I previously wrote about the 6 problems with soybean oil and soybean meal and as a continuation, I have provided more details on vegetable oil in dog food in this article.
Table of Contents
What is vegetable oil in dog food?
Vegetable oil is a triglyceride fat derived from plants. The term “vegetable oil” can be confusing because it is used to refer to both edible and inedible oils. In the pet food industry, the term “vegetable oil” refers to inedible oils.
Inedible oils are oils that are not suitable for human consumption and are instead used for industrial purposes. The most common inedible oils used in pet food are soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, and cottonseed oil.
The main difference between edible and inedible oils is their fatty acid composition. Edible oils are typically higher in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) while inedible oils are higher in saturated fatty acids (SFAs).
PUFAs are essential for health but are very susceptible to oxidation. SFAs are not essential but are much more resistant to oxidation.
The main reason why inedible oils are used in pet food is that they are very cheap. In fact, they are so cheap that they are often used as a filler ingredient in pet food.
Vegetable oil vs other oil in dog food:
Vegetable oils are often used in pet food as a cheaper alternative to animal-based fats. Animal-based fats are more expensive because they require rendering, which is the process of separating the fat from the tissue.
Rendering is a costly process, so using vegetable oils is a way for pet food companies to cut costs.
The problem with using vegetable oils is that they are not species-appropriate. Dogs are carnivores, so their bodies are not designed to digest plant-based fats.
In addition, vegetable oils are typically highly processed. They are often extracted with chemicals and then refined, bleached, and deodorized. This processing can damage the essential fatty acids and make them less healthy.
Finally, vegetable oils are typically very high in omega-6 fatty acids. This is a problem because omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory. Inflammation is a root cause of many diseases, so it’s important to keep omega-6 levels in balance with omega-3 levels.
Vegetable oil vs fish oil:
Fish oil is a better alternative to vegetable oil because it is a source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory, so they can help to reduce the risk of diseases associated with inflammation.
In addition, fish oil is a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids. It does not require the processing that vegetable oils do, so it is a healthier option.
Finally, fish oil can help to balance the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. This is important because an imbalance of these fatty acids can lead to inflammation.
Uses of vegetable oil in dog food:
Vegetable oils are used in pet food for a variety of reasons including:
– To increase the energy density of the diet
– To alter the fatty acid composition of the diet
– For palatability
– As a carrier for fat-soluble vitamins
Are vegetable oils safe for dogs?
The short answer is yes, vegetable oils are safe for dogs.
The long answer is that, like all things, there can be too much of a good thing. Too much fat in the diet can lead to obesity and other health problems.
The type of fat is also important. The fats that are most beneficial for dogs are omega-3 fatty acids. The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids for dogs are fish oils.
Vegetable oils are a good source of omega-6 fatty acids but they are not as good as fish oils. Omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory, meaning they can contribute to inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is a normal response by the body to injury or disease but chronic inflammation can lead to a host of health problems including joint pain, cancer, and heart disease.
What are the benefits of vegetable oil for dogs?
Vegetable oils offer a number of benefits for dogs including:
– Increased energy density: Fat is a concentrated source of energy. This can be helpful for dogs that need to gain weight or that have a high energy requirement.
– Altered fatty acid composition: Vegetable oils can help to change the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. This can be beneficial for dogs that are prone to inflammation or that have an inflammatory disease.
– Palatability: Fat is a natural flavor enhancer. This can make food more appealing to dogs, which can be helpful for picky eaters. One study found that dog food with sunflower oil was much more palatable compared to dog food with poultry fat or with beef tallow as shown in the chart below;
– Vitamin absorption: Fat is necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E, and K.
Do dogs like vegetable oil:
A study comparing dog preference of dog food with vegetable and non-vegetable oil found that vegetable oil are preferred by dogs by a significant margin.
See the chart below with the results;
Drawbacks of vegetable oil in dog food:
While there are some benefits to using vegetable oils in dog food, there are also some drawbacks.
– Obesity: One of the biggest concerns with high-fat diets is that they can lead to obesity. This is especially true if the diet is also high in calories.
– Inflammation: As mentioned before, vegetable oils are a good source of omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are pro-inflammatory, which means they can contribute to inflammation in the body. This can be problematic for dogs that are prone to inflammation or that have an inflammatory disease.
– Vitamin A toxicity: Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is found in many vegetable oils. While vitamin A is necessary for good health, too much can be toxic. Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include:
- – Dry, flaky skin
- – Hair loss
- – Joint pain
- – Liver damage
If you are going to use vegetable oils in your dog’s diet, it is important to choose a quality oil that is high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in omega-6 fatty acids. You should also talk to your veterinarian about the best way to incorporate these oils into your dog’s diet.
While vegetable oils are not as good as fish oils, they are still a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and they can help to improve the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in the diet.
What are the nutrients in vegetable oils?
All vegetable oils are a source of fat and calories but there is variation in the type and amount of nutrients they contain.
Soybean oil, for example, is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids while canola oil is a good source of omega-6 fatty acids.
Corn oil is relatively high in saturated fat while coconut oil is relatively high in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
The table below shows the fatty acid composition of some common vegetable oils.
Saturated Fat in vegetable oil:
Saturated fat is a type of fat that is found in both animal and plant-based foods. It is solid at room temperature and is often used in baking and cooking.
Saturated fat has been shown to increase cholesterol levels and to contribute to heart disease. For this reason, it is important to limit the amount of saturated fat in your dog’s diet.
The table below shows the saturated fat content of some common vegetable oil;
As you can see from the table above, corn, canola, and flaxseed oil are lacking EPA, DHA, and AA. On the other hand, fish oil menhaden is rich in saturated fat and contain almost three times that in vegetable oil.
The fact that vegetable oil contains less saturated fat has been used to make the case that they are more healthy compared to animal-based oil.
Omega 3 fatty Acids:
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that is found in both animal and plant-based foods. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered to be “good” fats because they have a number of health benefits.
Some of the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include
- Anti-inflammatory: they can help to reduce inflammation in the body. This is important for dogs that are prone to inflammation or that have an inflammatory disease.
- Thyroid health: they can help to improve thyroid function.
- Heart health: they can help to protect the heart and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Brain health: they can help to improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of dementia.
Omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
To utilize ALA, dogs’ bodies must transform it to EPA and DHA, a highly inefficient process. As a result, rather than focusing on ALA, pet owners should focus on EPA and DHA in their diets.
This is an omega-3 fatty acid that is not found in vegetable oil and is only available in animal-based protein sources. It is important for puppies but not essential for adult dogs. Canola oil has the highest amounts of ALA when compared to all other vegetable oils.
Sources of omega 3 fatty acids:
- Alpha-linoleic acid: Canola oil, Flaxseed oilm Soybean oil, Walnut oil
- Eicosapentaenoic acid: Fish oil (menhaden), Herring oil, Mackerel oil, Salmon oil, Sardine oil, Trout oil, Anchovy oil
- Docosahexaenoic acid: Fish oil (menhaden), Herring oil, Mackerel oil, Salmon oil, Sardine oil, Trout oil
Omega-6 fatty acids:
Omega-6 fatty acids are another type of polyunsaturated fat that is found in both animal and plant-based foods.
Linoleic Acid(LA): an omega-6 fatty acid that is necessary for skin and coat health. AAFCO recommends you feed 3.3 grams per 1000 kcal to the growing dog and 2.8 grams per 1000 kcal to an adult dog. Corn oil contains the highest amounts of LA when compared to all other vegetable oil.
Alpha-Linolenic Acid(ALA): an omega-3 fatty acid that is necessary for brain and nervous system development. According to AAFCo, this is not an essential fatty acid and is not necessary in dogs but good for cats.
Some of the health benefits of omega-6 fatty acids include:
Anti-inflammatory: they can help to reduce inflammation in the body. This is important for dogs that are prone to inflammation or that have an inflammatory disease.
Omega-6 fatty acids include:
- Linoleic acid (LA)
- Gamma linolenic acid (GLA)
- Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA)
- Arachidonic acid (AA)
This is an omega-6 fatty acid that is found in all vegetable oil. It is important for skin and coat health but too much can contribute to inflammation. As you can see from the table below, corn oil has more linoleic acid than chicken fat, canola oil, olive oil and coconut oil.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 Ratios in Vegetable Oil:
So, omega-3 causes inflammation, and omega 6 is anti-inflammation and it is important to mix both.
The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is 4:1. Some commercial dog food recipes have 10 or even higher, as high as 16:1 and that’s not good(source). Earlier research made the case for higher ratios and in fact, earlier expert guides recommended ratios as high as 15:1.
This imbalance is one of the reasons that chronic inflammation has become such a problem in the United States. Other problems that result from an imbalance of Omega-3 and six are;
- Cardiovascular issues like arrhythmia, high blood pressure and clogged arteries.
- Autoimmune diseases like arthritis, allergies, and cancer.
- Neurological disorders like depression, ADHD, and Alzheimer’s disease.
To maintain a healthy balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, it’s important to feed your dog a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The best way to do this is to supplement with fish oil or feed a diet that contains fish as the primary protein source.
Q: Are vegetables safe for dogs?
A: Vegetable oil is safe for dogs. While vegetable oil is not toxic to dogs, it is important to feed a diet that is balanced. Too many omega-6 fatty acids can lead to inflammation. The best way to maintain a healthy balance is to supplement with fish oil or feed a diet that contains fish as the primary protein source.
Q: What are the health benefits of omega-6 fatty acids?
A: Omega-6 fatty acids have many health benefits for dogs. They are anti-inflammatory and can help to reduce inflammation in the body. They are also important for skin and coat health.
Q: What is the ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet?
A: The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is 4:1. However, some commercial dog food recipes have ratios as high as 10 or even 16:1. This imbalance can lead to chronic inflammation and other problems like cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, and neurological disorders.
Q: is vegetable oil good for dogs skin?
A: Yes, vegetable oil is good for dogs’ skin. Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid is responsible for good dog coats and skin. Vegetable oil is rich in linoleic acid. It is an important part of a healthy diet and can help to keep the skin and coat healthy. However, it is important to feed a diet that is balanced. Too many omega-6 fatty acids can lead to inflammation.
Q: How much vegetable oil can i give my dog?
A: The amount of vegetable oil you provide to your dog will be determined by the type of oil and the size of your pet. It is critical to maintaining a balanced diet. Add 1 teaspoon vegetable oil to a tiny dog’s meal and 1 tablespoon to a large doggie’s meal.
Q: will vegetable oil hurt my dog?
A: No, vegetable oil is not toxic to dogs and will not hurt them. It
Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.
Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org