Lecithin as a Dog Food Ingredient

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We are now up to the letter L in our second pass through the A to Z Dog Food Ingredient series. Today’s dog food ingredient is Lecithin.


What is Lecithin?

Lecithin is a fatty substance found in plants and animals. It is produced naturally in the body.


Common names for Lecithin

The most common names for lecithin are related to their source, for example, Soy Lecithin and Egg Lecithin.

Why is Lecithin in Dog Food?

Lecithin is added to dog food as an emulsifier, allowing oils and water to mix and to keep fats from separating. It acts as a preservative and can act as a moisturizer.


Is Lecithin Commonly Used in Dog Food?

Lecithin is included in about 12.5% of all dog foods.


Common Benefits or Risks of Lecithin

Besides its ability to emulsify fats and act as a preservative, lecithin can offer some nutritional benefits. First off, it is a source of choline, which is essential to every living cell in the body and is one of the main components of cell membranes. Without choline, the cell membranes would harden, prohibiting important nutrients from entering and leaving the cell.


Lecithin is also purported to provide additional benefits in improving brain function, depression, and treating liver and gall bladder disease, and some skin disorders (e.g. eczema). According to WebMD, most of these benefits are yet to be scientifically verified.


Lecithin appears to be safe for most normal dogs (and humans). Typical side effects of lecithin include   vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, diminished appetite, and skin rashes.


Lecithin was originally extracted from egg yolks but today, a common source of lecithin is soy. Soy is a somewhat controversial ingredient (that we will write about in a future post) for dogs (and humans). If you are trying to avoid soy and soy products in your dog’s food, check with your food Brand to see from where their lecithin ingredients are originated. Some foods will list this directly on the label; a small percentage of the food labels explicitly list soy lecithin (vs. the generic lecithin) as an ingredient.


Slimdoggy Ingredient Comfort Level

Lecithin can provide some health benefits and it is a preferred preservative and emulsifier to other artificial additives. However, due to the fact that there is a high probability that it is sourced from soy, we temper our enthusiasm and give lecithin a neutral rating.


Miscellaneous facts about Lecithin

Lecithin is found in a number of foods including egg yolks, fish, organ meats, soybeans, peanuts, and many other grains and legumes.


Lecithin is often used in baked food preparation, chocolate, margarine, and mayonnaise because of its ability to emulsify and preserve. It is also sometimes added to skin moisturizers and creams.


Some people use Lecithin to stimulate memory and learning function. I have heard of dog trainers who use lecithin supplementation before a training session.


Sources and further reading




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  1. The part about helping with memory is an interesting concept.
    Emma recently posted…It’s Time For Some Mealtime Mayhem!My Profile

  2. Agree with Emma!
    And I have never heard of this one.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…(P)updates and adoptable husky OTWMy Profile

  3. Love this series. My dogs’ daily food does not contain lecithin, but I’ve noticed soy lecithin in some dog treats. Assume used as a preservative.
    Sue recently posted…Rudy’s Birthday Peanut Butter Pumpkin Pupcakes Recipe | Tasty TuesdayMy Profile

  4. Didn’t know about the memory and learning function component. Now, I must revisit my choice of dry food to see if it is there and how much. Thanks again Slim – looking forward to the letter “S”

  5. I think it’s also in a lot of powdered coffee creamer. I have to stay away from soy. Hashimoto’s and soy are common enemies.
    Flea recently posted…Treats and Other ThingsMy Profile

  6. mom’s granny bought always a bottle of “vita buerlecithin” for my momma as she entered school … but I have to admit that the result was more so-so lol…
    easyweimaraner recently posted…easyblog MONDAY MESSAGEMy Profile

  7. We had a Lab who had severe neurological issues, that ultimately caused her to use a wheelchair that supported her hind end. Our vet had us supplement her food with lecithin to see if it would help improve her neurological function. I’m not sure it made any difference but it’s interesting that it’s added to many foods for other reasons.
    KB recently posted…Taking Stock…My Profile

  8. We have had food and treats with lecithin. I’m glad to know more about it.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…BFTB NETWoof Channel 7 News ~ 10/13/2014My Profile

  9. I just checked – our dog food does not contain lecithin but I think I remember seeing it on some dog treats. The cognition and depression link is interesting, even if it’s not yet verified. Looking forward to the post on soy since there seems to be some controversy and mixed opinions on it.
    Jen Gabbard recently posted…Happy Tails – Shelter Adoption SmilesMy Profile

  10. Hmmm I could use some help with brain function….lol.
    2 brown dawgs recently posted…Wordless Wednesday–Tree MazeMy Profile

  11. I used to have a housemate who took huge amounts of lecithin as a supplement. I never know why. However, I will share that it didn’t make him any easier to live with. 🙂
    Pamela recently posted…Flame Wars Don’t Save Animals – Be The Change For AnimalsMy Profile

  12. I just discovered this A-Z dog food ingredient series! Now I’m going to have to go back and look through the first run of the A-Z too. Great info, thanks!
    Elaine recently posted…10 Halloween Dog TipsMy Profile

  13. Soy lecithin is another ingredient that is listed as a migraine trigger for humans, so I try to avoid it for all of us. I’m interested to hear what you have to say about soy in general, which I haven’t heard good things about lately.
    Jan K recently posted…Barking About…..Senior Cats & Feline ArthritisMy Profile

  14. Hmmm interesting never heard of it.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Monday Mischief~MK Going Hunting With The Chessie’sMy Profile

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