Fat, one of the single most overlooked aspects of the diet. Fat can be a good thing & fat can be a bad thing. Lets take a closer look at the effects of fats & what impact they could have in the diet.
First off, fat is an essential part of the diet. Fats are critical to every single cell in your pets body. Fat is used as a source of energy, it is necessary for neurological development, and adequate amounts of the right fats are needed for absorption of fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E & K).
Where the fats come from is important.
A quick look at the ancestral diet of our dogs and cats will reveal something very important. Meat high in fat was not part of the diet. Wild game, which as we know is the most nutrient dense & "gold standard" of meats is quite low in fat (approx. 10%). Wild prey animals are lean. They are lean, red meat.
Now understandably most of us are not feeding a diet of all wild game meats. We are relying on meats from animals that us humans are responsible for feeding. What goes wrong here is that we basically create animals that have a much higher fat content than anything in the wild ever would. So this is where you need to be careful when selecting your pets meat.
We know red meats are very important in the raw diet. The diet really needs to incorporate at bare minimum 50% red meat, really the more the better. Here's the part where people often go wrong. The fat content of the meat you choose is really important! Why? Because as the fat content of the meat increases, the protein & mineral/vitamin content of the meat decreases. There is a direct relationship here that should not be ignored!
Take a look at ground beef. Its probably one of the first things many people grab when looking to add red meat. Now ground beef can be purchased in varying fat contents. Usually from 70% -93% lean.
Lets look at just protein content first.
The 70% lean beef would give you 43g of protein per 1000kcal.
The 90% lean beef would give you 118g of protein per 1000kcal.
The beef with the lower fat content contains more than 2 times the protein! This is important considering the recommended minimum amount of protein for a growing puppy is 56.3grams, and even an adults minimum recommendation is 45grams. That's bare minimum needed. The fattier beef isn't looking so good already.
Now lets look at the comparison of some minerals.
The 70% lean beef would give you 10.7g of zinc per 1000kcal
The 90% lean beef would give you 27g of zinc per 1000kcal
Again, less than half the zinc in the fattier beef!
How about iron?
The 70% lean beef would give you 4.9g iron per 1000kcal
The 90% lean beef would give you 12.7g iron per 1000kcal
That's quite a difference!
Now can you see the emerging trend here? You can take most any vitamin or mineral and compare them in the two and you will see the fattier beef will always contain significantly less nutrition. In most cases about half. If you'd like to compare nutrition yourself head to: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/search/list and search for the foods you'd like to compare.
As a general rule if your meat is over 10% fat, the bulk of your calories will come from fat. Now fat is needed but it's one of those "too much of a good thing" scenarios because as you can see the higher the fat content of your meat the less nutrients your going to get.
It really all makes sense when you look at the composition of the ancestral diet.....10% fat & 20% protein is the average composition of your wild game. You can talk about nutrition as technical and scientific as you want but the simplicity of it is we optimally are looking for the solution that would match what these animals would naturally eat...the whole wild prey animal.
If your interested in learning more about the ancestral diet I'd highly recommend this book:
So hopefully if you never considered how the fat content of your meat affected the diet you now have a little bit better understanding of a simple change you can be mindful of when selecting the meat you feed your pets..... and just how much of a difference a little fat can make!