Fats are an important part of your pet’s diet. Dietary fat provides calorie-dense nutrition, lots of energy, flavour, and satiety that keeps your pet from coming back to the food dish. But not all fats are good for your pet. There are plenty of fats with low-nutritional value, some of which can even be harmful for dogs and cats.
Steer clear of these poor sources of fats in your pet’s diet whenever possible:
1. Most Seed and Vegetable Oils
Seed and vegetable oils are some of the cheapest and most prevalent fats in the North American diet. As such, they frequently find themselves in dog and cat foods and treats. But they aren’t a significant source of nutrition for your pet. While calorie-dense, many of these oils are heavily processed and, therefore, contain few usable nutrients. In recent years, they’ve also been linked to some serious and fatal conditions, including cancer and heart-disease.
Seed and vegetable oils to avoid in your pet’s food and treats include vegetable oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, rice bran oil, safflower oil, rapeseed or canola oil, and more. Opt for less-processed fats such as butter and coconut oil, like Pet Tek Organic Virgin Coconut Oil.
2. Partially-Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
Widely produced because of its low cost, soybean oil is everywhere in the human and pet food industries. While soy has some healthful qualities, it tends to be difficult to digest, is often heavily-processed, contains high levels of omega 6 fats (and low levels of omega 3s, promoting inflammation), and often contains GMO ingredients. And partially-hydrogenated soybean oil contains nasty trans fats.
Soy consumption does present some health benefits, but it also has a few controversial, inconclusive, and potentially harmful effects, including hormonal disruption and cancer.
3. Animal Fat
Not all animal fats are bad for pets. But watch for the specific ingredient labeled “animal fat” in your pet food or treat ingredient list. This animal fat is of undisclosed and unknown origin, which usually means that it comes from dead, diseased, or dying animals. Probably something you don’t want to be feeding to your dog or cat. The lowest quality fats, as well as meats, are always labeled with a non-identifier, such as “animal”.
“Poultry fat” is a step up, but try to look for precisely identified “chicken fat” instead.
4. Conventional Meats and Eggs
Conventional meats and eggs do contain some nutrients, in addition to fat and protein. But the available nutrients in conventionally-farmed animals and eggs are much lower than those available in grass-fed, pasture-raised, or free-range animals. When you are able to, choose those animals in more natural living conditions and fed a species-appropriate, diverse diet. It shows in their nutritional value.
Acana dry dog food and cat food contain ingredients such as free-run chicken and ranch-raised lamb, ensuring your pet gets more nutrition with every bite.
5. High Fat and Salt Meats
High fat and salt meats such as bacon and ham may be delicious for your dog and cat, but they aren’t healthy. Fed in high amounts, these fat and salt-laden meats can be a dietary nightmare for your pet:
- Foods high in fat and salt (including other processed human treats) can cause pancreatitis in dogs, a serious condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed. Unchecked, canine pancreatitis can lead to organ failure and brain damage.
- Foods with high fat also promote obesity, which is already epidemic in today’s house cats and dogs.
- Foods high in salt put further stress on kidneys and encourage dehydration, which is a big problem in cats and dogs, specifically those fed a dry food diet.
Avoid feeding your dog or cat pepperoni, sausage, deep-fried foods, hot dogs, lunch meats, fast food, or any processed meats.
While most nuts contain plenty of nutrients and are considered good sources of healthy fats, they are a definite no-no for dogs and cats. Most nuts cause digestive discomfort and can create obstructions in both canines and felines, while other nuts are toxic, so it is best to avoid nuts entirely as far as your pets are concerned. Avoid walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, pistachios in particular.
Note that peanut butter, a popular dog treat/flavour, is made from peanuts, which aren't actually classified as nuts, but seeds. Peanuts are safe for dogs, but very high in fat, so limit them accordingly, particularly the roasted and salted kind. Also choose natural peanut butter that does not contain high levels of added sugars.
As a source of polyunsaturated fats and essential fatty acids, fish can be a healthy ingredient in pet foods and treats. However, today's conventionally-farmed and even wild-caught fish contain high levels of toxins which build up in your pet's body when fed regularly. This is particularly true of large, high-fat fish such as salmon, whitefish, tuna, and mackerel.
Limit your pet’s exposure to mercury and other heavy metals and toxins by feeding fish in moderation.
Most adult cats and dogs are lactose intolerant, which means they can’t properly process dairy sugars. This results in diarrhea, gas, and stomach upset. Avoid feeding your dog or cat dairy products.
Plain, no-sugar yogurts, specifically those with live cultures, contain less lactose and can be a suitable treat for dogs and cats in moderation. Watch out, though! Never feed your dog or cat yogurt (or anything) that contains sugar substitutes, as they can be toxic to pets.
Veterinary Pet Insurance: Toxic Food Guide for Pets - https://www.petinsurance.com/healthzone/pet-articles/pet-health-toxins/Toxic-Food-Guide-for-Pets.aspx
Mercola: Soybean Oil: One of the Most Harmful Ingredients in Processed Food - http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/01/27/soybean-oil.aspx
Mercola Healthy Pets: Here's One Protein Dog and Cat Owners Should Steer Clear Of - http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/03/28/avoid-using-soy-on-pets.aspx
Little Big Cat: Why Fish is Dangerous for Cats - http://www.littlebigcat.com/nutrition/why-fish-is-dangerous-for-cats/
Authority Nutrition: Healthy Cooking Oils - http://authoritynutrition.com/healthy-cooking-oils/