Animal based fats are essential for dogs. They need fat for energy, to absorb fat soluble vitamins (vitamins E, A and D), protect the nerve fibers in the body and to protect the body from cold. Fat is also the ingredient found in food that makes it tasty for dogs. In the winter when wolves take down prey, the fat becomes a premium item to help keep them warm and give them energy.
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Fat also contains essential fatty acids, such as omega 6 and omega 3. These help with healthy skin and coat. Dog’s deficient in these fats (most often omega 3) may show skin problems, seborrhea, dermatitis and poor hair coat. It is always important to add EPA fish oil capsules to any dog’s diet. Most foods are abundant in omega 6 fatty acids, so it is necessary to add omega 3 to the diet to help balance these two important essential fatty acids.
Lastly, fats offer a good source of calories. So not only do they add flavor to your dog’s food, plus give them what they are craving, they are also what helps to keep a healthy weight on your dog. And unlike us, dogs don’t get ‘hardening of the arteries’ or have to worry about cholesterol clogging the arteries. They are carnivores and are designed to digest and utilize animal fats. If you see high cholesterol readings in your dog’s blood work, it doesn’t mean to reduce fats in a dog’s diet. But it can mean hypothyroidism or Cushing’s Disease so be sure to have your dog tested for these if cholesterol is elevated.
Fat is what dogs crave most and need, but there are times when we need to reduce the fat in our dog’s diet. We can reduce fat content by:
-Removing the skin from chicken (in poultry, the fat is mainly attached to the skin)
-Using low fat or non fat yogurt or cottage cheese
-Selecting low fat meat and trimming excess fat
-Draining and rinsing canned mackerel, salmon or sardines before serving
-Feeding egg whites but not the yolk
Irritable Bowel Disease, Colitis and other gastric problems
Fat can be hard to digest when the intestines are inflamed. The intestinal lining becomes angry and fat is harder to digest. At these times, I would suggest a lower fat diet and feeding small, frequent meals. This is equally important to help this intestinal lining heal. The small, frequent meals help by putting less stress on the intestines with smaller food amounts. Also helpful are probiotics, animal based enzymes and l-glutamine. Probiotics help restore the good flora and fauna, while animal based enzymes help predigest fat in the stomach, which makes for easier digestion in the intestines. And l-glutamine helps to heal the lining of the digestive tract. The Bertes Digestion Blend is a good source for all of these helpful nutrients. Please refer to the low glycemic, low fat diets link for home cooked recipes.
For more information on gastric problems: http://www.b-naturals.com/newsletter/gastric-problems/
While pancreatitis isn’t caused by fat, fats can aggravate an already inflamed pancreas. As with IBD and gastric problems, it is important to feed smaller, frequent meals and to reduce fat in the diet. Animal based digestive enzymes, such as the Bertes Zymes are important to add to the diet. For more information on diet and causes of pancreatitis:
This a condition caused by a loss to control sugar intake and a dependency on insulin. Since the pancreas is involved, the fat in the diet needs to be reduced. Diet recommendations include low carbohydrate, medium protein and reduced fat. A low glycemic (sugar) diet along with reduced fat is helpful and recipes can be found here:
This disease is caused by adrenal malfunction, in that the adrenals are producing too much cortisol. Dogs with Cushing’s disease are more prone to develop pancreatitis. Symptoms of Cushing’s Disease includes weight gain, a ‘pot belly’ appearance, increased thirst and urination, hair loss, darkening skin pigmentation and panting. It is important to get a diagnosis if your dog exhibits any of these symptoms. Blood work, urinalysis and an ACTH stim test are needed. The low glycemic, low fat diet would be useful for this condition as well.
Sometimes dogs prone to pancreatitis are found to be hypothyroid. This means the thyroid gland isn’t functioning properly and isn’t producing enough hormones. The cause is not understood, but it may be part of an autoimmune disease, where the body attacks the thyroid gland. Symptoms can include hair loss, weight gain, fatigue, high cholesterol readings on blood work, darkening of the skin and occasionally anemia. If you suspect your dog may have some of these symptoms, be sure to have your veterinarian run a 6 panel thyroid blood work to test for this problem. Medications can help bring a dog back to good health. Since weight can be an issue and hormone fluctuation can affect the pancreas, the low glycemic, low fat diet would suit these dogs best.
Epilepsy can be one of the most puzzling disorders in dogs, when it comes to trying to find the cause. Sometimes poisons or chemicals can cause them, or an injury to the head. Newer research suggests some foods may trigger seizure activity, such as glutens (found in many grains) or a high sugar diet. It is thought too much sugar in the diet (found in grains and starches) may cause triggers to seizures to occur. Eliminating grains and starches, using low glycemic vegetables and relying on a good bioavailable source of proteins (containing taurine and l-carnitine) may help inhibit seizures. The Immuno DMG liquid (Dimethylglycine) may also help control seizure incidence. This tincture is made from glycine, an amino acid found in protein. And the low glycemic, low fat diet is useful for dogs prone to seizures.
Time and time again, I see weight loss dog food products on the supermarket shelves and at veterinarian’s offices. When I inspect the label, I see fat and protein are reduced, while carbohydrates and fiber are increased. While we can’t argue these diets are lower calorie, they are certainly offering fewer nutrients and less appetizing foods. When a dog is overweight and most certainly when a dog is a senior that is not the time to reduce nutrients. Senior dogs need *more* protein than adults. Good quality proteins are important for keeping the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs healthy, as well as maintaining a strong immune system. Fat is what satiates a dog when eating, or in other words, satisfies their hunger. Feeding senior diets or weight loss diets keep a dog hungry and searching or begging for food.
Rather than reduce nutrients and lower fat, feed a slightly less amount (10%) and be sure the diet is high enough in proteins and fats to offer nutrients and satisfy the appetite. The goal is to feed a dog between 2% to 3% of their *ideal* or target weight. For more on weight reduction, read here:
While I am not sure if the below YouTube short is funny, or perhaps sad, but it portrays a few examples of what overeating can mean to our dog and cat companions:
“Really Fat Cats and Really Fat Dogs”, with music, “Fat”, by Weird Al Yankovich
Fall is here! Don’t forget to keep your dogs warm, and always keep fresh water available for them whenever they are outside. While fat helps keep dogs warm, hydration is equally important.