What Are Tocopherols in Dog Food?

pug dog bite stainless bowl wait to eat dog food on concrete floor.

Don’t turn away because the dog food label shows Tocopherols

I am always suspicious about ingredients that sound chemicals. However, I’ve learned to do some digging because the tocopherols I once rejected turned out to be a natural preservative. Oils and fats in dog foods oxidize, causing them to change color and become rancid. Preventing that is a significant challenge for manufacturers, and adding tocopherols is the answer.

What is Tocopherols?

Let’s start with Vitamin E, which is a natural preservative. Vitamin E naturally occurs in eight different forms. Four of them make up Tocopherols. The term Mixed Tocopherols is used for the following forms of vitamin E:

  • alpha-tocopherol
  • beta-tocopherol
  • gamma-tocopherol
  • delta-tocopherol

Are Tocopherols safe for dogs?

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can successfully replace synthetic antioxidants like BHA, TBHQ and BHT.

NCBI Literature Resources reported the outcome of comprehensive clinical and experimental studies. They concluded that although natural vitamin E does not contribute to dog food nutrition, naturally occurring tocopherols are safe to use as a source to protect flavor and preserve dog food.

Along with Vitamin E, vitamin C is another natural preservative. When you check the ingredients on dog food labels, don’t let words like “ascorbate” or “tocopherol” scare you. You would likely see something like this: “…chicken fat preserved with alpha-tocopherol.”

How to know whether your pup gets enough tocopherols

Most dog foods contain Tocopherols, and Vitamin E deficiency is not common. However, the following telltale signs might be worth a mention to your vet:

  • Muscle degeneration and weakness
  • Skin problems
  • Decreased vision
  • Decreased fertility
  • Weight loss
  • Neurological problems
  • Unexplained behavioral changes
  • Brown bowel syndrome
  • Impaired immunity

Note that each of these red flags could have another reason than Vitamin E deficiency. It is crucial to avoid giving Doggo supplements without first discussing it with your vet. An overdose is possible and could lead to more severe or long-term health problems.

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Sarah Brady

Sarah Brady is an animal lover and the proud dog-mom of a Golden Retriever named Brody and an Italian Greyhound named Jessup. Unfortunately, Jessup developed serious allergies to many different types of dog foods and ingredients when she was just a puppy. Meanwhile, Brody could eat seemingly anything and carry on as healthy as could be. Sarah spent hours of time researching and testing different foods and brands before finding something that worked for little Jessup. She wants Dog Food Care to simplify this experience for future dog-parents who face food allergy or tolerance issues of their own.