No More Wet Dog Smell: Saponin in Your Pet's Food

@YoshiYorki sitting on turf

Have you ever noticed the ingredients in your pet's food and wondered, “Why is that even in there?” Many thorough pet owners have been checking the ingredients of their pets’ food and often find themselves concerned. Most well-known brand names are being heavily criticized because of the ingredients in their food. For example, one of the main concerns was that corn was used as a filter in most pets' food, it doesn’t provide much nutrition for most pets’ diet. However, most ingredients are placed inside your pet food for a specific reason, such as saponin. 

What does saponin do?

The possibility of controlling odor with saponin could depend on where you derive the saponin from. There has been a study on using Yucca’s saponin as an odor control for livestock such as cows. The study was to use Yucca schidigera extract as odor control and gas reduction in the intensive farming industry due to their potentials in lowering methane for ruminants and ammonia for monogastric animals. One study shows Yucca saponins pass through the digestive tract unabsorbed and are excreted in the feces.  Yucca ingestion generally improves the character and intensity of canine and feline aroma. “The overall decrease in faecal offensiveness is 26%, although there will be considerable intra- and inter-individual variability in faecal aroma as perceived by panelists or owners. Owners are able to detect the effect of Yucca on a group level, but it is unknown whether the degree of odour amelioration can be considered relevant in practice In any event.”. However there are still concerns about the yucca saponin since the actual plant is toxic “The Yucca plant, which commonly grows in the desert, contains steroidal saponins. When ingested by animals, clinical signs of drooling, vomiting, weakness, incoordination and dilated pupils (cats) may be seen. This plant is more dangerous to large animals that are chronically grazing (eating) on this plant. Typically, when dogs and cats ingest Yucca, it results in mild vomiting and diarrhea.”

Is saponin harmful?

Whether or not saponin is harmful depends on the type of saponin you use, as there are different types from different sources. It’s important to look for the types that are pet-friendly. In addition to yucca, one of the pet family saponins, there is sasanqua saponin. The sasanqua saponin is pet friendly and comes from the camellia seed, the plant that  all tea originates from. Now most people would ask what is the difference from sasanqua saponin from other saponins if the plants with the most saponins are toxic to my pets? Sasanqua saponin has a low concentration of saponins compared to yucca (10% vs 20-30%). Since the lower concentration of saponin, sasanqua would not be harmful to your pets' sensitive skin or even in diets. Sasanqua saponin is used as part of your pet’ shampoo as removing fleas and fleas.  It can also be used as an organic biopesticide against fleas and ticks. 


Saponin is placed in pet food for a reason. “The overall decrease in faecal offensiveness is 26%, although there will be considerable intra- and inter-individual variability in faecal aroma as perceived by panelists or owners”. It is understandable to be cautious about the ingredients in your pet’s food, since most companies shade the truth a bit. However, certain saponin acts as a natural odor elimination and when used as an ingredient, benefitting both the environment, as well as your nose.


1. R. Bras. Zootec., v.40, n.11, p.2471-2475, 2011


3. Chaieb, I. 2010. Saponins as insecticides: a review.  Tunisian Journal of Plant Protection 5: 39-50

4. LOWE et al., 1997

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published