Mixed Tocopherols and Common Preservatives in Dog and Cat Food: Is it Safe for Your Pets?

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As pet parents, it’s necessary to read more into the ingredients our best companions are consuming on a daily basis!

What Are Mixed Tocopherols?

As our customers are aware, we are always transparent when it comes to our manufacturing process, ingredients, product testings, and more! We believe it’s important to find other companies who do the same, especially when these products are going into your pet’s bodies. There are many common preservatives out there, but are they deemed synthetic or natural?

Is Tocopherol Safe in Dog and Cat Food?

To be able to extend the shelf life to 1 year for our CBD-infused Pet Releaf Edibites we had to incorporate a natural preservative. We’ve added an all-natural Mixed Tocopherols-D Vitamin E to our recipe! This natural preservative is very common and used often in many pet food products your pet is consuming. Like most natural preservatives, there is usually a synthetic version. As we utilize a natural version of mixed tocopherols there are synthetic versions out there as well. Don’t worry, we’re here to break down the differences!

Are tocopherols safe for dogs

Tocopherol Types

Mixed Tocopherols-D

Mixed Tocopherols-D Vitamin E is the all-natural version that we use in our full Edibites line! On the plate, the darker brown substance is the Mixed Tocopherol-D that we use. Our natural mixed tocopherols are free of any milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, sulfites, corn, or shellfish. It’s the perfect 100% natural solution to protect against oxidation in products!

Mixed tocopherols can actually be absorbed more efficiently in the body compared to a synthetic version. The transport proteins that are produced in the liver actively choose the natural form in the body. These proteins then send the natural Vitamin E to other tissues in the body and work as an antioxidant. Believe it or not, these natural mixed tocopherols have long been a part of the human diet!

Mixed Tocopherols-DL

As most synthetic preservatives, they are free from offering any beneficial purpose in your pet’s body. You may ask, how do you differentiate between the two? Most synthetic versions use the letters, “DL” while natural versions usually just use the letter “D”. On the plate above, the clearer substance is the Mixed Tocopherol-DL that is absent from our products. As the body recognizes natural mixed tocopherols, it overlooks the synthetic.

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Tocopherol Side Effects on Pets

This results in the synthetic preservative going unnoticed in the body, removing the helpful antioxidant properties found in the natural version. Synthetic mixed tocopherols come from unnatural food sources and are usually derived from petroleum products.

At Pet Releaf, we only use the most beneficial ingredients for your pets! We ensure that after careful research and testing that we are using the very best option for your pet’s health. Also, all of our ingredients are beyond human-grade since we believe pet products should be of the same quality as products we consume as humans!

Looking to learn more about the ingredients in our products?

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— Update: 09-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article What Are Tocopherols in Dog Food? Is It Safe? from the website www.hepper.com for the keyword are tocopherols safe for dogs.

For many, making sense of the nutritional information on your dog’s food packet can be a nightmare—with words and phrases like “crude ash”, “by-products”, and “tocopherols”, it’s no wonder we’re often left scratching our heads. Tocopherols¹ are natural preservatives commonly found in dog food and other products like treats and shampoos.

In this post, we’ll discuss exactly what tocopherols are, why they’re used in dog food, and whether or not they’re safe for your dog.

Are tocopherols safe for dogs

What Are Tocopherols?

Tocopherols are natural preservatives from the vitamin E compound family. On your dog’s food label, you’ll likely see the phrase “mixed tocopherols”, which means a blend of vitamins from the E compound family. This blend includes alpha-tocopherol, beta-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, and delta-tocopherol.

You can find tocopherols in a variety of human foods, including seeds, nuts, leafy green vegetables, fish, and vegetable oils. It’s also used in the beauty industry in products like shampoos, so you might spot it listed on the ingredients of your dog’s shampoo bottle.

Are tocopherols safe for dogs
Image Credit: Caftor, Shutterstock

Why Are Tocopherols in Dog Food?

As natural preservatives, tocopherols help prevent dog food from spoiling, which increases the product’s shelf life and means it lasts longer after purchase. Without tocopherols, fats and oils oxidize and turn rancid, which is an issue dog food manufacturers must avoid at all costs. As well as preserving food for longer, tocopherols also help lock in flavor and are antioxidants.

Some dog food brands choose to use artificial preservatives like BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) because they’re cheaper and last longer, whereas products with natural preservatives don’t have a shelf life quite as long.

However, as long as you pay attention to the best-by date on the packaging, there’s no reason not to choose dog foods with natural preservatives.

Are tocopherols safe for dogs
Image Credit: APN Photography, Shutterstock

How Are Tocopherols Made?

Tocopherols can be made naturally or synthetically. Naturally produced tocopherols go through a process called molecular distillation. First, the seeds are dried out to get rid of the water content and the shell or hull is removed. After being ground down, the seed is boiled and the oils are separated. Synthetic tocopherols are derived from petroleum and are less potent than the natural version.

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Are Tocopherols Safe for Dogs?

Yes, according to studies, they are safe to include in dog food¹. It’s also very important for dogs to get enough vitamin E because it helps protect against degenerative diseases¹—particularly of the eyes and muscles—and contributes to keeping their cells, metabolism, and immune system in good shape.

Are tocopherols safe for dogs
Image Credit: Maximilian100, Shutterstock

What Other Natural Preservatives Are There in Dog Food?

Along with tocopherols, it’s common for dog food manufacturers to include other natural preservatives. These include vitamin C, which may be labeled as ascorbic acid, and plant extracts like rosemary oil.

How Long Do Naturally Preserved Foods Last?

Though they don’t last as long as artificially preserved foods, naturally preserved dog foods can still last for an impressively long time, with a shelf-life of around 12 months on average. That said, always go by the best-by date on your dog food’s label.

Are tocopherols safe for dogs
Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock

Are tocopherols safe for dogs

Final Thoughts

To recap, tocopherols, which are often labeled as “mixed tocopherols” on dog food labels are a combination of vitamin E compounds included in many dog foods to help preserve them. They are natural preservatives and it’s becoming more and more common for dog parents to seek out foods made with natural preservatives rather than artificial preservatives.

If you’re having difficulty deciding which brand or type of food would be best suited to your dog—especially if they have health issues—please consult your vet for recommendations.

Featured Image Credit: BearFotos, Shutterstock

— Update: 09-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Understanding Mixed Tocopherols in Pet Food from the website www.canadianpetconnection.ca for the keyword are tocopherols safe for dogs.

For pet owners trying to make healthy choices for their pets, the ingredients used in pet products can be confusing and overwhelming. There are hundreds of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce, and even harder to understand. Trying to decipher between the myriad of beneficial and detrimental ingredients used in today’s consumable pet products can make your head spin.

While most of us try to focus on pet food ingredients that are completely natural and beneficial, it can take some research to figure out what they are. 

What Are Mixed Tocopherols?

Mixed tocopherols are one of those commonly misunderstood ingredients. Tocopherols are found in everything from kibble, to training treats, supplements, shampoo, and more. In fact, tocopherols are one of the common ingredients used in pet goods. But what are they, and why are they so popular?

To explain it simply, mixed tocopherols are a combination of different sources of Vitamin E. They can be a mixture of alpha-tocopherol, beta-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, and delta-tocopherol, which are all natural forms of Vitamin E. Tocopherols do differ very slightly in chemical structure, but are essentially the same. They’re usually sourced from nuts, seeds, healthy oils, and even spinach. 

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Vitamin E is important for many pets, including dogs and cats, as it serves a variety of important functions. Firstly, Vitamin E acts as a powerful antioxidant, helping prevent cell damage from free radicals, which are closely associated with a number of serious diseases including cancers, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and more. Secondly, Vitamin E is a dynamic helper for both the immune system, as well as the circulatory system. It helps to maintain strong, healthy muscles, keeping your pet agile as they age. On top of these benefits, Vitamin E also contributes to better eyesight, a healthy skin and coat, and more!

While Vitamin E deficiency is rare in pets, cats can be slightly more susceptible to it than dogs. For example, all-fish diets are generally lower in Vitamin E – which is essential for natural fat metabolism – so without proper supplementation pets may be at risk of developing a disorder called Yellow Fat Disease. Most commercial pet foods are properly balanced in this regard, so diet-related Vitamin E deficiencies are not a common problem today. 

Surprisingly, the reason Vitamin E is found in so many pet products isn’t because of its health benefits; mixed tocopherols are an exceptionally effective preservative. Over the last couple decades, pet product manufacturers have been meeting an increasing demand for all natural, healthy pet foods and treats. Part of this trend has been the removal of unwanted synthetic preservatives.

Mixed Tocopherols as a Preservative

When being used as a preservative, mixed tocopherols work by naturally reducing oxidation of ingredients in consumable pet products, extending it’s shelf life significantly.

Synthetic preservatives are less costly to the manufacturer than mixed tocopherols, and preserve pet foods longer. However, there are many concerns regarding the safety of long-term exposure to artificial preservatives like BHT, BHA, propylene glycol, propyl gallate, and ethoxyquin. The International Agency for Research on Cancer lists BHA as a possible human carcinogen. While ethoxyquin is considered to be non-toxic to pets if used properly, it is also used in pesticides and in making rubber products, like tires. This really makes you question the number of potentially harmful things our pets are unknowingly exposed to.

When it comes to our pets, we only want what is best for them. The next time you choose a consumable product for your pet (or yourself), ask first

About Brandon Forder

Are tocopherols safe for dogsBrandon holds multiple certifications in pet nutrition and canine psychology. He has more than twenty-five years experience specializing in pet nutrition, behaviour, and healthy pet lifestyles. Brandon has a lifelong passion for helping people become great pet parents. He has written hundreds of informative pet-related articles for newspapers, magazines, web, and radio.


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About the Author: Tung Chi