Fat Levels – What's the right amount for my pup's food?

Fat Levels – What's the right amount for my pup's food?

Learn more about fat – one of the very basic nutrients, essential for growth, development, and energy for your furry pal.

By Rudy Leschke —



Fat is one of the very basic nutrients essential for growth and development. The fatty acids making up fats and oils provide building blocks to support bodily functions. Specific benefits and functions are associated with the various fatty acids and some key fatty acids are discussed below. However, all fat provides the primary source of energy.  

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The appropriate fat level for any individual pet depends on activity level and life stage. For example, an adequate fat level to support growth is 8.5%, but levels as high as 33% are still considered safe. The minimum levels provide essential fatty acids that are not otherwise synthesized and support the development and function of cell membranes. However, because fats are a concentrated source of energy, higher than minimum levels are needed to create an appropriate food energy density. This energy density then determines the feeding quantity needed to deliver the daily calories required.

Appropriate fat ranges for various life stages and activity levels previously discussed are summarized below. It is important to remember that calorie requirements vary by dog, and an appropriate food energy density depends on both an individual dog's energy needs and the volume of food consumed.  

Fat Level Guidelines for Dog Food:

  • Highly Active Adults (Performance dogs):  20 to 30% 
  • Puppies:  18 to 24% 
  • Pregnant or Nursing Mothers:  similar to puppy or highly active 
  • Small Breed Adults:  similar to puppies 
  • Large Breed Puppies:  14 to 20% 
  • Moderately Active Adults:  14 to 20% 
  • Large Breed Adults:  10 to 16% 
  • Senior Adults:  8 to 12% 
  • Inactive or Overweight Adults:  5.5 to 10%  

Personalize Your Pup's Perfect Food:  

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