Let's (Not) Chew the Fat
Hot dogs, bacon, steak, marrow bones, cat food, sausage, ground pork…the list goes on and on of high fat foods we like to give our dogs and they love them. But higher fat foods are bad for our diabetic dogs for some specific reasons and today I am going to go over why it is important to feed a low-fat diet, how to figure out fat content in human grade foods and fat content in dog food.
Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and let’s get to it.
Why do I need to feed my diabetic dog a low-fat diet?
Studies show that up to 40% of diabetic dogs get pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas due to the digestive enzymes activating in the pancreas and “digesting” the pancreas. Genetically predisposed breeds, medications like steroids, gallbladder sludge, gallstones, obesity, trauma, cancer, hyperlipidemia and high fat diet can cause pancreatitis.
By feeding a low-fat diet we can reduce the occurrence or recurrence of pancreatitis and lower cholesterol levels that cause hyperlipidemia.
There are four main types of fat: saturated fats, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated fats and trans fats. Dogs do not need trans fats so those fats should not be incorporated into their diets. Dogs need saturated and unsaturated fats, but their bodies require a balanced amount of each. Too much of one and not enough of another can cause autoimmune disorders, skin problems, inflammatory disease, chronic illness, exacerbates allergies and can cause pancreatitis.
What do these fats do?
- Provide energy
- Help absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K
- Can increase blood lipids (fats)
- Can increase LDL cholesterol levels
- Help lower cardiovascular disease
- Help lower LDL
- Help develop and maintain the body’s cells
Polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids):
- Help with muscle movement
- Cell growth
- Blood clotting
- Reduce inflammation
- Increases LDL cholesterol
- Decreases HDL cholesterol
- Promotes inflammation
LDL = low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol)
HDL = high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol)
Calculating fat content in human food.
Looking at nutrition labels for human foods can be as confusing as looking at the guaranteed analysis for dog food. The following is how I calculate the fat percentage in human foods.
If math is not your thing, have no fear! Here is a handy calculator that you can bookmark and use any time. Just click on this link: PetTest Fats, Carbohydrates and Protein calculator .
Calculating fat content in dog food (works for cats too!).
The guaranteed analysis on dog food labels will specify the percentage of fat and moisture. If you cannot find moisture content then you will need to contact the food manufacturer. When figuring out the content we are interested in, in this case fat, we need to know what dry matter basis of the fat is, this gives us the true percentage of fat.
And here is another calculator to make your life easier! PetTest Carbohydrate and Dry Matter Basis (DMB) Calculator.
I know I just threw a fair amount of math at you but watching the fat content your diabetic dog eats will help with their health. Lucy got a fair number of fatty treats until she was diagnosed with pancreatitis. Once I cut out higher fat foods she never got pancreatitis again!
Until next week stay comfy, cool and caffeinated!
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please start a conversation below.
AAHA Certified Diabetes Educator
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Founder/Administrator of DDO: Diabetic Dog Owners University
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