular recipe needed a substantial amount of calcium to reach the required or desired levels.
Moreover, those of you with a sharp eye will also notice the presence of Calcium Pantothenate much further down the ingredient list.
Based on our research and experience, the majority of pet food brands use multiple calcium-based minerals in their recipes rather than just one.
The below ingredient list from one of American Journey’s dry dog food recipes is a prime example of this, and it includes Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Calcium Pantothenate, and Calcium Iodate.
It is not clear why American Journey needed all four of these Calcium compounds present in its recipe, but it could be for other reasons, such as appearance or consistency.
Fancy Feast has Dicalcium Phosphate in their food too.