Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: Glycerin

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What is glycerin?

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

Glycerin is added to dog 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.


Is glycerin a commonly used ingredient in dog food?

We found either “glycerin” or glycerol in 2.13% of the foods in our dog food ingredient database.


Common benefits or risks of glycerin

Glycerin doesn’t provide much nutritional benefit to your dog.  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. oil pump silhouette in sunset  However, some pet food manufacturers are using glycerin that is derived from biofuel  (e.g. diesel fuel) processing.   This 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 dog.
Take away: avoid foods and treats with glycerin in favor of those that explicitly list vegetable glycerin which does not contain the methanol risk.

Miscellaneous facts about glycerin

Glycerin is more common in treats than in regular food.   It was an ingredient in 20% of the treats in our database which is 10 times the frequency of that in regular food.


Sources and further reading


image We’re joining the Tasty Tuesday Blog Hop sponsored by Sugar, the Golden Retriever and Kolchak from Kol’s Notes:

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  1. Wow, didn’t know. Thanks for sharing the information. I think it was Glycerin that I would use on suction cups to keep them from falling off where ever I put them and to think they add that to food. hmmm
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Monday Mischief~The MarkerMy Profile

  2. this is very good info I always thought this was only for soap

    urban hounds

  3. Very good to know. I find myself looking for treats with fewer ingredients.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Opening DayMy Profile

    • Fewer and/or more recognizable ingredients are preferred. Since treats are not meant to be a primary nutritional source for a dog, they will normally have far less ingredients. However, they are also more likely to have added sweeteners (like glycerin) to make them more tasty.
      steve recently posted…Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: GlycerinMy Profile

  4. We did not know what glycerin was really, Mom just said it was something that was not a good thing but we had no idea it would be in dog food items. Thanks!
    emma recently posted…Halloween Baking for Puppies | GBGV | Tasty TuesdayMy Profile

    • Our main point is that if the food/treat has ‘glycerin’ and not ‘vegetable glycerin’, then you very well might be feeding your dog a biofuel byproduct. That is not what we want SlimDoggy Jack to be eating!
      steve recently posted…Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: GlycerinMy Profile

  5. Wow had no idea! Another pawsome reason for pawrents to bake from The Canine Chef Cookbook!

    • If you can’t home bake, or even if you can, make sure to check out the ingredients before making your dog food and dog treat purchase decisions!
      steve recently posted…Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: GlycerinMy Profile

  6. Ew, that’s kinda gross 🙁 Thanks for sharing! We will be on the lookout for this in our future foods and treats!
    Nailah Bone recently posted…Celebrating Reaching 100 Twitter Followers with a Tasty Giveaway!My Profile

  7. Derived from biofuel? Nobody needs that! (imho)
    Sue at Talking Dogs recently posted…Nutro Crunchy Dog Treats from | Product ReviewMy Profile

  8. Real comforting thought — glycerin made from fuel products — geezus, do these companies have no conscience at all?! Thanks for sharing!! I just got finished checking ALL of the dog food & treats I have been using. Now I have to check the ones I use for training classes!

    • It is often about cost. We totally understand that food is a business and that costs do matter. And that some folks can’t afford premium foods. Whatever your individual dog food budget may be, at least check the ingredients and try to use the best possible food or treat in your price range!
      steve recently posted…Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: GlycerinMy Profile

  9. Like others, I had no idea about this…To me glycerin was something you used when tempering chocolate and I didn’t realize it was a sweetener or (heaven forbid) that it came from biofuel…yuck! I will certainly be on the lookout for it now on ingredient lists…Thank you!
    GizmoGeodog recently posted…Fuel the Love with Zuke’s – Review & GiveawayMy Profile

    • And just think, we are only up to “G” in the alphabet. We plan on cycling through the letters several times. After all, there are so many different ingredients used in commercial dog food. We should be busy for the next year. Or longer. Can’t wait to share all that info with the SlimDoggy readers.
      steve recently posted…Dog Food Ingredients A to Z: GlycerinMy Profile

  10. We know glycerin as an ingredient used for soap not for food (or treats for dogs). Golden Thanks for sharing this information. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar
    SUGAR: Golden Woofs recently posted…Frosty Pumpkin: Benefits of Pumpkin for DogsMy Profile

  11. There should be more laws that stop pet food manufacturers from adding harmful ingredients to our dogs’ food!!! 🙁
    Francesca Villa recently posted…Three Things I Would Have Done Differently… (Thoughts on Leash Reactivity)My Profile

    • I guess. Same with human food, a lot of which also contain dubious ingredients.

      Better is if people learn how to read the dog food (human food) label and stop buying products full of ‘crap’.
      steve recently posted…Your Dog as a Workout Partner – Research RecapMy Profile

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