Glycerin: Pet Food Ingredients A to Z

Today we move to the letter “G” in our ingredient A to Z series and are featuring Glycerin as our ingredient of the day.

What is Glycerin?

Glycerin L

Glycerin, is a sweetener and binder (humectant) that is commonly produced as a byproduct of soap making.  It has traditionally been used in pet food as a texturing and sweetening agent.

Common names for Glycerin

The most common name variations include glycerol, vegetable glycerin or glycerine.

Why is Glycerin included in pet food?

Glycerin is added to pet food for three key reasons: 1) as a binder for canned foods and treats (to make them chewy), 2) as a preservative against mold, and 3) as a sweetener.

Common benefits or risks of Glycerin

Glycerin doesn’t provide much nutritional benefit to your pet.  Glycerin’s ‘benefits’ are related to its properties as a binder and sweetener.

Glycerin that is derived from animal and plant sources is generally considered a ‘safe’, albeit nutritionally void ingredient.

Risks: Some pet food manufacturers are using Glycerin that is derived from biofuel  (e.g. diesel fuel) processing.   This processing leads to significant amounts of residual methanol (wood alcohol) and sodium that remain in the Glycerin.  Methanol, a flammable, poisonous liquid used in making formaldehyde, is not something that you want to feed your pet.

Take away: Avoid foods and treats with Glycerin in favor of those that explicitly list vegetable Glycerin or those with no Glycerin at all.

Miscellaneous fact about Glycerin

  • Glycerin is more common in treats than in regular food.

Sources and further reading


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