How much fat and sugar is too much in your pup’s diet?

Dog nutrition is as complicated as our own. It’s a delicate balance to strike between the perfect amount of fat and sugar, along with protein, carbs, vitamins, minerals, and water. Pawrents could keep themselves awake at night just trying to get that balance right. You better have done well in your GCSE chemistry because it’s like you have to become some kind of super scientist to get it right.

We’re told that fat is bad. But that it’s actually also a critical part of a pup’s diet in the right dose. Or that sugar can lead to obesity. But isn’t sugar a carb, so that means it’s good for them? The short answer to that last one is no, but we’ll get to why in a little bit.

Why does it all have to be so complicated!?

Today, we’re going to break it down. We’re looking specifically into the roles fat and sugar play in your doggo’s diet, as well as identifying when too much becomes too much.

Let’s jump right in and start with fat…

Why is fat important?

In healthy doses, fat is actually good for your pup, playing a critical role in many aspects of their diet. 

First of all, it’s the most concentrated form of energy, essential to maintaining playtimes and those late-night zoomies. It’s also used as a structural component in cell membranes, making it important for protecting cells. 

Fats also carry and aid the absorption and digestion of fat-soluble vitamins (such as A, D, E, and K). They help with maintaining a healthy, shiny coat. And they play a part in the production of some hormone-like substances, such as prostaglandins, which are involved with injury and illness, inflammation, blood flow, and the induction of labour. Phew, so just a few things then!  

When does fat become a problem?

Fat becomes a problem in your dog’s diet when they’re eating too much for their energy requirement. Or, in simpler terms, when they’re eating more than they’re using. Any excess is stored in fat cells. And too much fat in the body is what leads to obesity and other related health issues. 

A high-fat diet is also linked to pancreatitis, especially when a pup’s getting large doses of fatty foods in one sitting. In this case, digestive enzymes activate early, rather than waiting until they reach the small intestine. This causes inflammation of the pancreas and tissue damage in the surrounding areas. The enzymes can even start digesting the pancreas itself. Not fun. At all.

The general consensus is that fats should make up around 5.5% of your doggo’s total daily calories. Going too much under or above this is where you might begin to notice some adverse effects.

fat and sugar 2

What about sugars?

Technically, sugar is a carbohydrate, making it a critical part of your pooch’s diet. It supplies energy and fuels a large amount of bodily processes in your pup – such as breathing, moving, and thinking.

Yes, sugar might technically be a carb, but it’s not one you should rely on. Just like it’s bad for us (unfortunately), it’s bad for them too. They are just as susceptible to diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay if they have too much refined sugar. Excess carbs in their diet will also be converted into sugar, increasing their risk of diabetes and obesity even further. Being unable to use and store sugar effectively can also wreak havoc on other aspects of their life. 

Their energy levels may be all over the place, they might lose muscle tone, and their ability to fight off infection and disease could be compromised. Diarrhoea and vomiting can happen as sugar impacts the balance of bacteria required to digest food. While inflammation caused by excess sugar can also lead to arthritis and dermatitis. 

All in all, too much sugar can lead to one very sad pooch.

A quick note on artificial sugars

While we’re on the topic, it only feels right to quickly mention artificial sugars. Or Xylitol in particular. It was on our list of foods that are dangerous to pups for a reason! 

Xylitol can be found in sugar-free items, diet foods, or even peanut butter. It’s bad for them because it causes a rapid drop in blood sugar and can result in liver failure, which could be fatal. You definitely want to stay away from this one.

Fat and sugar are two food groups we always hear mixed guidance about. Because, while they do play their own role in keeping your dog healthy, too much of either can quickly spell disaster. 

It’s always worth taking stock of how much of each your pooch is eating on a daily basis, and bringing more awareness into the ingredients lists of their food and treats moving forward.

At Swagwags, our wide range of natural, transparent recipes are designed specifically to help your pup live a longer, happier life. While our sensitivity tests help you uncover their unique dietary needs and requirements. With results in 72 hours and a consultation with us to break down the results, you’ll find their next favourite dinner in no time!