Lack of toxicity by medium chain triglycerides (MCT) in canines during a 90-day feeding study

Food Chem Toxicol. 2009 Jan;47(1):35-9. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2008.06.080.


Dietary fats in food are natural energy sources to animals and are included in the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) manual as a requirement for dog food. Medium chain triglycerides are comprised of a glycerol backbone esterified to medium chain length (8-12 carbon) fatty acids (FA) and, in the context of this report, are all saturated FA. Unlike esterified long chain (>12 carbons) FA (long chain triglycerides or LCT), MCT are lower in caloric value, and are eliminated from the body more quickly than LCT. The objective of this study was to determine the safety of MCT when fed to beagles for 90 days at levels of 0%, 5%, 10%, and 15% MCT added to conventional feed. The beagles were monitored for signs of toxicity by clinical observations, body weight measurements, food consumption level, physical examinations, hematology and serum chemistry, ophthalmic examinations, and urinalysis. There were no signs of toxic effects observed in any of the animals that were related to feed, and the animal viability was 100% at the end of the study. Some animals exhibited significant increased blood urea nitrogen, potassium and cholesterol levels in the 10% and 15% MCT-fed groups. Also, in the same groups with elevated nitrogen, there were concomitant reductions in total blood protein and urine volumes. These changes in serum chemistry may be the result of protein sparing effects due to the high levels of MCT intake, and are not deemed to be pathological in nature. Animals receiving 15% MCT in feed had lower levels of food intake due to palatability issues. From the other examination parameters, there were no significant changes noted between groups receiving MCT and vehicle feed. No safety concerns were noted at any dose level, although an issue with palatability precluded identifying 15% as the highest dose level tested.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed / analysis*
  • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Animals
  • Diet / veterinary
  • Dog Diseases / chemically induced
  • Dogs
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Male
  • Triglycerides / administration & dosage
  • Triglycerides / adverse effects*
  • Triglycerides / chemistry*


  • Triglycerides