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
  • Lulu3333

    Helen Stone, get your dog tested for hypothyroidism. My vet says Goldens are prone to it which can cause these breeds to gain weight.

  • Helen Stone

    My Golden Retriever was diagnosed with pancreatitis just after Christmas (he was apparently given the fat off the gammon joint on Christmas Eve, we think that’s what caused it) – I changed his food to the lowest fat of his current brand – Country Choice grain free – he was on the lamb and veg and now has the salmon and sweet potato as it’s only 8% fat instead of 10 – however since then he’s put on 2.5kg!!!! We have been so careful, no titbits, king filled from his daily kibble – just don’t understand – any suggestions???

  • ch2856

    One advise to all. I see a lot of people looking only at the % only and not at the total amount of fat. It’s wrong since with one brand you feed 300 grams (for example) and with others you might feed 400 grams. In that example a 20% fat on the first one would be equal to 15% on the other one.

  • Deborah

    I have a very unique situation with my 7yr Standard Poodle. She was diagnosed with pancreatitis in Dec. Her lipase and amylase levels were moderately high along with an elevated ALT. She was placed on the typical treatment for pancreatitis and her levels came down some with a complete return to normal of her amylase. The big issue is that her lipase and ALT have never returned to normal the lipase norm high is 500 and her’s runs 800-900. She has multiple food sensitivities and is now on boiled and rinsed gr beef, sweet potato and pumpkin. She did not tolerate prescription dog food, limited ingredient kibble or raw. UGH
    She also has some reflex difficulties. She had been seen by a holistic vet who also diagnosed upper and lower bowel inflammatory disease
    She is a very difficult patient and our regular vet is at a loss as to what kind of diet to put her on to ensure a fully balance tolerated diet that will also meet caloric needs since she has lost weight. If any one has any good recipes that maybe of value to me it would be extremely appreciated. I feel so helpless, she is such a wonderful dog and deserves all I can do to help her. Thanks

  • Elle

    https://www.morepetfoods.co.uk This is only a suggestion based on the weight loss aspect. They do other varieties for senior dogs etc. But it’s best to find out why your vet suggested SD or RC. If it’s because they’re a low protein diet or something then More isn’t the answer as its high in fresh chicken and chicken meal. But if it’s for weight loss more is a great option.

  • HeatherLG

    If you happen to have a link that would be wonderful ~ searching for MORE is not working for me.

  • Elle

    Hi Heather,

    The problem with RC and SD is that they both contain cereals (which contribute to weight gain as dogs cannot easily digest grain) and often they do not have a specific flavour because of the lack of meat. In most of RC you will notice the packaging contains ‘dehydrated poulty protein’ which you don’t know why it’s been dehydrated and what poulty it comes from. If you’re looking for just a low fat diet try More Light — more being the brand name. It is not a mainstream brand and isn’t sold in Pets At Home or Jolleys. It contains 9% fat I believe but also contains a high meat content, no cereals only a few types of grain (rice and maize to fill the dog up without all the sugars) and finally the bit that really helps is L-Carnatine. Which I think RC contains but only a small amount (a trace element or near enough) which isn’t going to do much help. L-carnatine helps turn fat into useable energy therefore helping the dog to burn the fat. I know lots of people who’s dogs have lost a fair amount of weight just by switching foods — no reduction in quantity or hungry dog. Also More has a lot higher quality ingredients than lots of dog foods you will find along with being a fixed recipe, so an all round winner!! Hope this helps!

  • theBCnut

    Do a search here to learn what dry matter basis is all about. Basically, if a food is 80% water, 12% protein, and 4% fat, when it’s converted to dry matter, it’s 60% protein and 20% fat, which is not low fat. Dry matter is a way to compare foods with different water contents. If you need a good quality food that is low fat, look at the Honest Kitchen Zeal.

  • HeatherLG

    My dogs blood tests were so that my vet recommended changing to low fat canned for like Science Diet i/d and I am not a fan of SD so I am on the search for info and help if you have learned anything since your post! Thanks in advance!!

  • HeatherLG

    Where is that answer please ~ I am shopping for a low fat diet and this is the comment I have made other places “but after annual blood work on my 17 year old it was suggested to put my girl on low fat Science Diet or Royal C. and I am not really a fan of either brand but the fat content on the SD seems much lower (max of 4.0%) than any of the ones listed on dogfoodadvisor 🙁 Thanks in advance for any help!!”

  • HeatherLG

    but after annual blood work on my 17 year old it was suggested to put my girl on low fat Science Diet or Royal C. and I am not really a fan of either brand but the fat content on the SD seems much lower (max of 4.0%) than any of the ones listed on dogfoodadvisor 🙁
    Thanks in advance for any help!!

  • HeatherLG

    I am not awake enough to read this thread right now but after annual blood work on my 17 year old it was suggested to put my girl on low fat Science Diet or Royal C. and I am not really a fan of either brand but the fat content on the SD seems much lower (max of 4.0%) than any of the ones listed on dogfoodadvisor 🙁
    Thanks in advance for any help!!

  • theBCnut

    Does your vet have any idea what caused the pancreatitis in the first place? If it was dietary indiscretion, you may be able to slowly transition back to the food you were feeding him. Just take it slow. Also, to increase his weight, slowly increase his food. Don’t increase it by more than about 20%. It’s important that he gains the weight back gradually.
    If your vet has decided that he needs to stay on low fat food, you may want to look at The Honest Kitchen Zeal.

  • Lori

    I have an interesting problem. My American Cocker Spaniel is approching his 18th birthday. 2 weeks ago he had his first Pancritius attack. Was in the hospital for 2 days on IV’s. His Vet put him on Royal Canin GI Low fat. The plot twist here is he has never been overwieght. His healthy weight is 25 lbs. since his sickness he’s down to 18 lbs. He has fully recovered but how do I get him to gain weight on a low fat diet?? I want to switch from Royal Canin to something less expensive, but what??

  • Pitlove

    Ah alright. Mine is the same way on GF, better poops etc, but I think it’s because he’s only ever eaten grain inclusive once in his life. His body might not know how to process grains yet.

    Main thing to do with whatever food you feed as long as it’s a low carb/calorie food is to feed for the weight you want to see her at.

  • Shea

    Thanks! I tried her on the Wellness small breed healthy weight formula. She absolutely hated it. The wellness core kibble is too big for her and she wouldn’t touch that either. I was thinking about trying a grain inclusive food next to see if it makes any difference. I thought with her paw licking that gf might help but it really doesnt. She has done well on gf though as far as firmer stools goes.

  • Pitlove

    Not all GF foods are created equal thats true. Do they cause weight gain? Not that I’ve seen. My dog is able to maintain ideal weight on GF and grain inclusive. One thing that is important is making sure it has a high amount of animal meat protein. The first 3 ingredients should be whole meats or meat meals. Check out WellnessCORE Reduced Fat. Lots of people have had success with weight loss for their dogs on that food.

  • Shea

    I will start feeding her a little less. I was feeding about a cup a day but will cut back to maybe 3/4. Thanks for your advice!

  • Shea

    The vet told me she should be around 10 pounds. Ive also been reading that grain free foods can cause small indoor dogs to gain weight. Im so confused! Thanks for your advice!

  • theBCnut

    My 14.5 year old JRT eats a fat % of between 20 and 25% and isn’t overweight at all. Just adjust how much you are feeding.

  • Pitlove

    trying cutting back on how much they are eating. Feed for the weight you want to see them at, not their current weight.

  • Shea

    I have a 12 pound mixed maltese. The vet said she was a couple of pounds over what she should be. I have recently been feeding her Fromm grain free. I was so glad she finally likes a dry food. But the fat in this food is 17%. I was wondering if this is too high a fat percentage for a housedog thats 8 years old.

  • Shari Wolfe

    Mike, recommendations would be greatly appreciated, for those of us, who have dogs recuperating from pancreatitis, or suffer from chronic pancreatitis. Any recommendations for some foods?
    Thanks, Shari

  • Shari Wolfe

    Lin, one of my Cavaliers is recuperating from pancreatitis, and we changed from Orijen Six Fish to Nature’s Logic Sardine, which is less than 10% fat, compared to Orijen’s 18%. I also feed all three of my Cavaliers Honest Kitchen Zeal (fish), which is less than 10% fat, as well. This is a dehydrated raw food, which you rehydrate, when preparing. I also know that Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Sweet Potato and Fish is 10% fat.
    I would appreciate some additional feedback here, from anyone who is familiar with the foods I’ve mentioned.


    L Carnitine has recently been shown to be the *real* reason why there’s correlation between animal fat and coronary artery disease. It creates an inflammatory state in the cardiovascular system that encourages clogging. I would never supplement any living being with carnitine on purpose.


    Doctors are kind of known for being total dicks. That’s why technology is soon to replace them and their obsolete profession.

  • Laura McKinney

    My chihuahua/poodle mix is about 4-5 lb overweight. I’ve been giving her Natural Balance for Fat Dogs. Recently I cut the dog food to 1/3 cup in the morning and 1/3 cup at night. I mix some frozen peas and carrots with it to help her feel more full. She is very food motivated. So far she has lost about half a lb in the last month. My question is: how much crude fat should be in a dog food when you’re trying to take weight off a dog? How do I know she is getting the right balance of nutrition?

  • Pattyvaughn

    I answered you in the other thread, Dry Matter vs wet.

  • hairyKid mom

    My shih zhu is 15. She was diagnosed with Pancreatitis. The FreahPet rolled chicken, rice and veggies states it is 6% fat. According to the guidelines on the low fat food, it is well below the fat recommendation for acceptable food. Is there something I am missing here?

  • Steve Bergman

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

    When the sum total of research over the decades is evaluated objectively, this turns out not to be true. At least not for *dietary* saturated fat, as opposed to blood levels of saturated fat, which are two different, and largely unrelated, values. Probably the best and most comprehensive meta-analysis of the data on dietary saturated fat collected over the last several decades is:

    Patty W Siri-Tarino, Qi Sun, Frank B Hu, and Ronald M Krauss (2009)

    which concluded that “there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD”.

  • Ioana Mihaesi

    I need help with my miniature schnauzer food. I currently feed her Earthborne Primitive grain free and she absolutely loves it but I am concerned that it is too high in protein and fat 38 protein and 20 fat. I need a low fat with less than 30 protein grain free formula. Please advise which are the best.( need also to be available in Australia).

  • Hound Dog Mom

    You can’t deprive a dog of carbohydrates as dogs have no dietary requirement for carbohydrates – they are carnivores and can subside on protein and fat alone. Miniature Schnauzers are also notorious for having a low tolerance for fat so if your veterinarian advised you to keep the fat levels in his diet low I would heed the advice, otherwise you may end up with a case of pancreatitis. You could talk to your vet about his activity level and/or try a new food and see if anything changes.

  • Ken Garcia

    I have a 10 year old Miniature Schnauzer. He recently had full blood work and the Dr. said his blood had high fat content. So I changed his diet to a canned beef with low fat mixed with a raw fish/vegetable food. His coat looks great and he lost about 2 lbs down to 19.5lbs but his activity decreased dramatically. He has always been active and extremely play full and I am not sure if I am depriving him of fat or carbs.

  • lol!

  • losul

    IT IS PERCENT not a decimal place before the percent – that would be thousandths less. Five percent is 5% is equal to .05 or 5/100 when idiots express it as .05% it is equal to .0005 – learn to use the math people – no wonder our pets are in trouble, we cannot even count.”

    Woah, I’m glad you’re not my doctor. Sandy stated it correctly. 0.2 % means 2 tenths of one percent or 2 parts per thousand.

  • The Doctor

    IT IS PERCENT not a decimal place before the percent – that would be thousandths less. Five percent is 5% is equal to .05 or 5/100 when idiots express it as .05% it is equal to .0005 – learn to use the math people – no wonder our pets are in trouble, we cannot even count.

  • diane

    my dog who weighs 9 pounds and is 5 years old was recently diagnosed with pancreatitis.  i switched his dog food to natural choice adult weight loss diet because the fat content is 7 -10 percent, protein 23 percent and3000  kcal.  is this a good dog food for a dog that is not overwieght, but needs to maintain a low fat diet

  • 4Rosie4

    When 9-yr old vizsla was diagnosed with pancreatitis, my vet told me to give her boiled chicken, brown rice with some veges. Then gradually add some low fat dry kibble, with the fat % 7-8% max. After tons fo research, I put her on Precise Light for the kibble. I have continued this mix and she has not had another pancreatitus attack inthe past year. I find the % of fat recommented in the foods listed here as low-fat much too high for a pancreatitic dog. I’m not sure why Precise Light wasn’t even mentioned. the Precise Holistic is 11% fat.

  • eric

    I have a 3 year old Chessie who is extremely fit and very active.  however, the vet has said i need to switch to low fat diet due to high cholesterol.  his customary food has been blue buffalo.  anybody have any suggestions on type/brand of food that will meet his needs?

  • Jan_Mom2Cavs

    Just an fyi, in case you don’t know already :), Wellness is changing their Simple Solutions.  They are adding more ingredients to them, so I don’t know if the salt content will be affected.  If you’re considering Wellness SS I’d call the company and ask about this….there are still bags of the SS (current formula) on the shelves and I don’t know how long it’ll take to get the new formulas out, but I wouldn’t want to start a food and then have to “redo” things later.

  • monkey

    Talk to your vet about L-carnitine and taurine supplements as well!

  • monkey

    mdhaegele, if you are looking for kibble.. email Wellness and ask what their Simple Solutions Duck formula sodium is. I think i remember it being really low (around .13%)

    You may also want to consider raw. That would be your best bet.

  • daisy1999

    I think the problem is is that I’m not sure there are any actual marketed “low sodium” foods except prescription foods.  And, unfortunately dog food companies aren’t required to list sodium content, but some do.  So, making a list would be difficult.  But, in dealing with this before I have some ideas that hopefully will help.  Low fat doesn’t automatically = low sodium.  To keep the sodium down, you are prob. going to want to stay away from the grocery store brands-most are salty.  Get a good quality food and it should be lower in sodium + nutrition is very important with this disease.  Absolutely no table scraps.  Treats-try pieces of fruit, veggies, meat-get rid of the boxed ones.  Get a food high in protein, lower in carbohydrates.  Fat wise-if your dog is overweight due to not being able to exercise choose a lower fat food.  But, if they are losing weight/muscle from disease, go higher fat.  I know this seems like a lot, but just try and put the rec. together then check out 4/5 star foods on here and come back with questions.  Good luck 🙂

  • Mdhaegele

    I have a dig with congestive heart failure. Does low fat foods also mean low sodium? You don’t have an article that gives recommendations for low sodium foods so I was wondering if lowering the fat also lowered the salt?

    And perhaps one day I will see a low sodium list on here! That would be stellar!

  • melissa


    I own several dogs with pancreatitis issues(breed related) I kept the food under 10-12 percent fat for many many months, and then gradually brought it up, oh so slowly. Now all, except one can eat moderate fat foods-up to about a 14/15 percent level. One has  to stay at 10-12 percent and she eats Blue Buffalo wilderness healthy weight.

  • Stjohnml

    Hi Layne,
    I am in the same boat with my 6 yr old Labradoodle, he is fighting his 2nd bout of Pancreatitis in 2 mos.  I am trying to get his diet changed to something “Low Fat”.  We also have a 6 mos old puppy that has High fat puppy food, it is quite a challenge to keep them out of each others foods.  
    My concern is if this is going to be a chronic Pancreatitis for him or just because he got into puppy food a few times.  He was in ICU first go round, 2nd time I brought him home with IV for home fluids.  
    I am desperate to get him healthy and feeling better. Any suggestions for foods? That you have tried?

  • The only low fat foods that I would even consider feeding would be Amicus, Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight, Core Reduced Fat and some others from the “Suggested Low Fat Foods” list but only if the dog needed a low fat food for other medical reasons than being fat!!

  • I don’t have large dogs but do have and foster pugs. They all have lost weight on foods like Earthborn  (grain free). I just reduce their portion. Mine never eat the suggested amount on the bag but less and they get very little treats, meat treats if possible and even the kibble can be used as treats. This one lost 10 pounds eating Blue Buffalo Wilderness.

  • Amanda Brzoska

    What IS a good solution for an overweight dog?  We just adopted a 3 1/2 year old yellow lab that is overweight.  We feed her (and our other dog) Earthborn Holistic Primitive Natural.  She is getting more exercise, but the weight isn’t coming off.  Should I cut down on the kibble and feed her veggies?  I don’t see any high quality low fat dog foods out there.

  • Bob K

    Emily – What is your dog eating today?  Do they have other formulas that are 3 stars or better?  Who said he is allergic to chicken?  How did they prove or test for the chicken allergy?  Remember to transition slowly to a new dog food.     Perhaps a few less treats and people food.  Are you feeding him the proper amount?  Usually joint supplements are better than the little extras that are often in Sr. Dog foods if your dog needs the benefit.

  • Emilygeitner

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a 10 year old husky/chow mix dog, allergic to chicken who needs a low-fat or lower fat % dog food.  He carries a little extra weight (even with nice long walks) so I would like something that won’t add to his weight…or maybe help in reducing it.  Since he’s on the older side, something that would benefit his joints would be awesome too.  Please help!  I am looking online and its really confusing!

  • Hi Pam… For the most part, the only thing that would probably matter for small breeds is the size of the kibble. But with puppies, there are a number of important parameters that can make a big difference in providing proper nutrition.

    To learn more about feeding for life stages, please visit my FAQ page and look for the topic, “AAFCO Nutrient Profiles”. Hope this helps.

  • Hi Cheryl… Like all things in life, the word “low” can mean different things to different people. First of all, please remember you MUST mathematically remove 100% of the water from a food before you can make an appropriate comparison. This is known as dry matter basis.

    The percentages you posted here are not likely to be on a dry matter figures.

    In any case, there’s no way for me to know if the foods we listed in our Suggested Low Fat Dog Foods article are medically appropriate for your dog. They are all listed on a dry matter basis. Once you check the list, you may wish to

    Unfortunately, since I’m not a veterinarian and due to the biological uniqueness of each pet, it would be inappropriate for me to provide specific health advice or product recommendations. Please see our FAQ page and our reviews for more information. Or check back for a possible response from one of our other readers.

    Hope this helps.

  • Pam Smith

    We have a new 5mo old, 2.4lb pomapoo who has been on Purina Puppy since the breeder. I have been trying to slowly introduce Wellness small breed puppy formula which he promptly picks out of his bowl. I also have a 3 yr old lab who loves Kirklands lamb/rice. The little guy keeps trying to get into the labs raised bowls for food. He seems to like lamb so I was thinking about changing his food over to one with lamb like Solid Gold or Blue Buffalo’s lamb & oatmeal. What about feeding both pups an “all life stages formula”. Is that bad for small breeds? Im confused and want to get my pup off of puppy chow asap. thanks!!

  • Cheryl

    My Silky Terrier has been prescribed a low fat diet by Vet. He feels her liver and says it seems enlarged. However we have had the Cushing’s Test, Thyroid and two Liver test and all are negative. And I am out of a lot of money for test. He has prescribed Royal Canin GI Low Fat however, it has pork parts. It claims only 1% crude fat. I am skeptical about it. Is there something else with low fat she is about 1.5 lbs overweight and for her size the Vet wants her at 7lbs. I was feeding her Petfresh, Turkey,Chicken, with Rice, Peas and Carrots. But the fat content is 7% crude. Can you please recommend a diet for her?

  • Hi Sharron… There are a number of low calorie (per serving) dog foods available on the market. Most likely, you’re simply overfeeding your dog. Please see our FAQ page. Look for the topic, “Weight Loss for Dogs”. And be sure to click on the different links included in the FAQ. Hope this helps.

  • sharron

    Hi Mike

    I know i have asked questions many times in the past about feeding my slightly overweight yorkie/chihuahua perhaps you can help me out once again?
    I have lexee on Hills R D canned but she is always hungry!!
    Is there another canned food that is suitable for losing weight that will make her feel full. I have tried veggies in between meals that was a no go. She won’t eat dry, so let’s not suggest that option. She needs to lose a lb. to a 1 1/2 lbs.

    thanks again

  • Hi Dave… Actually, Carna4 is already on my To Do list. However, due to my current backlog of products for review, it could be a while longer before I get to it.

    You asked, “is high quality canned like ZiwiPeak… preferable to high quality kibble made of whole foods and human grade”?

    In general, the closer any food is to “fresh”, the better it usually is. So, all things equal (which they rarely are), kibble is the furthest from fresh a dog food can be.

    However, a high quality kibble can be superior to a poor quality canned or raw food. Some (but not many) commercial raw foods are nothing more than fatty connective tissue and by-products left over after slaughter.

    The short answer… as always, the quality of a dog foods all depends on the individual product. Hope this helps.

  • Dave M


    When you get a chance please review carna4 http://www.carna4.com – I wonder is high quality canned like ziwipeak would be preferable to high qualoty kibble made of whole foods and human grade.

  • Bill

    Thanks guys.

  • Hi Shawna… You make an excellent point here. In a future update to our dashboard (and in addition to our current dry matter basis figures), we’ll be posting the protein-fat-carb calculations as a percentage of total energy (calorie) content, too.

    These numbers can be most revealing. And I’d expect some of our current ratings will probably change once a truer picture of fat content is taken into consideration.

  • Shawna

    Hi Bill,

    I’d stick with the 26% protein personally. As Mike stated, in the ancestral diet more calories came from protein then from fat. Therefore the increase in fat should be seen along with an increase in protein – as you were seeing in the grain free foods. In the foods you are listing the protein goes down as the fat goes up. This can displace protein from the diet.

    There are 9 calories in every gram of fat. There are only 4 calories in every gram of protein however. The large breed food then has 104 calories from protein and 108 from fat (certainly not the 49% to 44% Mike refers to). The adult chicken is even worse when you look at calories 96 from protein and 126 from fat. Just my opinion 🙂

  • Bill

    Thanks for the reply Mike,
    But the foods I looking at are your 4 or 5 star rated foods.
    So i’m sure you wouldn’t of rated these foods so high if they were using inferior sources. My current food BB large breed is 26% protein & 12% fat, and I was thinking of switching him over to the BB adult chicken which is 24% protein 14% fat. There are a lot of good dry dog foods with a fat percentage at 12%. My dog is a little more than 1 year old and is not over weight. Am I better off with more protein or more fat? Don’t want to go grain free right now since I’m unemployed.

  • Hi Bill… Usually (but not always), foods higher in protein are also higher in fat, too. Fats are a normal part of a dog’s natural ancestral diet. According to Steve Brown’s excellent book, “Unlocking the Canine Ancestral Diet”, fats (as a percentage of total calories) made up 44% of a dog’s diet. And 49% came from protein. This is admittedly a bit higher than the standard dry matter basis we use here at DFA.

    However, this number doesn’t always tell the whole story. It’s the quality of those fats too that can also make the difference. There’s a notable difference between the quality of the fat used to make a dry kibble and the fat naturally found in a raw whole animal (like chicken). Provided they represent the whole animal, raw fresh foods win out nearly every time.

    But be careful. Some dog foods get their fats from inferior sources (like vegetable oil). Or the meat sources themselves come from inexpensive connective tissue, fatty trimmings and by-products remaining from a slaughtered animal.

  • Bill

    I’ve read on line that dog foods with a crude fat content of 14% or higher are actually better for dogs specially with their coats. Is this true. I feed my dog Blue Buffalo Longevity, but I’ve noticed that the grain free foods such as, Wilderness, beside having a lot more protein also have higher fat contents.

  • Connie

    I am trying to read the label and understand the fat content. Most labels say min. ___ % crude fat. That doesn’t really tell me anything. What is the max? I don’t want a high fat, but if the label states 4% min crude fat, then it could have 80% fat and I would have no way of knowing. I hope this makes sense. Thanks for your help.

  • Hi Jennifer… Most legitimate pet (and human) food companies hate dog food recalls more than we do. It costs them a fortune both in conducting the recall itself as well as in the loss of future sales. So, they are quite motivated to avoid these events like the Plague. I’ve never found a scientific study of any kind proving that any food recall is predictive of future ones.

  • Jennifer

    How important are pet food recalls in the sense that, in looking for a new dog food, I google “pet food” (whatever the brand is) and recall… if it hits with anything legit, I stop looking at that food. So, how important are PAST pet food recalls in determining the validity of the food you would like to feed your pet.

  • Jonathan

    Layne, did you read the article, or just the first two lines before posting your complaint? Mike does state the potential medical problems that do, in fact, require low fat foods.

  • Layne

    A “Low-fat” food isn’t always for greed and hype. I have 3 dogs with digestive issues. One is currently hospitalized for Pancreatitis. Eating a diet that isn’t low fat will kill him. These dogs MUST have a food with less than 10% fat content. Cholesterol isn’t an issue with dogs as it is with humans, but elevated Triglicerides in a dog hould be of concern.

  • Hi Heather… With allergies, you’re certainly not alone. You may find our recent article, “Suggested Hypoallergenic Dog Foods” helpful. Give it a quick read and check out the list of foods. Then compare them to the Hill’s product and see if you can find one you and Shadow would like. Remember, be sure to transition to any new food very gradually.

  • Heather

    Hey Mike, Just came back from the doctor today, for our golden retriver her name is Shadow. She has skin allergies. Her ears are infected, she has red little skin irritations all over her body and a little cut where she has chewed her paw. I had no idea she was this bad till just the other day and I feel terrible. The Dr. said she is allergic to her dog food, because she has ear infections a lot and she has all the signs of a dog allergic to some of the ingredienets put in dog food. So he suggested perscription Hill’s z/d Ultra Allergen free. This is super expensive so I have been searching the web for similar food at a much lower cost. This web site did not have a good review for the hill’s which concern’s me. I really don’t want to cause her anymore discomfort. We are slowly giving her the food by mixing it with her old dog food. Which food would you reccomend? Please don’t say I have to make her food. I have two other goldens and 3-kids so making dog food is not going to happen. If that is best I will find time I’m only kidding.

  • Hi Kathy… Please be sure to read my response to your last comment (on my By Nature 95% Meat review). Also, you have chosen a food (By Nature 95% Beef) that is extremely high in fat. So, if your dog cannot tolerate a fatty diet, you should probably discontinue that food immediately.

  • Kathy

    PS to the above post. He cannot tolerate any poultry products at all.

  • Kathy

    I posted on another article about my Coton de Tulear who died of pancreatitis/kidney failure while being fed EVO 95% beef canned food. The Coton de Tulear I have now has IBD and can’t seem to tolerate a lot of fat. For instance I cannot give him fish oil. He has been eating Wellness Simple Solutions Lamb & Rice canned food mixed with sweet potato to cut the fat. He is really bored with it so I have given him some of the EVO 95% beef mixed w/sweet potato occassionally. But it scares me because of the dog we lost. Also, I am not happy about Natura being sold to P&G. So I got a case of by Nature 95% beef and am giving him some of it. His stools have been a little loose but not terrible. Do you know how the actual fat content of the by Nature compares to the EVO. Also do you know how it compares to the Wellness SS Lamb and Rice. I know what the “minimum fat” content listed for each is, but I understand that is not the “actual” content.

  • Hi Diane… Since I spend much of my spare time reviewing commercial products, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be much help. It would be better for you to have your question answered by an expert in preparing homemade dog food. Maybe one of our readers will see your note and share their advice.

  • diane

    Hi Mike.
    I know you review different dog food companys. I am hoping you will be able to answer my question about homecooking.
    I am making my own can dog food. My questions is if i cook ground turkey that is 80/15. Should take out the fat after it is cooked. When i boil the turkey, and leave it sit overnight the fat comes to the top. Or should i leave it in when i add the veggies, and put it in my food processer? Is this the kind of fat you are saying that is good for my dogs?
    thank you.

  • Hi Brion… Since I’m neither a veterinarian or an animal nutritionist, I’m not sure how much you can rely on my opinions. In any case, you and your friend have touched on a controversial subject.

    Even with selective breeding, it seems to me it would be most difficult to completely erase a dog’s natural carnivorous bias in just 15K years (a mere blink of the eye in the context of canine evolution).

    I still like to think of a dog as a natural carnivore… though a carnivore with omnivorous capabilities.

    Today’s kibble is a relatively recent invention… a mechanically-influenced “bakery product” averaging over 50% carbohydrates. For a look at what many of us believe to be the real reason behind the explosion in the growth of carbohydrates in a dog’s diet, you may want to read my 2009 article, “Dog Food Carbohydrates… a Surprising Secret Revealed“.

    Kibble just seems to be more an economical convenience than anything truly “natural”. In most recipes, kibble’s simply the furthest thing from a dog’s natural ancestral diet you can feed.

  • Brion Hart

    Dr. Sagman,
    I cannot tell you how happy I am that I happened on to your website. My wife and I are puppy raisers for future guide dogs so we are always looking for expert information that will help us raise the pups and increase our knowledge base (people ask us questions all the time).
    In discussing canine nutrition with a friend of ours, specifically while reading your reviews, he had questions about %s of meat content in dog food and if dogs of today (domesticated and bred, quite different from Timberwolves and 15k years of time) were still as reliant on meat as the wolves may have been?
    He has recently changed to one of the diet dog foods (Costco)to address a mild overweight condition of his Lab/Golden cross.
    Anything you can tell us will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    Kind regards,

    Brion and Kim Hart and “Nura,” a 9-week old Yellow Lab FGD.

  • Hi Michelle… As I understand, low fat dog foods are probably the right choice for dogs (like yours) with a history of pancreatitis. However, the main goal of my website is to review and rate dog foods and not to recommend a particular product for a specific health condition.

    I wish I could help you more, but since I’m not a veterinarian, I haven’t been properly trained to provide you with the kind of sound professional advice you’re looking for.

  • Michelle Miller

    Hi Mike,

    I read with interest your commets on pancreatitis dog food. I have two pancreatitis standard poodles and the most recent flareup produced a recommendation for my 6 year old pup, Rumey, of Royan Canin LF 20. Have you reviewed this food? We are considering using the Kirkland Low Fat food that you have reviewed. Is this a good choice for us?

  • Wendy

    Thanks Mike! I appreciate your help.

  • Hi Wendy… I tend to agree with your vet. Dogs being treated for pancreatitis would probably benefit more from a low fat dog food than controlling carbs. Since I am not a veterinarian I feel it would be misleading to give you an exact fat content to look for. However, I can give you a recommendation based upon the large database we maintain on commercial dog foods.

    The average fat content in a kibble is about 14% on an “as fed” basis (that’s the way it’s reported on the package)… or below 15% on our website where we use “dry matter basis”. Fat content is generally much higher in canned foods (about 23% dry matter, on average).

    So, try to find a 4 or 5-star kibble with a fat content below that figure (even lower would be better if you’re treating pancreatitis). Hope this helps.

  • Wendy

    My little yorkie recently went through a very rough patch of pancreatitis. The vet said that he needed a lower fat diet which I placed him on and yes he is overweight. He also has an amazing list of food allergies. My pet food vendor recently told me that it was not so much the amount of fat, but the amount of carbs that needed to be regulated. I guess what I am really asking is how much crude fat should a food contain for a dog that suffered from pancreatitis and what about those carbs? Or does neither one of those matter?

  • Jan McCollam

    Hi! Mike is right when he states that most of the weight loss foods mean a lower fat percentage. Also, most senior formulas follow the same pattern. One food that I have found that is my favorite food for weight loss and may also work for pancreatitis is Wellness CORE Reduced Fat. Desi, my Poodle/Shih-Tzu mix, had an acute case of pancreatitis (now, note that he does not have chronic pancreatitis) and he also needed to lose some weight. I put him on CORE RF and it has done a great job for him. Lin, maybe this is one you could consider. Please read Mike’s review for Wellness CORE.

  • Hi Lin… I’m planning a future article on how to feed dogs with pancreatitis (along with some suggested foods). For now, simply start with the 4 and 5-star foods (on our website) and look at the dashboard for products with below-average fat percentages. Currently, the average fat percentage in our database is 23% for canned recipes and 15% for the kibbles.

    As a general rule, low fat usually means less meat content… and that can mean lower protein, too. Most of the weight-loss products fit this profile. Just be aware that when you lower fat and protein… the carb content automatically goes up. Once you choose a food, check with your vet.

  • Lin

    My dog has been diagnosed with pancreatitis and I am looking for a quality low fat kibble, can anyone help me out? I understand that Mike has limited time suggesting food for our pets so if there is anyone to help out I would like to get my guy off i/d after reading the 2 star rating for it, thanks in advance for any help!!!!

  • Thank you Mike for all the hard work and effort you are putting in to better inform pet guardians. I have been fit to be tide over all the “fad” diets being created by the marketing gurus of the pet food industry. Low fat diets for dogs (special health considerations aside) lead to a chronically hungry dog who is not recieving all the nutrients they need from their food. To have a dog live in this state is cruel and counterproductive to the goal of a lean fit healthy happy dog. Our company strongly promotes species appropriate whole food diets as the healthiest way to feed our companion animals. This especially includes the chronically obese pets who naturally slim down on a whole food diet (same is true for us humans). We understand that this may be difficult for some people and so carry a few of the best quality kibble and canned foods availabel on the market. But we make no bones about it processed food is always a compromise that people may have to make because of cost or time considerations. The very best kibble will never be as good as a quality whole food diet and a ‘diet’ kibble could be past off as a bad joke except that it is causing alot of suffering for the poor animals subjected to it and even more confusion for consumers. thanks again and keep up the good work.

    Maria Reich
    The Pet Health & Nutrition Center