Whether your pup is getting home cooked scraps, a raw meal or delicious kibble from Scratch, fats and oils are part of your dogs diet.
They can be good for energy to chase magpies, help to keep them full so they’re not nudging the bowl all day, and are vital to maintaining a healthy body and immune system.
Not all oils are equal, and like all ingredients, quality does matter. In fact, if you open up a bag of dog food from the store and it smells bad, it is probably the fats and oils that have gone rancid.
Dog food fats
You’ll often see chicken fat or beef tallow in a lot of dog food ingredient lists. Fats in particular help to add taste, are great for energy and help dogs to feel fuller for longer.
Different fats go rancid easier than others (due to heat, light or oxygen). For instance, beef fat will stay solid at room temperature, but chicken fat will go rancid quickly. It’s really, really important for dog food brands that use riskier fats to ensure that quality and temperature control are consistently high.
Luckily, quality control standards historically are much higher in Australia than the US.
Dog food oils – which ones are healthy?
Oils are primarily there for nutritional reasons, as the main sources of vital omegas.
The most important factor for oils in a healthy dog food recipe is the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. The ideal ratio is around 4:1 but many commercial pet foods are closer to 30:1. While that sneaks under the AAFCO limits, it can create chronic inflammation for dogs.
So while it’s important to have healthy oils, it’s more important to have the right mix of oils. That’s why you’ll find four oils in our Scratch grain-free kangaroo recipe.
The oils in Scratch dog food:
We use a combination of four oils to get a large variety of Omega’s, with the ideal balance between Omega’s 3 and 6. Sunflower Oil is our most used oil, supplemented with Flaxseed, Salmon and Coconut oils to get a healthy range of Omega 3s and anti-inflammatory properties.
Sunflower Oil – Low in saturated fat and high in Vitamin E and Omega-6. Sunflower oil is pretty common in dog food, and present in Scratch.
Flaxseed Oil – Has both Omega-3 & 6.
Coconut Oil – Easy to metabolize, with lots of healthy saturated fats. Coconut oil is pretty high in calories though, so you shouldn’t use too much.
Salmon Oil – High in Omega-3 and more predictable than generic fish oil. Salmon oil is great for controlling inflammation, and provides a lot of DHA which is essential for puppies.
What other oils are used in other dog foods?
Fish Oil – We’ll step into the whole generic ingredients (fish) versus specific named ingredients (salmon) argument here. Fish oil is derived from many fish from the sea, and changes from batch to batch. We avoid it because quality can differ drastically and the quality of the fish sources is largely ignored.
Olive Oil – You don’t see this too much in dog food, primarily due to high cost. Olive oil is probably the best oil for weight loss (but start with portion control) as it’s said to break down the fat inside fat cells.
Soya Oil – Most soy beans are genetically modified these days and not as natural as they once were. Still, it’s cholesterol free but very high in saturated fats and Omega-6 (remember, too much and risk of inflammation increases).
Emu Oil – While Emu oil does help with inflammation (like the salmon oil and turmeric oil in Scratch), Emu oil is largely a marketing-driven ingredient typically used in very small quantities.