Sources of Fat in Dog Food
Just as protein is a crucial component to a dog’s diet, so too is fat, which provides many health benefits as we discussed last week. Talking about fat may not be too “Tasty”, but it is important. So, today we will look at some of the more common sources of fat in commercial dog food products.
The building blocks of fats are fatty acids, some of which dogs require in their diet because their body cannot make them. These are called essential fatty acids and are divided into two groups, the omega-3 and the omega-6 fatty acids.
Like protein, the fat component of commercial dog food should come from named sources. Below is a list of higher quality fat sources in dog food. You will notice that you can recognize the exact source of each of these.
- chicken fat
- herring oil
- canola oil
- sunflower oil
- safflower oil
- flax oil
- beef fat
- lamb fat
- pork fat
In addition, high quality sources of Omega 3 fatty acids include:
Lower quality, questionable sources of fat are of ‘unnamed’ sources including:
- animal fat
- poultry fat
- vegetable oil
- mineral oil
- beef tallow
That list looks scary. Let’s take a look at animal fat. According to AAFCO, here is the definition of animal fat:
Animal fat is obtained from the tissues of mammals and/or poultry in the commercial process of rendering.
The issue with animal fat is that we really don’t know where it comes from. It could be from by-products (which we have written about in the past), slaughterhouse waste, dead or diseased farm animals, and worse (you don’t want to know). Not very appetizing is it? Enough said.
You will notice that fish can provide a rich source of fat (and protein) as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Did you know that there was study done in 2008 that suggested that wolves (dog ancestors) would prefer salmon to other protein sources if it was made available in the wild? I think those wolves are on to something. You can read the article here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6785/8/14/
We are big believers in including fish in our dog’s diet – and our own diets– due to the many benefits of omega-3’s including:
- Improving the coat and skin.
- Reducing inflammation which can markedly help with arthritis and keep your dog moving about pain free as they age.
- Regulating the immune system.
- Improving cognitive function in older dogs.
- Lowering blood pressure.
We use fish oil supplements in conjunction with a diet that includes fish based food and treat formulas to ensure that our dog’s are getting their omega-3s.