Dear Labby – Why is ascorbic acid in my dog food?

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Dear Labby_old
Dear Labby,

My dog food label is so confusing and contains many ingredients that I don’t recognize.  Today, I noticed that there is something called Ascorbic Acid in my dog’s food.  Acid?  Should I be concerned?  I don’t want to be feeding my dog acid!


I am not a chemist

Dear Chemist,


This is such a great question and one that we have written about in the past in our post on preservatives in dog food.  Before we answer, we want to say that you have given us a great idea for an article series, which we will call “Dog Food Ingredients, A-Z” in which we will write about specific dog food ingredients, moving through the alphabet in order as best we can.  Based on the large number of ingredients that are used in dog food, this series should go on for a very long time.


Now to your question and the first installment of Dog Food Ingredients, A-Z.


What is ascorbic acid? 

According to Wikipedia, “Ascorbic acid is a naturally occurring organic compound with antioxidant properties”.  Also known as vitamin C from a nutritional perspective, it is an essential nutrient for both humans and dogs.

What are other common names for ascorbic acid?  

Some common names for Ascorbic acid include vitamin C, Ester-C, calcium ascorbate,  ascorbate,  and stabilized vitamin C.

Why is ascorbic acid included in dog food?

Ascorbic acid is included in dog food for two primary reasons.  First, ascorbic acid acts as a natural preservative and can extend the shelf life to the food product.  Second, it provides the dog with this essential vitamin, over and above that which is provided by the food stuffs alone.

Common benefits or risks

There are many benefits to ascorbic acid including collagen synthesis, immune system support, and possibly help mitigate joint and muscular-skeletal disorders.

Miscellaneous fact about ascorbic acid

Unlike with the human body, which cannot produce vitamin c on its own, a dog’s body does produce some amounts of ascorbic acid naturally.

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  1. Yay….a good ingredient, even though it doesn’t sound that good! I actually knew that was Vitamin C, but I didn’t recognize it by some of those other names, and didn’t know that it is essential for dogs.
    Jan K recently posted…This ‘N That Thursday – Good NewsMy Profile

  2. Hi Y’all!
    Love the “dear Labby” posts!
    Y’all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Sunshine and ShadowsMy Profile

  3. More Dear Labby Please! I’m currently still a pup and wonder if the ascorbic acid in the food is enough or eventually I’ll need supplementation as I age..
    Ruckus the Eskie recently posted…In Honor of Fashion Week: Birchbox + Ann Taylor Shopping EventMy Profile

  4. Excellent information. Good idea for a series.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Follow-up Friday 9-13-13My Profile

  5. Great idea for the a-z list.
    joann stancer recently posted…Black And White SundayMy Profile

  6. I thought that ascorbic acid was used as a sort of natural preservative. It is also a laxative if enough is taken.
    stacy l recently posted…Paleo Food ListMy Profile

    • Yes as we mentioned in the piece, ascorbic acid is used as a preservative in dog food. Not used as much as a laxative ;-0
      steve recently posted…Benefits of Core Exercises for your DogMy Profile

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