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What Are Tocopherols?

We are always watchful for any preservatives that are used in dog foods and treats.  Some of these preservatives are definitely not good for dogs.

Preservatives are being used to retard the spoilage of food products.  Manufacturers are always looking for ways to extend the shelf life of their products. Shelf life includes warehousing, time at the distributors and time at the store.  These products contain ingredients that will spoil from oxidation as we have all witnessed in our own refrigerators. If you can retard the oxidation, you can retard the spoilage.

Ethoxyquin is a chemical preservative and considered a carcinogenic. While the FDA currently allows only a very small amount (.5 to 5 ppm) in human consumed foods, it allows large amounts (150 ppm) in pet food products.  And when you consider that dogs are smaller than humans, we consider this amount of preservatives to be too high for our furry friends.

BHA, short for Butylated Hydroxyanisole, and BHT, Butylated Hydroxytoluene, are also artificial preservatives and have been shown to produce health problems for dogs.


Herbert Evans and Katherine Bishop of UC Berkeley discovered vitamin E in 1922.  It is a fat-soluble vitamin and an antioxidant. This means that fat ingredients can absorb this antioxidant and retard it from oxidation.  Antioxidants are also very healthy.  It protects cells against the effects of free radicals, which are potentially damaging to life processes.  Free radicals can damage cells and contribute to development of many types of illnesses and disease. Vitamin E can also help boost the immune functions.


Tocopherol is a vitamin E that is used as a “natural preservative” and also provides beneficial health results when used in food products for both humans and pets. I would think that any manufacturer would consider a tocopherol as a “win – win” solution.  Tocopherol  is an ingredient that not only retards spoilage, it also is a health benefit.


Tocopherols is one of the few preservatives that we will allow in our “specially selected dog treats”. We will continue to investigate new treats and always check the ingredients.


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Article author Ron Case writes for the web site www.justwheatfreedogtreats.com.

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