Essential nutrients in dog food
Unlike human beings, dogs need fats and plenty of them. Dietary fats provide your dog with the most concentrated and easily digestible form of energy. (More calories/energy than carbs or proteins). That’s why fats & oils in dog food are so essential.
They’re a source of essential fatty acids and an essential part of your dog’s diet. The most important of these are omega-3 and omega-6.
Fatty acids help control inflammation. They also:
- Help fight against heart disease and cancer
- Support the kidneys
- Help with arthritis and other inflammatory joint problems
- Help improve dermatitis and other skin conditions
- Benefit digestive problems such as IBD and colitis
- Provide protection from the cold
- Help keep the coat healthy and support the immune system
- Assist with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
- Improve both the flavour and the palatability of your dog’s food
- Help your dog feel fuller
Your dog’s fats can come from meat, fish oils, tinned fish and whole milk yogurt. In other words, ideally from animal-based sources.
The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish body oil.
Omega-3 fatty acids
The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish oils. Fish oils contain the perfect ratio of bioavailable EPA and DHA.
As a canine nutritionist, I tend to use salmon oil for my own dogs largely because it’s readily available and moderately priced. You can also use mackerel or sardine oil, although these are both more difficult to find and more expensive to buy.
For those who would prefer to feed their dog a plant-based diet, chlorella and spirulina are good sources of omega-3.
Omega-6 fatty acids
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in abundance in the likes of fresh meat such as chicken and pork and, to a lesser extent, beef.
Even richer sources of omega-6 include the likes of safflower oil, corn, coconut, flax seed, hemp, olive and other plant oils.
If your dog reacts negatively to fat by producing loose stools or stools with a strong odour, reduce the amount of fat slightly.
Naturally, if your dog suffers from a medical condition such as pancreatitis, you would be wise to limit the amount of fat in his or her diet.
Fats in homemade dog food
If you really want to improve your dog’s health, nothing beats homemade dog food.
Especially for anyone new to home cooked dog food, I’ve created a step-by-step guide to making healthy homemade dog food. It includes a number of canine nutritionist- formulated homemade dog food recipes.