When it comes to fat, there are good fats and unhealthy fats. Good fats in appropriate amounts don't make you fat, so you don't have to stress about giving your dog appropriate amounts of healthy fats in their diet. Pancreatitis Healthy fats in appropriate amounts do not trigger pancretitis in healthy dogs! Did you know that high (healthy) fat diets are commonly used in cancer diets for dogs by the KetoPet Sanctuary and have not yet triggered a case of pancretitis? Pancreatitis is an unfortunate fear some pet parents have which stops them feeding amazing healthy foods to their dogs. Unless a dog is genetically predisposed to the condition such as Miniature Schnauzers, Cocker Spaniels, and some terrier breeds, pancreatitis is often triggered by an extra consumption of rendered fat, that's why you see some dogs at Christmas come down with the condition after being given Christmas ham and very fatty foods.
The healthy fats we're chasing are primarily the omega-3's. Omega-3's come in 3 main forms but there are 11 in total, EPA, DHA and ALA are the ones you have probably heard of before and these are the ones we'll mainly talk about. ALA's are mostly plant based such as Chia seeds but they don't convert well to EPA and DHA, ALA's are stored and used as energy like other fats. EPA and DHA are mostly found in marine based foods such as fatty fish and algae. Micro algae such as what is found in My Doggie Sea Sprinkles are a great addition.
Rotating through these different omega-3's is the goal and if you tried to include a healthy fat in every meal you would be positively affecting your dogs skin and coat condition, eye health, brain health and general health and wellbeing. Giving puppies foods with omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA is especially important because when fed to dogs, it improves cognitive and neurological development (1). "The brain itself is composed of 50 percent fat, and DHA makes up 10-20 percent of all fats and more than 90 percent of the long-chain PUFAs found in the brain. This explains why DHA is widely believed to play an integral role in the proper development and functioning of the brain, impacting attention, memory, and trainability"(4). In 2012, a study looked at the effects of foods fortified with DHA rich fish oil on cognitive, memory, psychomotor, immunologic, and retinal function and other measures of development in 48 healthy Beagle puppies and you bet ya, they found that neurocognitive development following weaning improved cognitive, memory, psychomotor, immunologic, and retinal functions in growing dogs (5). And just to cement that omega-3 (DHA) is positive in cognitive development, a 2017 study conducted by IAMS which is a pet food company found that puppies fed a higher-DHA diet outperformed puppies that were fed a diet lower in DHA in trainability, using a T-maze with a treat in only one arm of the maze (6). In humans, omega-3 is also seen to reduced anger, anxiety and depression states (2). Breeders should also take note because giving human mothers omega-3 during the last semester when omega-3 levels are low can avoid low birth weights (3). Giving omega-3 during pregnancy in dogs was been studied in relation to hip development and no adverse effects were found (1). We personally love Antinol Rapid which is a full spectrum omega-3 supplement whose primary use is to treat dogs with joint disease such as arthritis but it is also used as a joint disease preventative in young dogs. Because it is such an amazing omega-3 supplement, I put puppies on it as soon as they come home. If you would like the details of an online supplier with free shipping, shoot me a message through my contact page.
How much to feed? In most cases, it is a common sense approach, just like how you can take a good guess at what is and isn't an appropriate amount of food for yourself. Where there are existing "guidelines", I have included them. Your dogs poos are a good indicator of how your dog is digesting fat, if they get sloppy poos after adding healthy fats, then back it off to an amount that keeps their digestive system stable. If you find that you cannot add healthy fats even in small amount without upsetting your dogs digestive system, you may need to consider adding a digestive enzym