Fatty acids. Aside from being a questionable name for a heavy metal cover band, they are unquestionably important to your dog's health. Fatty acids are the building blocks of fat, and an integral part of a balanced diet for your dog. Fats do amazing things inside the canine body, including storing energy, developing healthy cells, organs and tissue, supporting hormone production, and helping deliver vital vitamins to the liver for storage and to the small intestines for absorption.
And while fat is good, not all fat is created equal. That's where fatty acids come in. Your dog's body can produce certain kinds, but it can't produce the "essential" ones. Essential because they are a must-have for good health and nutrition and because they must be acquired through diet.
These essential fatty acids are divided into two groups called the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids for dogs are fish oils (herring, salmon, cod liver, etc.), flaxseed and canola oils. The best sources of omega-6 fatty acids are poultry fat (chicken, duck, etc.), pork fat, beef fat, safflower and sunflower oils. A healthy diet for your dog will include a balance of both. Notice that you can recognize and pronounce all of those sources--a good standard to employ when you're reading food labels—yours and your dog's.
Now that we've established that fat and its fatty acid makeup is a big part of your dog's nutrition, the next question is: how much fat should be in your dog's diet? We're primed to be "anti-dietary fat" in our culture, so you may need to brace yourself for this. The percentage varies a little depending on your dog's age, size, and activity level, but its roughly 30%. Even overweight dogs require a significant amount of fat as part of a healthy weight-loss plan.
Developing a healthy diet for your dog with the proper balance of fats and essential fatty acids is a gift that gives back in quantity and quality through healthy organs, muscles and joints. This means a body that not only enjoys full activity now, but is bolstered for years of activity to come. Whether that includes listening to questionably named heavy metal cover bands with your dog is entirely up to you.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.