crude fat in dog food

What is Crude Fat in Dog Food and How Much Should There Be

Understanding the composition of your dog's diet is essential for ensuring their health and wellbeing. A key component of this is crude fat, a term you've likely seen on dog food labels but may not fully understand. Thankfully we are here to explain all you need to know about crude fat in dog food, how much your pet needs and why. Keep reading!

Key Summary

  • Crude fat in dog food is a key measure of total fat content, crucial for assessing pet nutrition.


  • This term on labels reflects quantity, not fat quality or type, and ideal levels vary by breed, age, and activity.


  • Dogs should have, on average, around 5.5% crude fat in their diet, although this can differ for various reasons, such as health or age. 

What is Crude Fat in Dog Food?

Crude fat, also known as the ether extract or the free lipid content, is the traditional measure of fat in dog food products, and is a particularly important metric when assessing your pet’s food and its nutritional content.


When you see "crude fat" on dog food nutrition labels, it denotes the total fat content of the product. However, this term doesn't provide information about the specific types or quality of fats present. It simply indicates the quantity of fat as determined by a standardised testing method, typically involving solvent extraction.

Top Tip: Crude fat can be found in animal sources such as chicken or beef. You will also find ingredients such as fish oil or flaxseed oil are good sources of fat for dogs.

Understanding the role of crude fat in dog food is crucial, as fats are a key source of energy and are necessary for the absorption of certain vitamins. Moreover, the ideal fat content in a dog's diet varies widely, influenced by factors such as the dog's breed, age, and activity level. For instance, active breeds may require food with higher crude fat content for energy, while older or less active dogs might benefit from a diet with lower fat content to maintain a healthy weight. Additionally, the balance of different types of fats, including essential fatty acids, is important for a dog's overall health, affecting everything from coat condition to joint health.

Understanding Crude Fat vs Total Fat in Dog Food

Understanding Crude Fat vs Total Fat in Dog Food

The distinction between 'fat' as listed on dog food labels and 'total fat' is pivotal in canine nutrition. In places like the UK, the 'fat' on labels usually denotes crude fat, which is a mix of various fat-soluble materials in the food, but doesn't specify the types or proportions of fats. The difference between crude fat and total fat is key for correctly interpreting dog food labels and understanding a diet's nutritional value.

The Role of Crude Fat in Canine Diets

Crude fat is a primary energy source in a dog's diet and supports bodily functions like vitamin absorption and maintaining a healthy coat. Dog foods are formulated with different crude fat levels to suit various dog needs. Active dogs might benefit from a higher crude fat diet, whereas lower crude fat is preferable for less active or older dogs to manage calorie intake and maintain a healthy weight.

Balancing Crude Fat with Crude Protein

In dog food, higher crude fat content often correlates with increased crude protein levels. This balance is essential for optimal digestion and utilisation of dietary fat. A well-balanced diet is crucial as excessive fat can lead to obesity and health issues. The interaction between crude fat and protein is a critical consideration in canine nutrition, ensuring that the diet meets the specific needs and health requirements of different dogs.

Is Crude Fat Good for Dogs?

Fats, including crude fat, are a vital part of a dog’s diet. They can be categorised into triglycerides and fatty acids, each playing unique roles:


Triglycerides are essential in both the diet and physiology of dogs. They provide dietary energy, enhance food taste, and aid in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, making them vital for a balanced canine diet.


In the body, triglycerides store energy and essential fatty acids, offer cushioning, and are integral in cell membrane structure and molecule transport. They also play a role in conducting nerve impulses, emphasising their importance in a dog's overall health and functioning.

Fatty Acids

Fatty acids in a dog's diet are divided into essential and nonessential types. Essential fatty acids, such as linoleic and alpha-linolenic acids, are crucial for skin and coat health and in reducing inflammation. Since dogs cannot produce these in adequate amounts, they must be obtained through their diet. 


Nonessential fatty acids, while produced by the body, are sometimes needed in greater quantities, especially during certain life stages. For example, DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is vital for the development of puppies' brains and eyes, leading to its inclusion in high-quality puppy diets for optimal early growth and development.

What is a Good Level of Crude Fat in Dog Food?

The minimum crude fat content in a dog's diet should be around 5.5%, with puppies requiring slightly more, about 8%. This increased need is due to their higher energy expenditure and the need for specific nutrients for growth and development. Active dogs also need higher fat levels for energy, however, for dogs prone to obesity, less active, or with conditions like pancreatitis or hyperlipidemia, a low-fat diet is beneficial. It's important to consult a veterinarian for tailored advice on your dog’s dietary needs.

Dog Food Brands with Good Crude Fat Levels

Some reputable dog food brands known for their appropriate crude fat levels include:

1. Beco

Our easily digestible, nutritionally balanced grain-free foods are great for a great choice for dogs of all ages and needs. Not only are the crude fat levels met, but so are a whole heap of other nutritional needs, including protein, vitamins, and nutrients that ensure your canine friend remains in tip-top condition all year round!


With a range of delicious flavours, your dog’s taste buds will be dancing. Try our classic Chicken with Carrot and Chicory, where you’ll find all the vitamins you need to support the immune system, skin and coat health, and muscle growth, and it’s easy on the digestive system for those with a more sensitive tummy. 


Not only do we make sure we take care of your pampered pooches' mealtime needs, we also take our responsibility to the planet seriously. Our ingredients are responsibly sourced, with the chicken in this recipe being traceable back to a single source in East Anglia. We’ve visited the farm ourselves, and the birds live free-range in surroundings that mirror their natural habitat. 

2. The Pack

For a plant-based option that is still nutritionally balanced, head to The Pack. Their No Cluck Casserole caters to vegan needs whilst still containing all a dog needs for a healthy lifestyle.


Served up in recyclable cans, it is vet-approved and has been created with pet food industry experts. It contains a plant-based meat made from pea protein, and offers 90% digestibility on top of that. Nutrients inside this dish are designed to build immunity, strengthen bones, and nourish your pup’s skin and coat.  


No Cluck Casserole also contains broccoli and hemp seeds which are great for supporting your dog’s bone health and joints, meaning this dish is good for both health and yummy tummy moments! 

The Pack. No Cluck Casserole

3. Billy & Margot

Billy & Margot offer a tempting range of raw dog foods that contain a good level of crude fat as well as over 65% protein content, no grains, and a unique superfood blend. 


Their Lamb Dry Dog Food uses quality, human-grade lamb that is nourishing and delicious, boosting it with superfoods and holistic ingredients. Designed by dog nutritionist, Marie Jones, this meal is rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, meaning your dog will benefit from healthy skin and a shiny coat. 


The tubs used for this raw dog food brand are also 100% recyclable, with packaging being made from plastic collected from coastal towns around the world.

Billy & Margot Lamb Dry Dog Food

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Crude Fat Bad for Dogs?

Not inherently, a certain amount of crude fat is healthy for dogs. The appropriateness of crude fat depends on the dog's individual health, breed, and lifestyle.

How Much Crude Fat Should a Dog with Pancreatitis Have?

Dogs with pancreatitis usually require low-fat diets, often less than 5% crude fat, but we would always recommend consulting with a vet to ensure that advice is tailored to your dog’s specific needs.

What is the Difference Between Crude Fat and Fat?

'Fat' on labels usually refers to crude fat, a mix of fat-soluble materials, unlike the more specific 'total fat' which includes all types of fats.

Are There Low Crude Fat Dog Food Options?

Yes, there are low crude fat offerings for dogs but this is really only necessary for dogs that require a low fat diet, as specified by a vet. 

Paws and Reflect

Understanding crude fat in dog food is crucial for maintaining your dog's health and well-being. 


Crude fat, a mixture of fat-soluble materials, is a significant energy source and aids in absorbing essential vitamins, yet it's not indicative of the fat's quality or type. 


The right balance of crude fat varies, depending on factors like breed, age, and activity level, and it's vital to balance it with other nutrients like protein. It's always advisable to consult a veterinarian for personalised dietary guidance, ensuring your dog receives a diet that's not just nutritionally adequate but also tailored to their specific health needs and lifestyle.

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