Dogs require a strict diet of essential nutrients to enhance their health. While most dog foods are formulated to provide a balanced diet, certain dogs may need a bit of extra care and attention. A dog's body differs greatly from humans.
What people might view as good or bad for their body might not translate to a dog's needs. This is especially true when it comes to fat.
Low-fat foods are all the rage in today's society, and dog food manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon to provide healthier alternatives for furry friends.
Foods low in fat help dogs retain good heart health and improve certain conditions. However, it's important to understand how a dog is affected by fat and how to distinguish quality between brands.
In a hurry? Here's a quick overview of the recommended formula's.
How Bad Is Fat?
Contrary to popular belief, not all fats are bad. In fact, fats are an essential part of a dog's diet. They provide energy and allow the body to function normally.
Fats are also used to add flavor, making an otherwise unsavory food appealing to dogs.
Many owners make the mistake of thinking that fat is bad because it's not ideal for humans. However, dogs don't have to worry about the same things humans do.
While fat may lead to high cholesterol and clogged arteries in owners, it's actually the opposite for dogs.
Dogs can have high cholesterol levels, but this cholesterol is different.
Called HDL cholesterol, it prevents clogged arteries. This good cholesterol is what makes dogs so resistant to heart problems. When choosing a food, it's important to find an option that still has a good amount of fat.
Dog foods generally have 10 to 15 percent fat. Low-fat options have less than 10-percent. A good way of judging a food is its fat-to-protein ratio.
Generally, around 70 percent or less is the way to go. This simply means that the food has a healthy amount of fat and proteins.
Good Fats vs. Bad Fats
Beneficial fats are crucial to a dog's overall health.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids help avoid a slew of potential health problems like hip and joint issues while keeping their coats in good condition.
Low-fat foods usually stick with these fats. They can come from fish oils as well as meats.
Cheaper fats should be avoided. They will only lead to weight gain and lethargy.
Some brands incorporate cheaper sources to keep prices low, however, they aren't great for a dog's health. These include lard and fat trimmings.
Reasons For Low-Fat Food
The most common reason that a dog owner may consider switching to a low-fat diet is a health condition. Dogs are prone to a number of conditions that can be triggered when introduced to foods high in fat. They will cause dogs to experience potentially painful and messy stomach issues.
Sensitive stomachs are never easy to deal with. Owners need to be careful about what they feed their pups because even the slightest change in formula can wreak havoc.
Too much fat is a common issue because it's harder to digest than other ingredients. While the protein gets through with no problem, the included fat can cause severe issues.
There are a few ways to help alleviate the problem. However, most vets will simply recommend a low-fat diet. By decreasing the amount of fat to only the essentials, dogs will have an easier time absorbing it and digesting the food as a whole.
Weight issues are commonly overlooked by dog owners, but it can affect virtually any breed. Some are more susceptible to obesity than others, but any dog can pack on the pounds because of overeating and too many treats.
Overweight dogs are at risk for a variety of health concerns. They'll experience joint problems, heart issues, and a shorter life expectancy.
Switching to a low-fat food can help put a dog back on track. A reduction in fat is a reduction in calories. It's not a massive dip in calories, but it is enough to make a difference over time.
With physical exercise, a low-fat dog food can help a dog drop the pounds and get healthy again.
This condition can have a big effect on a dog's way of life. In some cases, pancreatitis can be fatal. It occurs when a dog's pancreas becomes inflamed. Because the pancreas helps with digestion, it can throw off the entire process.
Dogs will have a very difficult time absorbing fat and display a number of symptoms. These include diarrhea, pain, fever, lethargy, and much more.
Owners may also notice a direct correlation in their stool. Greasy stool shows that the dog couldn't digest the fat in their foods.
There's no known cause of pancreatitis, so it's something that dogs will have to live with. Owners need to manage the condition by putting less stress on the pancreas. A low-fat diet will make it easier for dogs to digest the food and help avoid further inflammation.
Related: 5 Best Dog Foods for Pancreatitis
What To Look For In Low Fat Dog Foods
When looking for a high-quality dog food that is low in fat, it's important to consider the main ingredients. Dogs will need a good source of proteins and carbohydrates.
Always stick to the good stuff. This includes chicken, beef, sweet potatoes, and brown rice. As a rule of thumb, the more natural an ingredient is, the better it will be for the dog.
The dog food needs to contain omega fatty acids like fish oil and flax seeds. Avoid foods with processed fat and lard. A good low-quality food will have a fat-to-protein ratio of 70 percent or less.
The fat the food has will come mainly from the natural protein. To ensure that the food is healthy and balanced, there should still be a high percentage of proteins in the formula. Here are some of the best low-fat foods on the market today.
4 Best Low-Fat and Heart Healthy Dog Foods
1. The Honest Kitchen Zeal
This dog food from the Honest Kitchen is very unique. It's one of the few dog foods that is freeze-dried and dehydrated. They use natural whole foods, so the little bits that make up the food are actually ingredients that most owners will recognize.
It's superb in lowering fat intake because it only has 8.5 percent in the formula.
The main source of protein is white fish. It's a great ingredient that's high in protein. In fact, the formula has a relatively high amount of protein at 35 percent.
The company managed to keep protein levels high while keeping fat low. Furthermore, the protein used is fish so the remaining fat in the food is omega fatty acids. It also includes plenty of great vegetables and fruits.
Some of the main ingredients are parsley and cabbage. These greens are a healthy source of nutrients and minerals that also help with digestion.
2. Premium Edge Healthy Weight II Chicken Formula
This food is comprised of only 8 percent fat, making it great for dogs that have issues like pancreatitis.
While it is made for dogs that are a bit on the heavier side, its quality ingredients list make it a good option for any dog that needs to decrease their fat intake.
The main source of protein is whole chicken. It makes up 25 percent of the recipe. The formula also has a slew of vegetables and fruits, including carrots, peas, tomatoes, blueberries. It also has a high amount of fiber from spinach and kelp. This helps keep a dog's digestion regular.
Brown rice and cracked barley are the main sources of carbohydrates. It also uses a bit of white rice and potatoes as well. It's a great dog food with basic ingredients for owners that want complete control of their dog's diet.
3. Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight
From Blue Buffalo is their Life Protection line of dry dog food. This food is designed to improve a dog's health with high-quality ingredients and the brand's LifeSource bits. These bits are packed with active nutrients and antioxidants.
While a number of different formulas are used in this line, the Healthy Weight formula is low in fat and calories.
Deboned chicken is used as a source of protein. The chicken makes up a large chunk of the formula to ensure that dogs are receiving a healthy amount of protein. However, it cuts out bad processed fats to cut back on calories. It also uses whole grains, carrots, sweet potatoes, and more.
It includes flaxseed oil for omega fatty acids. The formula uses high-quality ingredients throughout to provide a balanced diet.
4. Merrick Grain Free Healthy Weight
This low-fat formula from Merrick is perfect for dogs that need to lose or manage weight. It is low in calories and fat, but still high in protein.
The brand is also known for their grain free recipes. This particular option uses healthy peas and sweet potatoes as the main source of carbohydrates.
Deboned beef is used for its main source of protein. However, it does use chicken meal. This combination helps the dog food achieve a high protein percentage of 35 percent without adding calories or fat.
Beef is a lean source of protein that helps cut out any unnecessary fat from a dog's diet. However, it does leave behind beneficial omega fatty acids for healthy hips and joints.
Finding a low-fat dog food doesn't have to be difficult. A number of high-quality brands produce foods that cut out the excess fat while keeping those that are favorable.
With the right food, you can manage your dog's health issues and weight while providing a balanced diet.