What are sources of healthy fats for dogs?

Fats in dog foods are typically supplied by from animal fat and plant oils. Quality dog foods will list sources of fat that provide the proper balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Common sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fish oils, including salmon and herring as well as flaxseed and canola oils. Commonly used omega-6 fatty acid sources include pork fat, chicken fat (or any poultry fat), safflower and sunflower oils, as well as corn and soybean oils (vegetable oils). Watch out for lower-quality ingredients such as tallow or lard.

Dogs don’t have to worry about things like high cholesterol, but too much fat can harm them none-the-less. Some fats (especially from table scraps and other people food) can be hard to digest, and too much of it leads to illnesses, such as pancreatitis. Of course, obesity is a problem, too.

Too little is bad, too, resulting in dry, itchy skin, a dull coat and weak immune systems.

The key is balance. A dog’s diet should include about 10 to 15 percent fat (for normal, healthy adult animals) is best to maintain health.

Fats are a concentrated form of energy; they give your dog more than twice the amount of energy as carbohydrates and proteins do. With canines, fats in dog foods are the first nutrients to be used by the body as energy.

Fats are necessary for the normal development and function of body cells, nerves, muscles, and body tissues and they help transport nutrients to the cells. They are also made up of building blocks called fatty acids and there are certain fatty acids that dogs require in their diet because the body cannot make them. These are known as essential fatty acids. These essential fatty acids are divided into two groups called the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Fatty acids in both these groups must be provided in a specifically balanced ratio in the daily diet.

When choosing dog food, be sure to look at the source of fats.

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