4 Best Low Fat Dog Foods: When & Why Your Dog Might Need It
Looking for the best low fat dog food can be really tough. Why? Well, mostly, when dog food companies make low fat dog foods (especially big commercial brands), they tend to reduce the amount of fat by reducing the amount of meat.
And that’s not good, since meat is an integral part of any dog’s diet. Also, your dog may not even need a low fat dog food. Hopefully, we can help you figure some of that stuff out. We’ll talk about why dogs need low fat foods, and we’ll give you some good, specific dog foods you can try based on the opinions of our experts.
Quick Picks: 4 Great Low-Fat Dog Foods
**Below, you'll find our expert's science-backed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Chewy.
Why Might Your Dog Need a Low Fat Dog Food?
Most of the time, if your dog needs a low fat dog food, it’s in response to some sort of medical condition. In general, dogs need fat, and lots of the dog foods we recommend on this blog have plenty of good sources of fat and omega fatty acids.
However, there are a handful of medical conditions that might make eating even a moderate amount of fat hard for your dog (not to mention messy for you).
Here’s a quick rundown of those conditions.
Some dogs just have a sensitive stomach in general. And if your dog has a sensitive stomach, you’ll definitely know it. You’ll be cleaning up your share of messes on a pretty regular basis.
There are lots of things you can do for a dog with a turbulent tummy, and one of them is to reduce the fat in his diet.
Dogs do need fat, and fat is important. However, it’s more difficult to digest than protein, so when there’s too much of it, your pup’s pipes might start misfiring (if you know what I mean).
Your vet may ask you to try a bunch of stuff to help your dog keep his digestion under control, and one of those things will probably be a low fat diet.
Pancreatitis is a condition that occurs when your dog’s pancreas becomes inflamed. The Pancreas is works closely with the stomach and helps digest food, so if it’s inflamed, it can cause malfunctions in the digestive system.
And it can make it especially difficult to digest fat.
The most common symptoms are loss of appetite and vomiting. But there are a few other symptoms to watch out for as well, including stomach pain, lethargy, diarrhea, fever, labored breathing, weird heartbeats and dehydration.
No one really knows what causes pancreatitis in dogs. We do know, however, that some breeds are more susceptible to it than others. For example, schnauzers tend to get it more than other dogs for some reason. Older, chubbier dogs are also at higher risk.
Most cases of pancreatitis aren’t that big of a deal, but serious cases can cause other problems and can sometimes even be fatal. So, of course, go with the golden rule here: if you’re not sure, just go to the vet. Better to be safe than sorry.
If your pup does have pancreatitis, one of the first things your vet will do (probably) is recommend a low fat diet, since eating fewer fats takes a bit of pressure off your pancreas.
We all love to feed our dogs, and it’s super fun to hold out a piece of your cheeseburger and see his little face light up. Trust me, I know.
However, overdoing the treats or feeding your dog the incorrect amount of food can make it easy for him to put on some extra pounds.
And extra weight can lead to a whole host of other problems, including stuff like pancreatitis (like we mentioned above) or joint problems, especially in bigger dogs.
If your furry friend does need to lose a bit of weight, one of the things you can try is a low fat diet. This isn’t because low fat foods make you lose weight (contrary to what you might hear from American food advertisers).
It’s really just that dog foods lower in fat tend to have fewer calories.
What to Look for in a Low Fat Dog Food
A lot of this is going to be common sense, and for the most part, you want to look for all of the good stuff you probably know about (because we’ve told you about a million times).
You want to make sure the main ingredient in the food is a good source of meat (whole meat or meat meal). You want to make sure there’s a good, wholesome source of carbohydrates, like brown rice or oats (or sweet potatoes if you’re staying away from grains).
You also want to make sure there are some omega fatty acids, which come from stuff like fish and flax. This is true even if you’re watching the fat content of your dog’s diet, since it’s more important to just monitor his total fat intake.
Lastly, we like to see lots of good produce. Fruits and veggies. In low fat foods, we’re partial to stuff with fiber, like leafy greens, since it aids digestion.
A Quick Look At a Few Low-Fat Dog Foods We Recommend
The Honest Kitchen is quickly become one of our favorite brands around here, which is funny because we were unreasonably skeptical of freeze-dried food when we first tried it. Just something… weird about out (I told you! Unreasonable!).
This stuff is very, very good, though, and this particular dog food is great for canine companions looking to reduce their fat intake.
The reason it tops our list, though, is that it keeps the protein high while keeping the fat low. There’s only 8.5% fat in this recipe, and the protein content is still 35%. That’s pretty amazing, really.
Plus, the main ingredient s white fish, so even though there’s relatively little fat, there are still plenty of omega fatty acids, which is great for your dog’s skin and coat.
Lastly, there’s lots of vegetables and plenty of fruit as well. We really like that there’s cabbage and parsley, since those leafy greens were something we were looking for.
In our opinion, this is one of the better low fat dog foods on the market.
This is another good dog food with adequate protein and low fat. It’s supposed to be formulated for chubby pups, but it should also be a good choice for dogs with pancreatic problems or sensitive stomachs (just be sure to ask your vet first).
We really like that the main ingredient is whole chicken, and protein makes up 25% of the food here, while fat accounts for only 8%, which is fairly low.
The carbs here come from sources like brown rice and cracked barley, although this formula also includes white rice and potatoes, which some owners like to avoid.
We also like that there’s a good amount of produce here as well: kelp, carrots, peas, apples, tomatoes, blueberries, spinach and a bunch of other good stuff. Kelp and spinach, especially, have lots of fiber, which is nice.
Overall, this is a good pick, too, and it’s significantly less expensive than the Honest Kitchen formula.
This is a good canned food with a very low fat content.
When we took our dog to the vet because she was having diarrhea, they put us on something very similar.
I don’t recommend canned foods too often here, since they’re mostly water; however, they are a good option for dogs with digestive problems because, well, they’re mostly water, which also makes them inherently low in fat.
In this particular food, only 1.4% of the food comes from fat. About 10% of the food is protein, and about 85% is water (in case you were wondering). Still, the main ingredient is chicken, which is nice.
We do want to note that we don’t think this is a good long-term food. It doesn’t have a good enough nutritional profile (hardly any fruits or vegetables).
But it should be very easy on the stomach, making it a fairly good choice if your pup needs help recovering from a digestive problem.
Fromm is a good brand, and we like most of their stuff. We’ve recommended plenty of it on this blog, anyway.
At approximately 17%, this particular recipe is going to have a bit more fat than the others on this list, but compared to other foods, that’s still very reasonable.
That said, you may want to go for even lower fat content if your dog has a condition like pancreatitis (again, ask your vet).
Other than that, there’s a lot to like here. The protein comes from duck and duck meal, and the carbs come from barley, sweet potatoes, brown rice and oatmeal.
You’ll also be able to find lots of good fruits and more than enough vegetables. For example, this dog food includes carrots, cauliflower, broccoli (fiber!), apples, green beans and a bunch of other fun stuff.
It’s a good one.
Like this article? Check out this one on the best foods for sensitive tummies or the one on puppy food. And we recently published this guide to feeding a dog with allergies. Or, if you're thinking about your dog's dental health, we put together a guide on good dental chews. And here's a guide to the best canned dog food.
**Disclaimer: Our dog food reviews are based mostly on (1) our expertise and that of the experts with whom we consult and (2) the information provided by the manufacturers. We do test many dog foods (with our dog's help), but we can't test them all. As such, please remember the above recommendations are our opinions, and you should consult your vet before making changes to your dog's diet.