As discussed in our posts on protein, both dogs and cats require diets that are high in animal proteins. Many pet owners don’t realize that their pets are also well suited to diets that are moderately high in fat as well.
Fat is an important macronutrient for both dogs and cats. Dietary fat provides a myriad of benefits including:
The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) publishes nutritional minimums and standards for pet foods based on the life stage of the pet. The tables below shows the AAFCO protein and fat minimums for dogs and cats respectively.
Despite all of the benefits of fat, you should not go overboard when planning your pet’s diet. Like anything else, moderation and proper portioning is key.
Fat is the most calorie dense macronutrient- it contains 2.25 times the calories per unit as protein and carbohydrates. Thus, high fat diets are also high calorie diets and if not monitored, can lead to overweight and even obese pets. This suggests that a lower fat (not no fat!) diet can be a prudent strategy when kick-starting a pet weight loss program. Check with your vet or pet nutritionist before making any dramatic changes in your pet’s diet.
As your pet ages and becomes less active, their energy requirements will lessen and thus, the amount of calories in their diet should also lessen. The best way to accomplish this is by reducing their portion, not by switching to a high carb “senior” diet, which is typically lower in protein and fat! Again, check with your vet or pet nutritionist before making any dramatic changes in your pet’s diet.
Next week, we will discuss the common sources of fat in commercial pet food.