Which oils should you give your dog and why?
The use of oils for nutrition has become somewhat mainstream. Shelves upon shelves now riddle our grocery stores with every oil under the sun and from as many different producers. Oils come in three main types: cooking, salad and nutritional.
- Cooking oils, like canola or safflower, are regarded as those that can sustain high temperatures before reaching their “smoke point," or the point at which the oil burns. These oils are comparatively low in flavor and nutrients, which also break down in the process of heating.
- Salad oils, like extra virgin olive oil, have a lower smoke point, more flavor and more nutrients. And because heat breaks down these components, salad oils are usually kept and used at room temperature.
- Nutritional oils, like hemp seed oil, are the ones you will find refrigerated. Why? Because they are densely packed with nutrients. Nutrients can be volatile and subject to degradation at even slightly elevated temperatures.
Typically, the dosage for nutritional oils is measured in tablespoons or milliliters. But who wants to drink straight oil by itself? The answer is simple: incorporate nutritional oils into your daily meals.
Imagine this scenario: Your friend who you admire always has a bottle of hemp seed oil to drizzle on her food. She has bright eyes, beautiful skin and boundless energy. One day you’re over her house for lunch and you notice her drizzling hemp oil over her dog’s food as well. You look at her like she’s nuts and then you notice her dog also has bright eyes, a shiny coat and a lot of healthy energy. Hmmm...You figure there must be something to this oil thing.
The function of oils in your dog’s diet
First, there is the distinction between healthy and unhealthy fats, which are regarded as unsaturated and saturated, respectively.
Saturated fats are those found mostly in animal meats and animal products and are generally solid at room temperature. Saturated fats from animals contain high levels of LDL [bad] cholesterol which has been shown to increase risk of stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. There are plant-based saturated fats, but those do not contain cholesterol.
Unsaturated fats, or healthy fats, come from plants, some fish, and are liquid at room temperature. Unsaturated fats have been shown to have the opposite effect of saturated fats and are known to reduce LDL cholesterol and therefore reduce the risk of the many diseases.
Healthy fats, in the form of high-quality oils, serve a host of functions for your dog’s wellbeing. Different oils have different benefits and not all oils of the same genre are created equal.
You may have heard the term “fat-soluble” in reference to vitamins, minerals and metabolism. A healthy and balanced diet contains a wide variety of nutrients needing to be metabolized. Some of those nutrients are fat-soluble (as opposed to water-soluble) and require fat to be metabolized properly. Vitamins K, E, D and A are all fat-soluble and it’s the oils in your dog’s diet that transports these nutrients into their bloodstream.
Nerve and Brain Function
A dog’s brain and nervous systems are coated in fats which serve as a conductor for the electrical transmissions necessary for proper neurological and cognitive function. Maintaining adequate levels of these fats requires dietary supplementation, especially as your dog ages.
Skin and Coat
Cellular membranes contain fats that help control the balance of nutrients a cell requires to function optimally. One of the most obvious places to recognize healthy or unhealthy cellular function in your dog is by their skin and coat. Dry, itchy skin or a dull coat can mean that your dog’s diet is lacking in healthy fats.
The best oils for dogs
While there are many oils that are good for your dog, these are our top three based on maximum health benefits, nutrient density and ease of accessibility.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Found in most any grocery store, extra virgin olive oil is a treasure trove of good health. Known for high levels of antioxidants, chlorophyll and vitamin E, extra virgin olive oil is a no-brainer for supplementing your dog’s diet. However, EVOO is notoriously irr responsibly sourced and thus frequently contains other cheaper oils, as well. So make sure to always purchase organic, single source EVOO whenever possible.
You may have heard about Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and their importance in a balanced diet. Fish oils are commonly recognized as the premier source of these fats. However, dogs have been known to have allergic reactions to fish oils; not to mention they’re expensive, smelly and even more difficult to source than olive oil. While there are other plant-based sources of Omega 3 and 6, the best for dogs is flaxseed oil, as it can be found most grocery stores these days.
Hemp Seed Oil
Hands-down our favorite. Until the 1950s in the United States (when growth of industrialized hemp was banned), hemp meal was a major source of feed for animals. Farmers and ranchers knew how valuable hemp was in the diet of their livestock. Like flaxseed oil, hemp seed oil is also rich in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Like olive oil, hemp seed oil is rich in nutrients. What makes hemp stand out is that it is also by itself a complete protein and will enrich any diet.
Hemp oils for dogs
ZenSpray: the highest quality of hemp oils for dogs.
So if you find yourself thinking your friend is crazy for drizzling oil over her dog’s food then think again! She’s ahead of her time!
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Information contained or made available through the ColoradoDog website is not intended to constitute or substitute for legal advice or veterinary advice.