If you look at the ingredients list on your dog’s food, you’ll
notice that the fat content is provided, usually as a
percentage. When you see that number, you might wonder, would
it be better to give my pet a food that is lower in fat than
this one? Should I try to eliminate as much fat from my dog’s
diet as I can?
The simple answer to this question is no. Dogs require fat in
their diets to stay healthy and strong, in greater amounts than
do humans. In fact, dogs do not suffer from atherosclerosis, or
hardening of the arteries, like humans do, so fat does not hold
the same risks in dogs as it does in humans. Dogs who don’t get
an adequate amount of fat will not have the energy they need to
run and play. Their coats will be dull and flaky, and they
could even have reproductive problems from eliminating fat from
Of course, too much fat is a problem as well, leading to
obesity and its associated
problems. As in every aspect of your pet’s diet, the proper
proportion of fats for your particular dog will make all the
The Benefits of Fat
First and foremost, fats provide the energy that a dog needs to stay active.
These fats are, essentially, the body’s most potent fuel. In
fact, fat provides more than twice the amount of energy than do
carbohydrates or protein. Without fat in your pet’s diet, he or
she might seem listless and run down as compared to normal.
Fats are also the source of such essential nutrients as omega-3
and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are vital to keeping
your dog’s skin and coat healthy. Dogs that do not receive
enough of these fatty acids can develop skin problems such as
flaking, and their coat will be thin and dull.
Third, fats are necessary for immune regulation, which means
they help with proper cellular function in all cells of the
body, helping to provide your dog with the means to fight off
disease and pathogens.
Finally, and most importantly from your dog’s perspective, fat
makes food taste better! A food without fat in it may be
rejected by your dog come meal time. Given how happy most dogs
are to eat, that would be a sad sight indeed.
How Much Fat?
The essential question here, of course, is how much fat is good
for your dog? How can we make sure that dogs get enough fat in
their diets to receive its benefits without causing obesity and
its attendant problems, such as arthritis and diabetes?
To start with, purchasing high quality AAFCO-approved foods will help.
Commercial dog foods are designed to provide your pet with the
proper proportions of protein, carbohydrates, fat, and
essential vitamins and minerals. Most foods will range between
5 and 10 percent fat, with the lower end being the minimum
amount required for a healthy adult
Certainly, a dog that is very active, especially one that hunts
or herds, will need a higher fat intake than the average family
pet. As well, an older, less active dog may not need as much
fat in the diet as a younger active pet. A dog’s dietary needs
will change over the course of their life, and you can be ready
to respond to these changes as necessary.
How Good Are Oils And Fats For Your Dog?
Just like healthy fats and oils are good for humans, this is
also the case with dogs. Their bodies need 3 main
macronutrients to function. These nutrients are fats, proteins,
and carbohydrates. That makes oils and fats a necessity in a
dog’s diet.Although fats and oils are good, they are only good
in moderation. Obesity and overeating can be a big problem in
the dog community as well. The key is to keep your dog on a
balanced diet and provide him with an adequate amount of
exercise in order to balance his food intake and calories
burnt. In order to know whether fats are good for your dog, it
is important to know what fats are.
FATS – What Are They?
Fats are nutrients that give energy to your dog. They give your
dog twice as much energy as proteins and carbohydrates. Fats
are an important part of a dog’s diet. The first nutrients to
be used by his body as energy, are fats. Fats are made up of
fatty acids (named because of their chemical structure and how
they’re bound). There are healthy fatty acids that a dog
requires because his body cannot make them. These are known as
the essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are divided
into 2 groups. Namely, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. These
fatty acids are to be provided in a balanced ratio with every
The Functions Of Fats
They are essential for the proper function of muscles, nerves,
body cells, and body tissues. They are important for the
production of hormone-like substances in a dog’s body called
prostaglandins. These substances are necessary for decreasing
inflammation and performing many other important bodily
functions.Oils and fats make food taste and smell better to
your dogs. It gives structure to dog foods. Vitamins such as A,
D, K, and E are better absorbed in the body with the help of
fats and oils. Fatty acids help to maintain the shine in your
dog’s coat. They are also important for reproduction.Remember
to choose healthy fats for your dog, as not all types of fats
are beneficial. You can find fats in:
- Animal fats (Pork, chicken etc.)
- Oils from Plants (sunflower oils, safflower oils, corn, and
soybean oils etc.)
- Canola Oil
There are 4 types of oils that are especially healthy for our
dogs. These are:
Krill Oil Comes
from organisms like shrimp and lobsters. These oils decrease
inflammation in the body.
Coconut Oil Coconut
oil is a healthier alternative to processed saturated and
trans fats. The oil helps improve bad breath, alleviate
effects of dry skin, provide more energy, and aids in weight
Flax-seed Oil High
in omega-3, this oil boosts your dog’s heart health. It also
helps with mobility and aids in kidney function.
Fish Oil It has
anti-cancer effects, contains DHA, EPA, and Omega-3 which
helps arthritis, and improves memory. To top it all off, it
also has an anti-inflammatory effect for dogs.
Back to Your Dog Food Questions
Fiber Be in Dog Food?
Next: Which Protein for Dogs Is Best?
This information is for informational purposes only and
is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or
diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. It has however
been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Joe, a board certified
veterinary nutritionist and graduate of Cornell University's
program for Veterinary Medicine.