Despite what you have read on the internet or seen from TV personalities, soybean, corn, or canola oils are much better choices for homemade dog food than coconut, flaxseed, olive, or walnut oils.
The answer is bioavailable essential fatty acids. The essential, omega-6 fatty acid, linoleic acid, is extremely important for human and dog’s immune system to fight bacterial, fungus, and viral infections. It is the primary essential fatty acid in the walls of skin cells that keeps skin waterproof. Linoleic acid keeps skin moist and keeps fur full and healthy.
The other bioavailable, omega-3 essential fatty acid in soybean, corn, and canola oil is alpha-linolenic. This fatty acid makes sure omega-6 fatty acids don’t get out of control producing chemicals that kill or inhibit infectious agents. Alpha-linolenic acids also temper allergic reactions by reducing histamine release that causes itching and scratching in allergic dogs. It also reduces the inflammation in diseases like joint arthritis and inflammatory intestinal conditions. Alpha-linolenic acid also gives your dog that soft, shiny fur.
But don’t other oils contain linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid?
Yes, but not in a form the body can readily use!
Coconut, cottonseed, flaxseed, olive, palm, peanut, safflower, sesame, sunflower, and walnut oils contain essential fatty acids in an undifferentiated or unrefined state. They are like pumping crude oil straight from the well into your car’s tank. Unrefined oil will clog and destroy your car’s engine. Crude oil has to be refined to gasoline before your car can use it. The body has to refine the fatty acids into bioavailable form in oils that have undifferentiated fatty acids.
You and all other mammals, including your dog, do that very poorly. So poorly, that dogs fed coconut, flaxseed, olive oil or the other oils may eventually lose fur, lose the softness and luster of their fur, and may develop sores on their skin.
What cannot be seen is the effect on the immune system and susceptibility to infection because of depressed immune function. Coconut oil and olive oils are the worst because not only are the essential fatty acids in an unrefined form, these oils but also have woefully small amounts of unrefined linoleic and linolenic fatty acids.
The fatty acids in soybeans, corn, and canola are bioavailable.
Think of the fatty acids in soybeans, corn, and canola like gasoline – because they are “preformed” and immediately available, so when pumped into your dog’s “tank” will give her optimum performance without depending on the body for unpredictable conversion.
At Hearthstone Homemade, we prefer soybean oil. Corn oil is very high in preformed linoleic fatty acid but has small amounts of preformed alpha-linolenic fatty acid. Canola oil is just the opposite, with large amounts of preformed alpha-linolenic fatty acid and small amounts of preformed linoleic fatty acid. Soybean has the perfect ratio of preformed fatty acids.
But we don’t choose just any soybean oil. Our program features LifeOil. LifeOil brand is made from GMO-free soybeans and is expeller-pressed to avoid intense heat that degrades essential fatty acids and avoids the toxic chemicals used in chemical extraction of the oil from soybeans. You can feel assured your dog is getting the best source of essential fatty acids for maximum health.
Dr. Ken Tudor is a recognized expert and leader in the field of pet nutrition and fitness. In addition to co-founding a national campaign to help fight dog obesity, he developed a pet weight management program and served on the American Animal Hospital Association task force to develop their Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.