Feed Your Dog This, Not That: Fat
Most healthy dogs are meant to thrive on a diet that is high in protein and fat. Adequate amounts of fat will provide a variety of health benefits to a dog.
Benefits of Dietary Fat to a Dog:
- Fat is a dense source of energy (calories) that is necessary to keep a dog active.
- Fat provides essential nutrients such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help keep a dog’s skin and coat healthy.
- Fat is important for reproductive efficiency, kidney function and the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and K.
- Fat helps with overall immune regulation, which helps a dog fight off disease and infections.
- Fat serves as a serves as a metabolic source of water, reducing the likelihood of dehydration.
Feed Your Dog This, Not That: Fats
Like with most dog food ingredients, there are good options and bad options when it comes to sources of dietary fat. As a result, I recommend digging deeper than just looking at the total fat content in a dog food. It is worth scrutinizing the ingredient list and choosing foods that use the highest quality, most species appropriate food, to make sure your dog is getting the best possible food.
Fat sources in dog food typically come from three types of ingredients: the main protein source (e.g. salmon or beef), fat itself as a separate ingredient (e.g. duck fat), or in the form of added oil.
Feed “chicken fat”, “pork fat”, or “duck fat”, not “animal fat”, “poultry fat” or “tallow”.
When it comes to fat sources, you should always choose fats that are derived from real, named animals, not generic, non-specific ones. Chicken duck, or pork are specific. Animal and poultry are not, and a pet owner has no idea what such an ingredient is. Furthermore, tallow (and lard) are low quality fat sources that should also be avoided.
Feed “fish oil”, or “herring oil”, not “canola oil” or “vegetable oil”.
When it comes to added oils, pet food companies use a wider variety of sources, many of which are not appropriate for a dog’s body. Fish oil of any type of fish (e.g. salmon, menhaden, herring, etc.) is preferred as it brings anti-inflammatory benefits among others. Canola oil, vegetable oil, and soy oil are all lower quality, often non-specific and highly processed, and offer little health benefit to a dog.