Written by Zoe Russell, BSc (Hons)
When choosing the right diet for our dogs, there are a number of factors we consider. We may analyse the product’s ingredients, the price, the size of the bag, the target age, and more often than not, the protein and fat levels. It’s clear to see why the ingredients or the price of a bag may make or break a decision, but what’s so important about the fat level in their diet?
Why do dogs need dietary fat?
Fat is one of six basic nutrient groups, alongside protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. Fat is the most concentrated source of energy (9 calories per gram) meaning dogs will preferentially use fat for energy, especially during periods of endurance activity. Fat not only provides a preferred source of energy for our dogs’ metabolism, but a small amount of stored fat can also be a great insulator against the cold. It is also a highly palatable nutrient which supplies essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6) and is important for the absorption of certain vitamins.
Why might a dog need a low-fat diet?
It’s not uncommon to hear of a dog needing a lower fat diet. In general, dogs may require a lower fat diet simply because they aren’t as active. As fat is a very energy-dense nutrient, diets designed for less active dogs tend to be lower in fat. This helps to minimise the likelihood of weight gain and support their lower energy demands.
The other key incidence where a dog may require a managed fat level in their diet, is when a dog is overweight. Again, fat is the key nutrient here as it provides more than double the calories per gram than either fat or carbohydrates. Therefore, in such cases a low-fat or weight loss diet can be beneficial, as simply reducing their food down and down can risk unbalancing the diet.
What is considered low-fat?
There is no strict definition of low fat in commercial pet foods and so you may notice differing levels between different products. When comparing fat levels between products, it’s important we don’t simply compare the labels we see on-pack. This is because foods will have different moisture levels, making it misleading to simply compare the fat levels on the label.
To compare more accurately, we need to calculate what’s known as the ‘dry matter basis’, which removes the moisture and helps us to accurately compare the nutrient levels of different products. If you need help working this out, then our nutrition team would be happy to help.
A lower fat diet is not only important for weight loss, but also in the case of certain health conditions. For example, in certain cases where a dog is diagnosed with pancreatitis, a vet may recommend a low-fat, highly digestible diet. Other cases where a lower fat diet may be beneficial is in the case of mobility and joint issues. In these situations we want to minimise the likelihood of a dog gaining weight and putting un-necessary pressure on the joints. Therefore, your vet may recommend a lower fat diet to help support a healthy weight and condition and minimise strain on their joints.
Lastly, in general cases where dogs suffer from gastrointestinal issues, diabetes, or high levels of fat in their blood, they may benefit from a managed level of fat in their diet. However, health conditions will always be assessed on a case-by-case basis by your vet.
Our lowest fat diet
At Naturediet we are proud to manufacture the lowest fat wet food on the market. Feel Good Fish contains just 2% fat* and can be an ideal low-fat alternative to many other wet diets. It is also a nutritionally complete and balanced recipe so can be fed on its own, while still providing your dog with all the nutrients they need.
However please note that this is not a prescription diet and is not specifically designed to support the above health issues. Therefore, if you are concerned about your dog’s health, we would always suggest speaking with your vet in the first instance before changing diet.
Feel Good Fish
Shop now18 x 390g cartons
Need a recommendation for your dog? Please contact our nutrition team at email@example.com and we would be more than happy to speak with you.