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How Much Fat Content Should Be In Dog Food

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Dogs need fat in their diet for energy, muscle growth, insulation, vitamin absorption, and healthy cell growth.
  • The recommended percentage of fat in dog food is at least 5.5%.
  • Puppies require a higher fat intake, with a minimum of 8.5% compared to adults' minimum of 5.5%.
  • Too much fat can lead to obesity, pancreatitis, and other health issues, while too little fat can cause dry skin, dull hair, and malnourishment.
  • Good sources of fat for dogs include beef, canola oil, fish, yogurt, plant oils, mineral oil, nuts, seeds, sunflower oil, and whole eggs.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Highly educated researcher and DVM with extensive experience in Clinical VetMedicine, Veterinary Nano Medicine, and Preventive Veterinary Medicine.
Published on
Friday 1 September 2023
Last updated on
Friday 1 September 2023
How Much Fat Content Should Be In Dog Food
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Dog food has many vital nutritional contents for a canine’s mental and physical growth. To be precise, it contains vitamins, minerals, and calories. Yet, have you ever wondered how much fat content should be in dog food? If so, then keep on scrolling below.

How Many Percent of Fat Should Be in Dog Food? 

Fat is essential to create energy. Like humans, dogs need fat in their diet because it builds their muscles and enables them to move. In addition, fat also helps insulate their bodies during cold seasons. Plus, it also aids in vitamin absorption, lessens inflammation, and even promotes healthy cell growth. 

Yet, the amount of fat should only be moderate for canines since too much can cause obesity or, worse, pancreatitis. Moreover, to prevent dogs from getting fat-related diseases, vets created a nutritional plan for them. According to research, the percentage of fat that should be in dog food is at least a minimum of 5.5%

On the other hand, some sources state the amount of fat depends on the type of pet food and the age of the dogs. For starters, crude fat or dog food fat content ranges from more or less 8 to 18% in regular dog food. Well, that equals 20 to 45% of calories when a dog’s body absorbs. 

In addition, puppies are in the developing stage. They need an ample amount of nutrients to build their muscles and bones. With that said, they’re also active little creatures that most need a minimum of 8.5% fat compared to an adult’s minimum fat intake of 5.5%. Also, there are cases in which puppies may need more fat intake, sometimes as high as 20%

Meanwhile, note that as dogs age, their dog food’s fat reduces. Well, the main reason for that is because fat is expensive. Since puppies are the ones that need more dog fat in food and not adults, food manufacturers decided to adopt a nutritional scheme. As a result, puppy food became more expensive than adult dog food. 

What are the Benefits of Fats for Dogs? 

Healthy fats for dogs provide more energy compared to carbohydrates and protein. Especially for puppies, fats are the energy reserves they burn during vigorous movements. Moreover, adult dogs’ bodies stopped developing at some time, so their fat intake became considerably lesser as they age. 

In addition, fatty foods for dogs undergo a process called fatty acid regulation inside a canine’s body. This is the process where the body breaks up fats into essential minerals called fatty acids and regulates them so they don’t exceed and become harmful. 

According to vets, fats for dogs are essential building blocks of cell formation. Also, fat aids in the digestion of vitamins A, K, D, and E. Proper fat content helps prevent inflammation by strengthening the immune system. 

Besides, fat or adipose tissue is important in terms of body heat, and in short, it helps regulate body temperature. It gives off another process called thermogenesis, which refers to a mammal’s way of burning energy through heat. Well, not only that, though, but fats also protect tissues and organs from possible damage. 

Dogs need fat in their diet because it also promotes healthy skin and fur. Well, it turns out that fats in the form of fatty acids make fur smoother, shinier, and stronger. It helps prevent shedding and stops any skin irritation. Further, it helps keep the dog’s skin well moisturized and also aids in making hair grow faster and thicker.  

Dangers of Receiving Too Much or Not Enough Fats for Dogs 

Fats are essential to a dog’s life, but if given in excessive amounts, they can cause serious diseases. The number one example of that is obesity. Well, fat is already an inactive tissue. Although it stores energy, if not burnt out, it will continue to pile up and cause canines’ weights to rise. As a result, they will feel heavier, more tired, and more prone to other underlying illnesses caused by too much fat. 

More than 20% of fat is considered high fat in dog food. Moreover, if fat intake becomes exceedingly high, it can disrupt your dog’s absorption of vitamins such as E, A, and linoleic acid. Plus, severe symptoms of too much fat in a dog’s diet include difficulty walking and breathing, arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. 

On the contrary, dogs not receiving enough fat are also susceptible to diseases or deformities. For instance, since an adult dog needs more or less 10 to 15% fat daily, by not reaching that level, dogs may suffer from dry skin, itchiness, dull hair, and even shedding. 

In other cases, canines without proper fat intake become weak, malnourished, and prone to skin infections. Moreover, if prolonged, dogs may still suffer from diabetes or even heart failure. Further, what’s worse is they can become heavily emaciated, which can even lead to death. 

What Are the Good Sources of Fats for Dogs?

A benchmark of 20% of crude fat should be in dog food to ensure healthy living. Yet, how can canines avail fatty acids? Well, don’t worry. Here are some sources of fats dogs need to attain to have well-balanced nutrition. 


Beef is a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fat for dogs. Moreover, 100 g of beef contains approximately 5 to 10% fat. Yet, it should only be in moderation, though. A good rule of thumb states that feeding beef is only ¼ per dog’s weight or not greater than the borderline limit percentage of fat that should be in dog food, which is 20%. 

Canola Oil

Canola oil is healthier than other oils because it only contains 7% saturated fat per 100 g serving. Also, it contains rich Omega fatty acids that aid in cell formation. However, if you use this in cooking pet dishes, then the amount of fat that should be in dog food is in a ratio of 4:1. 


Fish is another good source of protein and fatty acids. The amount of fish fat in dog food depends on per serving. For instance, a Wild Alaskan Salmon contains 13 g of fat per 100 g of serving. However, a pure seafood diet isn’t good for dogs, so an acceptable percentage would only be 5% per kg weight of canines daily. 

Full Fat Yogurt

Yogurt is rich in calcium, minerals, and probiotics. But, if this is given to dogs as part of their diet, a certain nutritional statement must be followed. Moreover, according to animal nutritionists, the amount of yogurt fat in dog food shouldn’t exceed 10% of a canine’s calorie intake daily. 

Plant Oils

Plant oils are a healthy source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. They contain huge amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, promoting strong hair and clear skin in dogs. Yet, take note that the proper amount of plant oil fat percentage that should be in dog food is only 1 teaspoon daily. 

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is a natural digestive lubricant when your dog’s experiencing constipation. Just take note to mix 1 teaspoon of this per 5 kg of dog weight. Also, it should be diluted in dog food and, most importantly, given only when needed since its prolonged use causes vitamin absorption deficiency


Nuts are high in unsaturated fatty acids. Moreover, these fatty acids help promote healthy blood circulation, lessen inflammation, and ease cholesterol levels. Yet, if this is for dog consumption, you must be cautious. Nuts are high in fat, and the acceptable fat percentage in dog food is 10% of a canine’s calorie intake


Seeds are home to thousands of antioxidants, proteins, and other minerals. For instance, sunflower seeds are good for dogs, too. However, they only need at least 20-40 seeds a week and nothing more.  

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is rich in linoleic acid. This fatty acid helps regulate insulin levels and promotes healthy blood pressure. Moreover, it has 13 g of saturated fat per 100 g of serving; hence, the dose needs to be diluted for canines. To be safe, the amount of sunflower oil fat in dog food is limited to 1 teaspoon once or twice a week. 

Whole Eggs

A single egg contains 5 g of fat. It’s also high in vitamins A and B12, protein, and Omega fatty acids. But, before giving your dog eggs, remember that the acceptable serving of fat in dog food is equivalent to 1 egg per day

Common Questions

Fat is good for dogs. It provides them with the necessary energy they need to perform daily movements. However, there are some considerations we need to take note of. Hence, here are the frequently asked questions most pet owners have about how much fat should be in dog food. 

What percent of fat is allowed in dry dog food?

Crude fat is good for dogs, yet it should only be in a range of 5 to 18%. Also, other times it can even be as high as 20% and never more than that. Fat intake depends on a canine’s age. That means younger dogs need more fat intake compared to adult ones. 

What is considered low fat for dog food?

Less than 10% of fat is already a low-fat diet. Well, some canines that suffer hyperlipidemia need a diet just like this to help them regulate their triglycerides. However, if your dog is healthy, this diet isn’t suitable for him as this will affect his skin, fur, and immune system. 

How much fat, protein, and carbs should be in dog food?

The good rule of thumb states that a minimum of 5.5% fat and 10% protein should be in dog food. Moreover, any lower than that is a low-fat diet and as much as possible, should be avoided. On the contrary, protein shouldn’t exceed 30%, same with fats, which are borderline at 18 to 20%.  

Is high-fat content good for dogs?

No. High fat content is dangerous, leading to obesity and other health risks such as heart disease or arthritis. Moreover, it can also cause trouble breathing, pancreatitis, and even diabetes in canines. 

Is protein or fat more important for dogs?

In terms of nutrition, canines need both to have a well-balanced diet. However, in terms of energy, fats are good for dogs and, somehow, even better than protein. That’s because fats help create movements and transform into fatty acids, which strengthen the immune system.  

Like humans, dogs need fat too. However, the only difference is that dogs can’t ingest the same amount of fats humans do. As a remedy to that, animal nutritionists proposed the total percentage of fat that should be in dog food. The minimum is at least 10% and never above 20%. Further, if you’re in doubt, don’t hesitate to consult a veterinarian’s advice. 

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