How Vitamin E is Used as a Preservative in Dog Food

by Naomi Millburn
Options for dry dog foods are diverse and plentiful.

Options for dry dog foods are diverse and plentiful.

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As a concerned and loving dog owner, it's smart to pay attention to what you feed your pet. If you look at the packaging of your pooch's commercial dog food and notice that it includes vitamin E among the ingredients, the antioxidant could be hard at work as a natural preservative.

How Vitamin E Works

As an antioxidant, vitamin E is capable of stopping oxidation from occurring in pet food. When vitamin E is used as a preservative in dog food, it prevents oxidation by stopping the deconstruction of fats, fat soluble compounds and oils. When fats go through oxidation, their nutritional benefits diminish. They also develop an unpleasant and stale taste and texture. Since dog foods often consist of high amounts of fat, oxidation is a common problem with them. Vitamin E is a common natural preservative in dry dog foods -- kibble. Canned, moist dog foods aren't at risk of oxidation due to being airtight.

Natural Preservatives

Commercial dog foods that have a natural focus frequently use vitamin C as a preservative in their products. Rosemary extract is commonly used with vitamin C. One drawback to natural preservatives is that they don't last as long as artificial preservatives, which can sometimes be effective for upwards of a year. Vitamin E as a preservative is often called "mixed tocopherols" on product labels, while vitamin C is often called "ascorbate." If you see mixed tocopherols listed as a preservative on your dog's food, it's probably appropriate to eat for up to six months, according to author and dog behavior expert Colleen Paige. Don't let the food sit around too long; the consumption of rancid fats can introduce health risks to dogs, including possible nutritional deficiencies.

Dry Dog Food Safekeeping

If you opt to purchase dry dog foods that contain vitamin E as a preservative, you don't have to let the time limitations get to you. Avoid buying this kind of food in bulk, for one. When you do buy dog food with vitamin E preservatives, place them in a dim and cool place. Air and light can cause natural preservatives to deconstruct -- not good.

Veterinary Advice

If you have any concerns regarding preservatives in your dog's food, talk to your veterinarian about them. Some of the artificial antioxidants that are frequently seen as preservatives in pet food include butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and ethoxyquin. Extended intake of BHT and BHA is thought to be potentially hazardous to canines, according to author Jean Callahan. BHT and BHA are thought to possibly contain carcinogens. When picking an appropriate dry food for your pet, address any concerns you have about preservatives to her, whether they pertain to their proper storage or cancer risks. Remember, knowledge is power.

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About the Author

Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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