13 Healthy Sources of Fats in Your Pet's Diet

The jury is in on dietary fats for your pet: and the verdict is way positive. Fats are healthy - in moderation, of course. Essential fatty acids and healthy sources of saturated fats are nutrient-dense additions to your dog or cat’s diet. From promoting a conditioned skin and coat to providing a sense of fullness to improving heart health, fats comprise a satisfying, nutritious part of your pet’s food.

13 Healthy Sources of Fats in Your Pet’s Diet

1. Spinach

We all know spinach is healthy: but did you know in addition to all that iron and calcium, spinach also contains omega 3 fatty acids? Try feeding cooked or raw spinach as a healthy treat for your dog. Dog won’t eat spinach on its own? Can’t say we blame him that much. Try adding it to your own healthy dog treat recipe.

2. Hemp

Hemp seed (or hemp hearts) contains an almost 4:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which is closer to your dog’s natural ratio than most essential fatty acid (EFA) sources. It also contains high levels of protein, which satisfies appetite and builds and maintains muscle. Use a teaspoon or two daily directly on your pet’s food, depending on their weight. Remember when you add anything to your pet’s diet, to reduce food amounts according to calories added. 

3. Pumpkin Seeds

Organic pumpkin seeds (not the salty, roasted snack you can buy) are a delicious and omega-3 rich treat for your pet. Add a teaspoon or two to your pet’s food raw or dry roast slightly (no need to add oil or salt). Grind into a powder for smaller pets. As an added benefit, raw pumpkin seeds have natural insect-repelling properties and have been used in natural deworming. However, while natural solutions are handy for prevention, never use homeopathic remedies in replacement of medical professional help when needed. 

4. Olive Oil

Making homemade dog treats? Use olive oil in place of butter, canola, or vegetable oils. While extra-virgin olive oil has the highest concentration of omega-3s, you may want to use a lighter olive oil or mix, as extra-virgin can have a strong flavour.

5. Flax Seed

Rich in omega 3 fatty acids, flax in its raw form is also a substantial source of dietary fibre for your pet. Grind a teaspoon or two raw over food or add a liquid supplement such as Holistic Blend Flax Seed Oil to your pet’s food daily. Refrain from feeding whole, as flax will simply pass through your pet’s system. Combat rancidity by storing flax in the fridge, grinding fresh, and buying small amounts at a time. 

6. Chia Seeds

Yes, the very same seed that makes the Chia Pet can be healthy for your pet. Abundant in omega 3s and 6s, chia is a simple, healthy addition to your dog or cat’s diet. More good news: chia stores better than its relative, flax seed, and imparts no taste or smell that your dog could pick up on. Grind or soak for best absorption: otherwise the healthy seeds will pass undigested.

7. Avocado

Wait, what?! While commonly misidentified as toxic to dogs and cats, avocado is unlikely to cause problems in moderate amounts in the diet. See the ASPCA warning here. Don’t shy away from adding a small amount of this essential fatty acid superstar to your pet’s treats in oil or raw form. 

8. Broccoli and Cauliflower

Many dogs love broccoli as a raw treat and it can add healthy omega 3 fatty acids to their diets. Other excellent nutrients in these cruciferous veggies: Vitamins C and K, and cancer-fighting glucosinolates.

9. Winter Squash

Winter squash is about as healthy as it is plentiful in the autumn. A hearty source of omega 3 fatty acids, fibre, and nutrients such as beta-carotene, winter squash makes a yummy treat for your pet. Since winter squash can be high in calories, limit amounts and choose high-water content varieties such as pumpkin or spaghetti squash.
Winter squash’s high amounts of fibre also make it a quick fix for loose stool. Add cooked pumpkin to your dog’s diet to firm up runny stool.

10. Coconut Oil

Everybody is talking about coconut oil and its benefits these days. Your dog can capitalize on it, too! Make sure you use organic virgin coconut oil such as Pet Tek Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. While coconut oil does not contain essential fatty acids, it contains a whopping amount of healthy saturated fats, which, as it turns out, aren’t the diet-busters we used to think they were. More pluses? Coconut oil aids in metabolism, weight loss, and digestion. You can also apply it topically as an aid for dandruff, ringworm, and minor cuts.

Most Nutrience Natural dry dog foods contain added coconut oil for your dog's vitality.

11. Grass-fed, Free-Range or Pasture-Raised Meats

You are what you eat. We’re finding that applies to the food our food eats, too. Opt for grass-fed, free-range, and pasture-raised meats whenever possible in your pet’s food. Just look at the ingredients list. If it doesn’t say grass-fed,free-range, or pasture-raised, the beef or chicken was likely fed a primarily grain-based diet, high in omega 6, but not omega 3 fatty acids. Grass-fed meats have better ratios of omega 3s to omega 6 fatty acids.

Look for quality, natural dog foods such as Orijen and Acana, which boast free-range animals in their ingredients.

12. Fish 

Fish, particularly wild-caught, has astronomical levels of omega 3 fatty acids. Look for salmon and salmon meal, herring, and mackerel in your pet food ingredients for the highest levels.These healthy fats do wonders for your pet’s skin and coat, brain function, and heart health, among other things.

13. Free-Range Eggs

Eggs are common ingredients in dog and cat foods. They are an excellent source of dietary protein. Free-range eggs also contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as other nutrients. Look for free-range eggs in your pet food ingredients list or feed cooked to your dog as a snack or in a homemade treat. 

You can feed your dog raw eggs, but limit to once every few days or once a week. Feeding too many raw eggs to your dog can result in a B vitamin deficiency.