The importance of fats and oils in dog food is often misunderstood. Commonly associated with weight gain, fats and oils are sometimes perceived as negative ingredients. In reality, fats and oils are not only beneficial, but vital to a dog’s health. So, what exactly is the importance of fats and oils in dog food?
First, let’s define fats in dog food. Fats are composed of fatty acids, some of which are produced by conversion within your dog’s body. Others, known as essential fatty acids, must be supplied by your dog’s food. Essential fatty acids are divided into two groups: Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. High-quality sources of essential fatty acids in dog food include animal fat, select grains and fish oil. Premium dog foods with real fish as the first ingredient, like Purina ONE® SmartBlend® True Instinct Formula With Real Salmon & Tuna, offer excellent sources of both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
Without these fatty acids, your dog’s body would not function properly. In fact, fats perform multiple roles in your dog’s body. They:
- Provide energy,
- Promote healthy skin and a shiny coat, and
- Help the body absorb vitamins, which helps support the immune system.
Plus, fats make the food more flavorful. So when fat is added to a dog food formula in the appropriate amount, it not only helps to keep your dog healthy, it also makes the food more enjoyable for your dog.
The key to understanding the importance of fats and oils in dog food is balance. Like all ingredients in healthy, balanced dog food formulas, fats and oils need to be supplied in the correct proportions. A high-quality dog food that contains about 10-15% fat is best for a normal adult dog with moderate activity. Active dogs can benefit from a formula with protein and fat. If a dog eats too much fat without getting enough exercise, the dog is likely to gain weight. On the other hand, if a dog doesn’t eat enough fat, he may lack energy and experience dry skin or a dull coat. Check the guaranteed analysis on your dog food package to see how much fat is in your dog’s food. Also, talk to your veterinarian to discuss how much fat your dog needs based on his breed size, life stage and activity level.