Fat is an important part of the basic elements of a balanced diet. Dogs and cats require fat in their diets to stay healthy and strong, in greater amounts than humans do. In fact, dogs do not suffer from atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, like humans do, so fat does not hold the same risks in dogs and cats as it does in humans. Dogs who don’t get an adequate amount of fat will not have the energy they need to run and play. Their coats will be dull and flaky, and they could even have reproductive problems from eliminating fat from the diet. And, of course the fat is what makes your pets food yummy! That doesn’t mean that they can eat as much fat as they want…obesity is deadly in animals, but we have talked about this in other articles. We want to analyze this specific ingredient today to help you realize quality makes a difference. As with most things; all fat is not created equally. It is yet another example of one of those ingredients that are very difficult to really tell the quality when you read a label.
While we usually keep these articles as a very high overview of the entire pet food industry, on this subject we will tell what Husse uses and WHY. This will give you the best understanding of how broad “fat” can be. Husse uses pork fats combined with salmon oil. We’ll walk you through why.
There are both nutritional and physical parameters that are considered when you choose a fat. For example, the optimal melting point and stability of the fat. Which fats are most resistant to rancidity, etc.? Below is a picture of a typical high-quality pork fat and a picture of chicken fat. The advantage of pork fat is that its melting point is below normal room temperature, so it is solid. Chicken fat is also nutritionally high quality, but it is liquid at room temperature. So, if chicken fat is used it would cause sticky kibbles which would not be easy to use; the fat would stick everywhere.
When using a certain type of fat (pork fat), quality is very important. It is important to understand that there are different types of pork fat. The most important differences are between moulting fat and pressure-rendered fat. Moulting fat means only white, high quality fats are cut. By moulting, you obtain perfectly white pork lard, suitable for human consumption. The alternative is to use “pressed fat”. This is obtained by pressing meal, obtained from byproducts. Generally, it is safe to say in the pet food world anything that is a “by product” should be avoided. Pressing fat, also called destruction fat, is a cheaper rendered fat; a lower quality fat with a different color; it is less stable; it is more oxidized, and it does not have a good palatability. This fat is not used by Husse.
Fat must also be quality tested to make sure the quality is high. One of the tests is with Rancimat equipment to control the stability of the product. This means we test whether the fats have been protected against rancidity. When old fats get in contact with oxygen they oxidize, and they lose flavor. For example, butter, after one or two weeks, gets a bad flavor; it becomes rancid (oxidized). The same reaction can occur during the aging of animal fat used in pet food. Therefore, antioxidants are added as early as possible in the production process. For premium products natural antioxidants are used – tocopherols and rosemary extract. The aim of the Rancimat test is to see if the fats are protected against oxidation. Another regular test is the Lovibond colorimeter test. This checks to ensure a good white color and is done by heating the fat. It is then checked to see if any has changed to a red color…if it is not the white stable fat then it is rejected.
One last fun fact about fat. Often pet owners will inquire about fat as a precaution if their pet has a protein allergy. When it comes to allergic reactions, does it make any difference if it is pork, beef or chicken fat? No! There is no difference, because allergic reactions are caused by protein not fat. Because fat does not contain protein, it cannot cause allergic reactions. So, for example if your pet is allergic to chicken, they would not have an allergic reaction to chicken fat.