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What Is Crude Fat In Dog Food

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Crude fat in dog food refers to the total amount of fat in the food before a dog digests it.
  • The crude fat content in commercial dog food ranges from 8% to 18% by weight, with dogs needing at least 5.5% of their calories from fat.
  • It is an essential macronutrient alongside protein and carbohydrates for a dog's health.
  • Higher amounts of fat can be harmful to dogs, causing inflammation of the pancreas, high blood pressure, and abnormal function of the heart.
  • Essential fatty acids such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 are necessary for a dog's healthy function, and a high-quality commercial diet should provide all the fat your dog needs.
Written by Jay
BsC (Hons) Animal Behaviour & Welfare graduate with a passion for advocating for misunderstood animals.
Licensed veterinarian and animal behaviorist with over three years of experience and a Ph.D. in Poultry Science.
Published on
Thursday 20 May 2021
Last updated on
Thursday 8 June 2023
what is crude fat in dog food
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Whilst choosing your dog’s new food, you may find yourself wondering what crude fat in dog food is. What does crude mean? And how does the amount of crude fat impact your dog’s health? While the term “crude” might sound negative or dangerous, it actually refers to the total amount of fat in the food before your dog digests it.

Dog food crude fat is an essential macronutrient. Alongside fat, your dog also needs protein and carbohydrates in the correct ratios to stay happy and healthy. So, pet food manufacturers will carefully measure the crude fat of their products to give you a better idea of just how much fat your dog is getting.

What Is Crude Fat In Dog Food?

Crude fat in dog food is the total amount of fat that is extracted by ether solvent. The ether used in this process will ensure only true fat is extracted. This fat is soluble with multiple important vitamins (A, D, E, K) and elements (lecithin, free fatty acids, cholesterol, etc).

There are several types of fat in your dog’s food. Each type plays a vital role in your dog’s overall nutrition. In dog food, fats are often highly digestible and are an important source of energy. But what are fats made of? All fats are made up of fatty acids. These are the building blocks of fats and can be long-chain, medium-chain, or short-chain. They can also be saturated, unsaturated, or polyunsaturated depending on how many bonds there are between the carbon atoms in the chain. Lastly, your dog needs at least 5.5% of their calories from fat.

But just how do pet food manufacturers find out how much fat is in their product?

“Crude” as an Analysis

Crude fat content is found by dissolving the food’s ingredients in a solvent, evaporating it, and then analyzing what is left. A laboratory may use HCI hydrolysis, diethyl ether, petroleum ether, or hexane to extract crude fat from pet food.

But what does this mean in terms of quality?

The term “crude” simply refers to the method used to test the product and does not reflect the quality of the nutrient in the product itself. So, in short, the crude fat content is the amount of fat in your dog’s food before your dog metabolizes it (i.e., the amount that is there before your dog digests the food).

How Much Crude Fat Should Be in Dog Food?

As a general rule, your dog should get at least 5.5% of their calories from fats. The crude fat content of commercial dog food ranges anywhere from 8% to 18% by weight. This is important to consider because higher amounts of fat can be harmful to dogs. For example, high levels of dietary fat can contribute to obesity.

Furthermore, high levels of crude fat cause inflammation of the pancreas, high blood pressure, and abnormal function of the heart. A study led by Anton C. Beynen suggests avoiding dog foods with more than 40% of their calorie content from fat.

crude fat in dog food
Dogs should get 5.5% of calories from fat.

How to Calculate The Amount of Fat in a Dog’s Diet

The easiest way to calculate the amount of fat in your dog’s diet is by finding the percent moisture indicated in the guaranteed analysis, then subtracting the number by 100. This is going to be the percent dry matter for the food.

Next, divide the fat percentage on the label by the percent dry matter, then multiply by 100. The answer will be the fat percentage.

Crude Fat in Dog Food: FAQ

Have any more questions about crude fat in dog food? Feel free to refer to our Frequently Asked Questions section for more details. If in doubt about your pup’s diet, ask your veterinary nutritionist for advice!

How important is fat for dogs?

Dietary fats are essential for your dog. Not only do they provide energy, but they also support cell growth, maintain healthy skin, fight inflammation, protect the organs, and keep the body warm. Fats also help with the absorption of nutrients and help to produce some important hormones. Lastly, fat is a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins. These vitamins are vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K. Consuming enough fat is thus essential for an adequate intake of these vitamins. So, overall, fat is very important for dogs.

Your dog especially needs essential fatty acids in their diet. These fatty acids cannot be synthesized by a dog’s own body, so they must be provided by the diet. Such Omega-3 fatty acids include alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Your dog also needs Omega-6 fatty acids like linoleic acid to stay healthy.

What conditions can arise from too little fat intake?

If your dog’s diet lacks fat, they can develop several health problems as a result. These include dry, itchy skin, a dull coat, a diminished immune system, heart disease, and diabetes. A lack of a specific fatty acid can cause further problems. For example, a lack of Omega-3 causes neurologic abnormalities and decreased visual acuity. Similarly, a lack of Omega-6 causes weight loss, eczema, susceptibility to infections, and hair loss. Younger dogs may have problems with growth, while mature dogs have problems with reproduction.

What’s the difference between fats and oils in dog food?

Fats are usually solid at room temperature, high in saturated fatty acids, and often come from animals. Also, fats have a higher melting point and are more stable. Oils are usually fluid at room temperature, high in unsaturated fatty acids, and originate from plants. In contrast to fats, oils have a low melting point and are less stable. However, there are some similarities between fats and oils – for example, both belong to a class known as triglycerides. This means that they are both made up of fatty acids and glycerol.

What are good fats and bad fats in dog food?

You’re probably familiar with the terms “good fat” and “bad fat” as it applies to our food. “Bad” fats are called as such when they are associated with high blood cholesterol levels. However, this concept does not apply to dogs, and you needn’t worry about raising their cholesterol with fats. Dogs can consume both “good” and “bad” fats without undue risk of heart attack or stroke. But why is this? In short, dogs already have more good cholesterol (HDL) than bad cholesterol (LDL) regardless of what type of fat they consume. And, in contrast to people, dogs are resistant to hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis. This remains true even when dogs consume high amounts of dietary fat that would be harmful to a person.

What are the best sources of fat for dogs?

A high-quality commercial diet should provide all the fat your dog needs. The best dog foods will be well-balanced with both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. If the label lists salmon or trout as an ingredient, it is a clear indication that your dog will get Omega-3 fatty acid from their food. If you are worried about a lack of Omega-3 in your dog’s diet, consider adding Omega-3 supplements to their food. Similarly, vegetable oils like corn oil and soybean oil are excellent sources of Omega-6 fatty acids. Animal fats are also a good source.

Crude fat is an essential part of any dog food. The amount of crude fat is found by dissolving the food’s ingredients in a solvent, evaporating it, and then analyzing what is left behind. Alongside protein and carbohydrates, fat is necessary for the proper function of the body. So, be sure to make an informed choice when selecting your pooch’s new food.

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