Determination of Total Mercury and Methylmercury Concentrations in Commercial Canine Diets

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4 Scopus citations


Methylmercury is an organic form of mercury that is well recognized for its bioaccumulation in aquatic species. Consumption of fish contaminated with methylmercury poses a toxicological health risk to both humans and animals. Salmon is an increasingly common ingredient in commercial pet foods because of manufacturers’ interest in unconventional protein sources and inclusion of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Previous studies have measured total mercury, but not methylmercury, in commercial pet foods. The purpose of this study was to evaluate total mercury and methylmercury concentrations in commercially available salmon-containing and nonsalmon-containing canine diets and to estimate risk of chronic exposure in dogs fed these diets long term. Total mercury was detected in 3 of 24 diets evaluated (12.5%), 2 of which did not contain any ingredients from fish. The single salmon-containing diet that contained total mercury was the lowest of the 3 but was also the only sample positive for methylmercury. None of the 3 mercury-containing diets contained fish oil. Concentrations of total mercury were similar to most data previously reported for pet foods. Using expected calorie intake for dogs of 2 body weights, the mercury concentrations determined in this study were applied to theoretical chronic exposure calculations to assess risk of toxicosis to dogs. Total mercury and methylmercury were uncommonly identified in the commercially available canine diets sampled in this study and were found in concentrations unlikely to pose risk to healthy adult dogs. Common sources of mercury in pet foods remain unknown and are not reliably of seafood origin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-10
Number of pages5
JournalTopics in Companion Animal Medicine
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • Canine
  • Diet
  • Mercury
  • Toxicology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals


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