Dogs rely on us to provide food for them that is nutritionally complete. Whereas we just eat a variety of different foods all day and eventually eat all necessary nutrition on average. Dogs depend on us to provide that complete nutrition through the food we provide them with. That means that each bite of food they consume needs to contain all 42 essential nutrients for them to flourish. In this blog we will tell you all about the essential fatty acids your dog needs to flourish, what the minimum and maximum intake is, who the organizations are that determine the standards, which foods contain these essential fatty acids, and potential hazards to watch out for.
Organizations that regulate nutritional value in dog foodThe (FEDIAF) represents the pet food industry association in Europe. Their main objective is to ascertain the wellbeing of pets and they have compiled the present “Nutritional Guideline for Complete and Complementary Pet food for Cats and Dogs”, which is based on the latest knowledge on cat and dog nutrition. Pet food should adhere to the necessary nutritional adequacy of essential fatty acids per 100 g of dry matter as specified below.
The types and amount of fatty acids
Fats in general are not essential, only the essential (duh...) fatty acids require a minimum intake. The essential fatty acids that a dog requires are divided into two groups: Omega-3 (Eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid a.k.a EPA & DHA) and omega-6 (Linoleic acid and arachidonic acid a.k.a LA & ARA). “Essential” fatty acids are those that the body cannot synthesis itself and need to be consumed through foods. According to the FEDIAF guidelines your dog’s food should contain at least 5.5% fat (in case of dry food) and puppies under 14 weeks (about 3 months) should stick to a maximum of 6.5% fat. You can find out how much fat there is in your pet’s food on the packaging under the topic “analytical constituents” and then behind the description “crude fat%” .
The function of essential fatty acidsThe fatty acids in dog food are the first elements the body uses for energy, taking precedence over protein and carbs. This is because fats are more easily absorbed and are a concentrated form of energy. In addition to energy, fatty acids are essential for healthy reproduction, coat condition, growth of muscles, nerves, and cells. They also facilitate the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. Finally, they make your dog's meals taste and smell delicious!
Sources of fatty acids
Nuts and seeds are the most notable fatty acids containing foods. You can think along the lines of; peanuts, hazelnuts, roasted cashews, pine nuts, brasil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds. Other great sources of fatty acids in vegetables are coconuts and avocados. Furthermore, legumes like soybeans, chickpeas, and grains such as oats, rye and quinoa also contain a good amount of fat.
Fatty acids to avoid
Trans-fatty acids are a form of unsaturated fat that occur both in natural and artificial forms of fat. They are proven to be unhealthy even in tiny amounts are associated with heart disease, diabetes risk, inflammation, and cancer. They are typically found in chemically altered oil and in the meat and dairy of cattle, sheep, and goats. However, the good news is there are no trans fats in plant-based ingredients at all.
These four essential fatty acids are just a fraction of all the nutrients a dog needs daily. In this blog series; “the 42 essential nutrients your dog needs to flourish” we will address all the of the essential nutrients one-by-one. We will tell you all their purpose, what the minimum and maximum intake is, who the organizations are that determine the standards, which foods contain these nutrients, and potential hazards to watch out for. In the following blog we will tell you about the organizations that determine and regulate the standards of pet food nutrition.