Low Fat Dog Food — Good or Bad for Your Pet?

Which Door for Low Fat Dog Food?

Recently, low fat eating has become all the rage. It’s one of today’s most popular human dietary trends.

So, it should come as no surprise that some dog food companies now offer low fat dog food to consumers.

But are these products designed to enhance your dog’s health? Or are they here to help the industry profit from the latest fad?

Why Dietary Fat Might Not Be
a Problem for Your Dog

It’s important to keep in mind — what may be right for your diet may not be the best choice for your dog.

For example, in humans, saturated fats have long been associated with clogged arteries and heart attacks.

But not so for dogs.

Dogs consuming a relatively high fat diet rarely suffer from circulatory conditions. The species appears to be rather resistant to coronary artery disease and stroke1

Canine Cholesterol — It’s Not All Bad

Although dogs can exhibit higher blood cholesterol levels, that cholesterol isn’t typically the artery-blocking “bad” type humans are prone to suffer from.

No, this is HDL cholesterol — the “good” kind that actually helps prevent the build-up of dangerous, life-choking plaque commonly found on the artery walls in humans.2

And that high level of good cholesterol is what’s thought to make dogs so resistant to developing atherosclerosis — the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes.3 4

So, you see…

Most dogs can easily handle a reasonable amount of animal fat in their diets — especially when it’s the natural kind of fat associated with a quality meat ingredient.

Dietary fat can be a good source of energy — and the best way for your dog to get the essential fatty acids needed to sustain life.

When Dietary Fats Can Be a Problem

However, even though fats can be a regular part of your dog’s diet, certain medical conditions may call for feeding a low fat diet. Two of the most common problems include…

  • Pancreatitis
  • Chronic obesity

High fat dog food can cause or aggravate these conditions.

The Pet Food Industry
Choosing Profits Over Quality

It’s no secret, the pet food industry is notorious for using some of the cheapest raw materials it can find.

The amount and quality of fat in a commercial dog food can be negatively affected whenever a profits-first company chooses to use low-quality ingredients like…

The Bottom Line

So, what can you do?

Of course, a reasonable amount of dietary fat can be healthy for most dogs.

A good way to judge the amount of fat in any dog food is to check out our fat-to-protein ratio — found in “The Bottom Line” section of each review on our website.

This figure should — in most cases — be about 70% or less.

However, for those desiring to minimize the amount of fat in their pet’s diet may wish to consider feeding one of the products found on our list of a low fat dog foods.


  1. National Research Council, Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats, 2006 Edition, National Academies Press, Washington, DC, p. 99
  2. McAlister et al (1996), Canine lipoproteins and lecithin: cholesterol acyl transferase activities in dietary oil supplemented dogs, Veterinary Clinical Nutrition 3:50-56
  3. Bauer, JE, 1996, Comparative lipid and lipoprotein metabolism, Veterinary Clinical Pathology, 25:49-56
  4. Wagner et al, 1999, Lipids and lipoproteins, The Clinical Chemistry of Laboratory Animals, 2nd edition, New York, Hemisphere Publishing, pp 181-228
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