How Fat Is The Optimal Fuel Source For Dogs

Story takeaways:

  • Dogs get 2.5 times more energy from fat than from carbs or protein and metabolize 90-95% of the fat they are fed.

  • Dogs are built to use fat-for-fuel; carnivorous canines’ sharp teeth, short digestive tract, and ability to metabolize fat efficiently points to their natural need for raw meat

  • Fat is an expensive fuel source. This is why you don’t see many dog food companies using fat-forward recipes (since they prioritize human needs over dog needs). We put dogs first and fuel them with fat.


When you’re a dog parent, you spend a lot of time with your dog. And it’s not just for daily walks, either. 

They’re there when you go to sleep, they’re there when you wake up. They’re there when you’re eating...and lie comfortably at your side wherever you go.  

Although dogs may sometimes feel like any other (human) member of the family, it’s easy to forget that dogs are canines and biologically different than humans.  

Psst...we’ve seen how people forget this biological fact when they project their own dietary preferences onto dogs with diets like vegan/vegetarian food or high-carb kibble. Diets that aren’t optimal for dogs that they can survive off of, but won’t thrive.

Here’s the thing: the most optimal fuel source for dogs is fat. Not vegetables, not grains, not carbs. Fat. 

Today, we’re here to challenge your notions about fat and show you that fueling dogs with fat is one of the BEST things you can do for them.  

 
 


WHAT ARE FATS AND WHAT DO THEY DO FOR DOGS? 

Here’s a great summary of what fats are and how dogs use them: 

“Fats are an excellent source of dietary energy; fats yield 2.5 times as much energy as proteins or dietary soluble carbohydrates for dogs, at 8.5 kilocalories of energy per gram of weight.

Most dietary fat is made up of triglycerides, which is a group of three fatty acids. Fatty acids are classified by the length of their carbon chain, by the presence or absence of double bonds, the number of double bonds, the position of those bonds along the carbon chain, and by their melting point. Fats with no double bond at all are called saturated fats. Fats containing fatty acid chains with a double bond are called unsaturated fats...

Fat digestion is more complex than that of protein or carbohydrates. Still, healthy dogs and cats can digest fats with great efficiency; approximately 90-95 percent of the fat they eat gets metabolized.” (source)

Fats are a highly digestible form of energy for canines. In fact, “approximately 90-95 percent of the fat they [dogs] eat gets metabolized.” 

Additionally, in a dog’s body, 

“Fats have many important functions...Not only do they provide energy, but they are also necessary for the normal development and function of body cells, nerves, muscles, and body tissues. They are important components in the body’s production of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins work to reduce inflammation, as well as perform many other important functions in the body.

Fats are part of the reason that dog foods taste good and smell good too (at least to your dog). Fats and oils also give structure to foods. They help the body to absorb certain vitamins called the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). Fats and oils in the diet keep your dog’s coat shiny and healthy and are also important in reproduction.” (source)

To summarize: fats are a form of energy in dogs’ bodies that help to regulate normal bodily functions, reduce inflammation, and help with nutrient absorption. Fats are an optimal source of energy for canines since: 

  1. Dogs get 2.5 times as much energy from fat as they do from carbs. 

  2. Dogs metabolize 90-95% of fat they eat (when it isn’t being stored in the presence of excess carbs-turned-glucose). 

 

CASE STUDY: CANINE MUSCLES AND FAT ABSORPTION 

In addition to fat being the most optimal fuel source on a metabolic level, everything about dogs’ anatomy points to the fact that getting fuel from raw meat and fat is the best thing for carnivorous canines. 

For example, canine muscles are more adapted to use fat than any other fuel source: 

“Canine metabolism is unique. Mammalian muscle fibers have been classified into types I, IIa and IIb based on their metabolism. Type I fibers contain less ATPase activity compared with type II fibers. Types I and IIa are characterized by oxidative metabolism, whereas type IIb fibers are characterized by anaerobic glycolytic metabolism.

Canine muscle contains mainly oxidative fibers (Armstrong et al. 1982, Gunn 1978a, Snow 1987). Guy and Snow (1981) describe some low oxidative muscle fibers in dogs but acknowledge that the activity of the oxidative enzyme succinate dehydrogenase in the low oxidative fibers was still greater than that in type IIb fibers from other species. Relative to metabolic body size, dogs also metabolize free fatty acids at twice the rate observed in humans (de Bruijne 1981). Dog muscle is, therefore, more adapted to use fat than human muscle and conclusions derived from human experiments may not be valid in dogs. (source)

From dogs’ sharp, elongated teeth to their short digestive tract to their ability to metabolize FFA’s at twice the rate as humans, fat is the BEST source of fuel for carnivorous canines.  



 HIGH FAT DIET CONCERNS FOR DOGS 

First off, the downsides of a high-fat diet for humans are not applicable for canines. Pet MD themselves have stated: 

“Dogs never have to worry about cholesterol levels like humans do, as they won’t end up with the same types of health issues humans can from eating a high-fat diet. If fat levels are too low; however, dogs can develop dry, itchy skin and a dull coat.” (source)

Additionally, dogs don’t get fat from fat, they get fat from carbs. To see how this is, check out our blog on fat fueled dogs here: https://www.thebonesandco.com/blog/fat-fueled-and-fat-adapted-dogs.

Simply put, high-fat diet concerns are not applicable for canines (not even Pancreatitis!). Fat is a biologically optimal fuel source for dogs that puts the least amount of metabolic stress on a dog’s body.  

If we want to feed our dogs optimally, we will fuel them with fat.

 

WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE FUEL WITH FAT? 

The fact that fat is a biological requirement of dogs and that it is an optimal fuel source is not contested...it’s in every veterinary manual or book on dog nutrition out there.  

The problem is...most dog food companies take this information about fat and formulate a food with the bare minimum amount to be considered “balanced.”  

Remember kibble = highly processed food with a high amount of carbs. Dogs eating kibble will use glucose for fuel and will store their fat (instead of using it for fuel).

Dogs eating properly balanced kibble or raw food with a high amount of carbs will not be using fat for fuel...they will be using sugar for fuel. Using sugar for fuel puts metabolic stress on the body, stress that has been linked to increased risk for developing diseases like cancer, diabetes, and obesity.  

Fat is a premium ingredient (it costs more $$) and most dog food companies are not willing to spend the money to feed dogs the right way.  

 

BONES & CO. IS REVOLUTIONIZING DOG FOOD WITH KETO 

Since we know that fat is the BEST body fuel for dogs, it just makes sense that we should feed dogs food that allows them to use fat-for-fuel with ketone bodies instead of glucose. 

...And the best way to use fat-for-fuel is by eating properly formulated Ketogenic food (like Bones & Co.’s food!). 

At Bones & Co., we are Sparking A Keto Revolution to literally save dogs’ lives with food that is optimal for them.

We are tired of seeing Big Pet Food prioritize convenience over dogs’ health. We know that there’s a better way to feed dogs that actually works with dogs’ bodies instead of against them. 

That’s why we’re are here to shatter the status quo of dog food and actually put dogs FIRST by fueling them better with Keto. Rising disease rates, the monopoly of kibble, and misinformation about Keto are all stacked against us... 

                                                                    …but we won’t stop until we accomplish our goal of feeding dogs better because we LOVE our dogs and it’s the right thing to do. 

 

HELP US SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT KETO 

We are on a mission to find Keto warriors and co-revolutionaries who are passionate about feeding dogs the right way (with fat) rather than the convenient way (with kibble and glucose).  

In order to fight rising canine disease rates, we HAVE TO work together to spread the word about fat, about Keto, and about proper canine nutrition.  

If you feel moved to take action, help us by PUTTING YOUR STAKE IN THE GROUND FOR KETO (JOIN US).  

With you by our side, we can grow this movement and help more dogs thrive.


Have specific questions about your dog’s health? While B&C cannot give medical advice, we recommend seeking advice from a Holistic Veterinarian for your best furry friend (BFF). B&C is here to be a resource for you while you learn more about raw food, Keto, and dog nutrition!

Bones & Co.