Which low-fat dog food is best?
The best food for your pet is the formula that supports its lifestyle and caters to its health needs and sensitivities. It’s not uncommon for dogs to have trouble digesting ingredients such as chicken, beef or soy. Some dogs with gastrointestinal issues struggle to break down fat as well.
Low-fat dog food formulas, which typically contain between 10% and 25% fat, help dogs with such sensitivities avoid bloat, upset and distress. Low-fat diets may also help overweight dogs struggling to shed unhealthy pounds. The top dog food, Royal Canin Gastrointestinal Low-Fat Dog Food, is carefully formulated to ease stomach problems.
What to know before you buy low-fat dog food
Low-fat dog food type
Some low-fat dog food is specifically designed to alleviate issues in the gastrointestinal tract. A low-fat formula lessens discomfort while incorporating ingredients to improve digestion. Some formulas require a veterinarian’s prescription.
Other low-fat formulas focus on weight management or weight loss. These are useful for dogs that need to get in shape or are less active.
Dry food vs. wet food
- Dry: Most dog food is dry kibble. Dry food appeals to pet owners as it is cost-effective, stays fresh for months with proper storage, and isn’t smelly or messy. For dogs, dry food helps clean teeth.
- Wet: It’s more aromatic for the dog and easier on its mouth and gums, ideal for dogs that are picky or have oral sensitivities. Wet food only lasts a few days, though, and it tends to be more expensive over time.
The smallest dry food bags are around 5 pounds, best suited for petite dogs. Medium bags are typically 15 to 20 pounds, while larger bags hold anywhere from 30 to even 50 pounds. Larger bags are more economical, as the price per pound of food is lower. To best preserve food, keep it in the bag in an airtight container, away from heat and moisture.
Wet food is sold in cans, most of which hold 13 ounces. Cans are sold in packs of six or 12.
When deciding on the quantity, consider how long your dog may be on the formula, and that it may not react positively. Some companies may agree to exchange the food.
What to look for in a quality low-fat dog food
Protein and carbohydrates
These formulas should not eliminate fat by sacrificing protein or increasing carbohydrates. Formulas low in protein lack energy needed for active dogs, while additional carbohydrates are not ideal for dogs struggling to stay active and lose weight.
Ingredients are listed in order of weight, from most to least; the first five tend to make up most of any formula. The word “meal” is often seen in the ingredients list: it simply means a dried, ground-up form of whatever word proceeds it, as in “chicken meal.”
Another common word is “byproduct,” such as chicken byproduct. This means the formula includes ingredients other than muscle, including liver, ears, tongue, kidneys and brains. According to PetMD, incorporating byproducts is an inexpensive but often unhealthy way to add weight to a formula without adding nutrients.
Seek out foods that feature omega-3 fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, to aid in digestion. Prebiotics and probiotics also improve gut health and the gastrointestinal tract as well as the immune system.
How much you can expect to spend on low-fat dog food
A medium bag of low-fat dry dog food costs $20-$40, with larger bags approaching and topping $60.
Low-fat dog food FAQ
What are signs my dog is allergic or sensitive to fat?
A. Excessive drooling, shedding, panting, itching or scratching are among signs a dog may have an allergy or sensitivity to an ingredient; pinpointing fat as the allergen may take time and could require a visit to a vet. Diarrhea and soft or loose stools probably indicate a digestive tract issue that could be a result of fat intolerance.
If you’re concerned your dog may be overweight, you can check for fatty deposits. Touch its chest: you should be able to feel the rib cage with a bit of pressure. In a profile view, a distended stomach indicates excess weight.
Should my dog eat grain-free food?
A. Grain-free formulas have exploded in number over the last few years, spurred in part by a rise in gluten-free diets among humans. While most brands sell grain-free food, the American Kennel Club says no research suggests grain poses a threat to dogs. Gluten and corn are common allergens, but many formulas with grains feature buckwheat, rice or flax.
What’s the best low-fat dog food to buy?
Top low-fat dog food
What you need to know: From a trusted name among vets, this comprehensive formula targets the digestive tract in dogs that struggle to break down fat.
What you’ll love: It includes omega-3 fatty acids and fish oil supplements to soothe an irritated digestive tract. It’s suitable for all dog breeds with either temporary or long-term issues.
What you should consider: A prescription is required for this expensive formula.
Where to buy: Sold by Chewy
Top low-fat dog food for the money
What you need to know: Chicken is the first ingredient in this high-protein, low-fat formula designed for weight loss and digestive support.
What you’ll love: In addition to weight management, this formula with omega-6 fatty acids, prebiotics and vitamin A helps support the immune system, digestive tract and coat. It’s also among the cheaper formulas considering the size.
What you should consider: It contains common allergens such as chicken, beef, egg and corn as well as chicken byproducts.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This weight management formula boosts muscle and heart function while helping to shed pounds.
What you’ll love: From a trusted brand, it features chicken, barley and brown rice as its first three ingredients. The smaller kibble size is easy to consume for dogs of all sizes.
What you should consider: While it boasts weight loss in 10 weeks, pair it with exercise to see results.
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Anthony Marcusa writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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