Glycerin. A diesel by any other name wouldn’t taste as sweet.

My children, Grace and Lula

I want to give Waggin’ Train and others like them, a firm kick in the caboose.

Glycerin. You see it everywhere in dog treats. When you do, put the bag down and slowly step away.  It could kill your pet.

Glycerin (aka glycerol or vegetable glycerin or glycerine) is a sugar and a filler.  It’s classified as a humectant, which means it absorbs water or moisture.  It’s included in pet treats – which are sold by net weight – so the manufacturer can sell you the weight in water.  Glycerin binds the water so as to disguise the water as a solid treat or food, and inhibit mold growth. And if you see it on the label, there’s generally a lot of it present.  To produce a soft, moist / semi-moist treat, glycerin generally makes up about 10% to 18% of the product.  Glycerin is also about 60% as sweet as sugar so there’s some palatability benefit for the treat maker to include the stuff as dogs can taste sweetness.

Until recently, most glycerin for pet food was produced as a byproduct of soap making.  It’s created when fat or vegetable oil is saponified. Today, a lot of glycerin that’s in food for animals comes from a much deadlier source.  It’s a byproduct of biofuels.

There has been an extraordinary amount of glycerin coming into the market from biofuel production, since one gallon of biodiesel yields one pound of glycerin.  This rate of production places tremendous pressure on the supply side of the glycerin market to find new uses for this product.  Animal food is where it’s being dumped.[i]

What makes glycerin produced from biodiesel any different than that from soap?  Plenty.

The production of glycerin from biofuels leads to significant amounts of residual methanol (wood alcohol) and sodium that remain in the glycerin. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the EPSA (Europe) are taking a hard look at this product given the nature of its contaminants.

Methanol (wood alcohol) is a flammable, poisonous liquid that’s also the raw material for making formaldehyde.  It’s on the Community Right to Know List.  Methanol is highly toxic, readily absorbed from all ways one can be exposed to it, and has narcotic properties. Ingestion can cause blindness and death.  Lesser exposure causes blurry vision, headaches, and GI disturbances.  Symptoms of exposure include headache, dizziness, confusion, abdominal pain, lung problems, weakness and coma.[ii]

Pet food makers that use glycerin from soap are trying to distinguish their products from those containing the poisonous glycerin from biodiesel.  To do so, they’re now referring to their glycerin as “natural” glycerin.  Natural, refined glycerin (derived from soap making) is generally recognized as safe (“GRAS”) though irritating to mucous membranes.

It’s wise to be cautious when seeing “natural” glycerin on a label though, as the production of crude glycerine from biodiesel is also categorized as “natural.”

Founding members of Goodness Gracious (maker of 100% human-grade dog treats)

Below is a list of some pet treats containing glycerin.  At a minimum, it’s worth asking the manufacturer if they use human food grade glycerin, what company provides it to them and what country it comes from.

  • Beggin’ Strips
  • Beneful (Baked Delights and Snackin’ Slices)
  • Bil-Jac  (liver treats for dogs and Gooberlicious)
  • Blue Buffalo (Blue Bits, Blue Bites, Blue Stix, Super Bars, Blue Bones, Wild Bites, Blue Wilderness Wild Bites)
  • Blue Dog Bakery (Softies, Perfect Trainers)
  • Buddy Biscuits (Soft and Chewy, Chewy Tricky Trainers)
  • Busy Bones
  • Canyon Creek Ranch
  • Carolina Prime
  • Cesar Treats
  • Dentastix (from Pedigree)
  • Good Bites (from Pedigree)
  • Halo (Spot’s Chew)
  • Milo’s Kitchen
  • Pur Luv (Chewy Bites, Little Trix, Grande Bones)
  • Purina Pro Plan (various treats including Roasted Slices)
  • Real Meat Jerky Treats (Jerky Bites, Bitz, Long Stix, Large Bitz)
  • Solid Gold (Beef Jerky, Turkey Jerky, Lamb Jerky, Tiny Tots)
  • Snausages
  • T-Bonz
  • Waggin Train
  • Wellness (Wellpet, Wellbites)
  • Zukes   (Hip Action, Natural Purrz, Jerky Naturals, Mini Naturals)

[i] Is ‘natural’ glycerin a good petfood ingredient? Greg Aldrich, PhD.  Petfood Industry Magazine.  January 2012, pp 52-53

[ii]  A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, 7th Edition. Ruth Winter, M.S.

About Amy Renz

Amy is the CEO and Pack Leader of Goodness Gracious, LLC ( and we save lives. We make healthy 100% human-grade, USDA certified, USA sourced dog and cat treats, and give 51% of our profits to local animal shelters, rescues and spay/neuter programs in communities where our treats are sold. Our products include single-ingredient jerky and gluten free biscuits that pets love, and parents love to give. Amy is a Marathoner, a slalom skier, but first a parent to her pack of three beautiful canines. Find us on Facebook at Twitter @Goodnssgracious
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22 Responses to Glycerin. A diesel by any other name wouldn’t taste as sweet.

  1. These articles just keep coming folks!! And it makes me more & more angry, every time I read one!!
    Shame on every single one of these companies that are putting this crap into our pets treats!!! They all lead you to believe that these treats are good for your pet, when that is far from the truth ~ I for one, do not want to give my dog treats that could harm them. It makes me wonder how they can sleep at night & if any of them have pets, do they give this stuff to their 4-legged friends. Once again, the almight dollar prevails without regard to what effects their product has on our beloved pets…..

    • Shropshire Lass says:


      The Jatropha plant is used extensively in China to produce Oils, Biodiesel, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Sorbitol and Proteins. This highly toxic, non-food shrub is also grown in India and parts of Africa. Three seeds from this plant can kill an adult. Symptoms include vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis is generally diagnosed, and the kidneys and liver can both fail. Death can occur quickly.

      The FDA wants the industry to watch for glycerin from Jatropha

      The FDA has issued new guidance about ingredients made from Jatropha curcas, a plant that has become popular in making biodiesel. The glycerin extracted in that process may contain toxins but which conventional testing may not find. Jatropha plants may contain phorbol esters, which could be toxic “both acute and chronic, to exposed humans and animals.”

      The agency says it has not discovered any problems yet but is trying to get out in front of the issue with the new rules. The plant has become popular in biodiesel production, the FDA says, because its seeds contain high levels of oil, the drought-resistant plant grows well in tropical and semi-tropical climates and it is relatively cheap to grow.

      The FDA is STILL TRYING TO DEVELOP A TEST FOR THE PRESENCE OF JATROPHA because of the jerky treat issue, and InPharm says it welcomes any assistance in that effort from the industry.

      Read more: FDA wants industry to watch for glycerin from Jatropha – FiercePharma Manufacturing

      FDA Notification to Industry: Products using oils, glycerin, or protein that were derived from the Jatropha plant may have toxic effects

      Read more:

      Deadly Chinese Dog Treats – Could This Be the Cause? Dog Food Advisor


      Until the FDA or the industry has positively identified the cause the death of these unfortunate — and innocent — animals, why expose your pet to these avoidable risks?

      Avoid feeding potentially deadly jerky treats. Don’t buy them. Or if you already have, take them back to the store you got them from.

      Avoid ANY pet food containing Propylene Glycol, Sorbitol or Glycerin!

      REPORT any adverse reaction to your State Dept of Agriculture:

      and to the state/regional FDA!

  2. There are so many better uses for glycerine anyway. An aid to aneorobic digestion to creat methane gas. Glycerine can be made into hydrogen, ethanol and methanol, all things which are currently mostly made from fossil fuel. So it could be such a good alternative to use glycerine.

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  5. narong chamkasem says:

    I am working at FDA and we are looking for the bad chicken treat samples that kills your dog so we can analyze them to compare with the good one so we can distinguise the difference and find out what compounds that kills the dog. This way we can screen the bad treat from the good one in the future. Anyone are interested in sending the samples, please contact me at



    • I believe that “Glycerin” is a major problem as it used to be sourced from soap. It is now a byproduct of biofuels. It is contaminiated with Methanol.. which breaks down into Formaldehyde and is a potent hepatotoxin. BTW, Liver failure is the predominant feature in the current round of BENEFUL dog food deaths… where is that Propylene Glycol (antifreeze) sourced from? I would suggest that Glycerin/ol sourced from a country like China is probably even more likely to have this and other contaminants than a US manufactured product.

  6. Robert Kawalec says:

    God bless you Narong. I hope you can figure this out and save our pets. My theory is the glycerin is to blame. Some dogs eat more treats than others, also glycerin is in many different treats. I believe it builds up in the animals system until a threshold is reached.

  7. Terie Vass says:

    The FDA has been looking specifically at the Jatropha glycerin because there are specific toxins in it after the biodiesel process that they don’t have a test for. Also, what does irradiation do it it? So many questions. I just want to know what killed my young dog and sicked his momma.

  8. Pingback: Glycerin in dog treats « Awesome Tails

  9. Reblogged this on dogtrainingnewportbeach and commented:
    In our foods too!

  10. narong says:

    Definition: Glycerin, sometimes spelled glycerine, is a clear, thick liquid that has a faint sweet taste. It is often used in pharmaceuticals and beauty products like soaps and lotions to help moisturize the skin, but it also has food applications. Because it readily absorbs moisture from the air, it is often used to keep foods moist and soft. It is also sometimes used as a sugar substitute. When used in candy-making, it can add a subtle sweetness, keep candy soft, and help improve the texture. Be sure to buy food-grade or food-safe glycerin for baking and candymaking purposes.

  11. narong says:

    Glyerine is in the food already. We still don’t know what cause your baby to get sick. I will try to get more info from my end.

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  13. Pingback: Opt for Top Five. Choose Dog Treats that Meet these Criteria | Dirty Popcorn

  14. Joanne Schoonjans says:

    I bought Melaleuca ProCare Skin and Coat Treats for my dog and yes it has glycerin in them. I wrote them and they have yet to comment! They say they r pet friendly”NOT”

  15. Glycerin’s ability to bind water also causes a laxative effect when consumed. When it gets to the large intestine it will tend to pull a lot of water with it. When this happens your pet could end up with diarrhea.

    Propylene glycol is NOT toxic in small amounts. Ethylene Glycol is toxic because it is converted to methanol by the liver and methanol is toxic. One of the treatments is too simply drink ethyl alcohol to counteract a poisonous effect.

    There are tests to determine if methanol is left behind in the biodiesel process. I know because I make biodiesel. The test is performed with a headspace GC. Anyone telling you anything else is a liar. Secondly it is highly unlikely any methanol remains behind after baking the dog treats. Methanol is more volatile than ethanol.
    There is absolutely no reason why the glycerol isn’t being tested for methanol especially for food use. It is easily driven off with heat and vacuum.

  16. bfrerichs says:

    Teddy’s Goodies DO NOT use glycerine or thickeners of any kind! Our treats are pure food! No hormones, steroids or antibiotics, either! While we see others that add glycerine (like Earth Animal, btw), which increases the weight of end product that you get from each pound of chicken or beef, doesn’t that negate what you are trying to achieve? My Teddy has never, ever been sickened, nor any other dog, from our treats. We may not get as much end product, or profits, per pound, but we are proud of what we deliver!

  17. Justine Melville says:

    I have being doing a lot of research on this whole Glycerin thing and the only thing I am not getting a clear answer on is what the difference between “vegetable Glycerin” and plain Glycerin is. By the looks of thing all my research says to stay away from both. Does anyone know for sure. Is vegetable glycerin really from vegetables or can it still be a byproduct of bio-fuel?

  18. Don Clack says:

    I feel like an idiot. We bought the Pur Luv bone treats for our dogs and the smaller one, a yorkie/chihuahua mix, died after being at the emergency pet hospital for 12 hours. I noticed she was lethargic, and then she just collapsed and became unresponsive. Our other dog is larger, a Lab mix, and he has diarrhea, but otherwise seems ok. We only bought these, because they said Make in USA, and “All natural ingredients” on the label. I feel awful that I fed this poison to our dogs.

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