Dog owners are saturated (pun intended) with information about the dangers of high-fat diets. For good reason, as these diets can lead to increased heart disease risk. As is true, for people and dogs, there must of course be some fats in a healthy diet. For dogs, fat is needed for several basic body functions. Also, if you’ve ever seen a treat commercial, you are aware of dog’s love of bacon and other greasy foods. Many food brands tend to add tasty fat to make kibble more palatable.
Dogs are much more naturally resistant to heart disease problems than people, due to the ways their body manages fat and their exercise levels. When dogs have high HDL cholesterol levels, they are less prone to heart problems. To get these levels they need fats—just the right kinds.
Finding the Right Fats
Dogs with severe heart problems should go on salt restrictive diets to better control their blood pressure and decrease risk of a heart attack. Watch the salt amounts on the food labels to identify foods that are too salt rich. This is especially important with treats, which can have a high concentration of salt compared to their overall composition.
It’s also important to keep the right protein balance. Without adequate protein, dogs cannot make certain amino acids, which is linked to higher heart risk.
When reviewing dog food for its effect on the heart, you want to find products with healthy fats. This means Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that can ward off health problems. These come from meats and fish oils, in contrast to cheaper fats from lard or trimmings. The cheap fats bring down the cost of the kibble, but they’re not nutritionally beneficial and can lead to weight gain, which is another trigger for increased heart disease risk.
Considering Low-Fat Diets?
Low-fat diets have their place, especially when they include heart-healthy fats. Here are some other reasons for placing Fido on a low-fat diet:
- Reduce the risk of pancreatitis.
- Slow down weight gain, which can sneak up on dogs, especially as they get older.
- Foods with low-quality fats are dense with calories.
- Relieve stomach problems. Dogs with sensitive tummies often react to low-quality fats such as lard or animal trimmings that are hard to digest properly.
Look for food formulas that are crafted to provide dogs with the optimal balance of salt, fats and protein. A balanced diet will contain the right kinds of fats and proteins that help with a dog’s coat and joints, while decreasing their risk of heart issues. Above all, be sure to talk to your veterinarian to learn more about which formula you can provide your dog to keep their hearts healthy and filled with joy.