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Why fat in the diet isn't "bad" when you are a dog…

From the desk of Mogens Eliasen - first published: Date

Mogens Eliasen - the author of this article
on 'fat'

Most people in our modern society have been conditioned to believe that fat is bad - period.

When people want to take good care of their dogs, it is all too easy to conclude that the same goes for their dog...

Unfortunately, reality is different….

The dog is a completely different species, and its needs are totally different from what a human needs. What is good for you could be very bad for your dog - and vice versa!

Raw fat versus processed (cooked) fat

The fat you will find in human food items in the grocery stores or supermarkets is very rarely raw. If it were, we might not have experienced the problems we do! The processed fat causes a lot of problems for us that are totally indisputable, yet there are prime examples of Inuit people in Northern Canada and Greenland (Denmark) who eat lots of raw fat from seals and whales - and sustain a very supreme health! Notice: raw….

However, cook some bacon on a frying pan and let the fat melt off. When done, let the fat cool down again and see what you get. It does not take a chemist to conclude that the lard you get this way simply no longer chemically is the same as the raw fat was! It has undergone some irreversible changes to its chemical structure, and those changes render it a totally different substance, also in regards to its nutritional value!

Mind you, it still classifies chemically as "fat", meaning "glycerol esters of fatty acids" - which the chemical term is. But the heated substances have a different chemical structure than those that never have been heated. The unheated ones are the only ones that are available in nature as a food source. The heated ones simply don't exist in nature as a food source, and the metabolism in the body cannot transform them back to what they were before they got heated.

How dogs use fat in the metabolism

Another important thing to keep in mind is that dogs' metabolism is much more effective that the human metabolism when it comes to dealing with fat!

Let me give one example to illustrate this: Dogs don't have our problems when the issue is weight loss. The human body is quick to convert excess energy into fat - and very reluctant to let go of that fat again when energy supply is low. Instead, we literally burn up our muscle protein and leave the fat depots intact... That's why you feel fatigue when going on a diet, and that's why diets generally don't work - you gain the lost weight (plus some) immediately you start eating "normally" again.

That's not the case with dogs. Dogs do not feel fatigue if you skip a meal or two or three. They could not survive as hunters if that were the case. (They might not appreciate your attempts to make them fast, though - but that is exclusively because you developed habits that justify their expectations.)

I have seen my male dogs volunteer up to 12 days of fast when my bitch was in heat. These males certainly did not lose energy - only weight. And they quickly gained exactly the lost weight in just three weeks when the estrus was over. And I have seen my Search & Rescue dog teams work significantly more efficiently when the dogs worked on an empty stomach! Even days in a row. No human could do any of that…

Supplying fat for work - not carbohydrate

Many people have seen reports of liver and kidney problems coming from feeding fat. However, those studies are either conducted for humans or based on using cooked fat (or both) so they have no relevance whatsoever for our dogs. Personally, I suspect other culprits for those liver and kidney problems: Vaccination, flea protection, heart worm medication, de-worming, shampoos - there is a long list of dangerous chemicals available for people who do not know chemistry....

It is a well-known experience also from people who work their dogs physically hard (like sled dogs, Search and Rescue dogs etc.) that the dogs perform much better when given extra amounts of fat in their diet. Not extra protein, and certainly not extra carbohydrate. But fat. Totally opposite of what would be good for a human. Too much protein can cause allergy problems. Grain products (our main source of carbohydrates and energy) cause problems with the digestion of other food components and are not part of a natural diet at all.

This leaves fat as the only responsible choice for supply of extra energy. Raw, of course…


Mogens Eliasen


Mogens Eliasen holds a mag. scient. degree (comparable to a US Ph. D.) in Chemistry from Århus University, Denmark, has a extensive education also as military officer and in business management. He has been working with dogs, dog owners, dog trainers, and veterinarians since 1970. A large part of his dog work has been in the area of education and education planning, and as consultant for dog owners and dog training associations. He is a strong advocate of treating the dog with respect for its nature as domesticated wolf, and has published several books and videos on topics related to dogs, dog training, dog behavior, and responsible care of dogs. He publishes a newsletter "The Peeing Post" containing lots of tips and advice on all matters pertaining to dogs.

For more information about Mogens Eliasen, including links to other articles he has published, please send this e-mail to or visit or

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Titles available from K9joy®:

Anders Hallgren:
"The ABC's of Dog Language" (140 page book - 1996)
Understand what your dog is telling you - and communicate with it on its own terms. A must have for all dog lovers. Easy to read. Easy to use as reference.

Mogens Eliasen:
"The Dog's Social Behavior" (2.5 hr. video - 1998, updated on DVD 2006, with support materials on a CD)
How the dog's behavior is linked to its instincts and needs. What you can change and what is "for life". How you use this information to dramatically improve your relationship with your dog.

Mogens Eliasen:
"BrainWork for Smart Dogs" (380 page e-book - 2003)
How you get a happy and well-behaved dog, stimulating its brain with 15 minutes of fun per day. Dogs need to work and use their instinct in order to be in mental balance. Everyone can do it with these instructions. More than 40 exercises to choose from!

Mogens Eliasen:
"Don't Pull on the Leash!" (40 page e-book - 2005)
The 5 simple steps in this complete training manual will effectively stop any dog from pulling on the leash, with no pain or abuse and no special equipment - and make the start of a much better relationship with the dog.

Mogens Eliasen:
"Is Your Dog's Drinking Water Safe?" (30 page e-book - 2005, updated 2006)
A layman's overview of how and why drinking water gets contaminated - and what you can do about it.

Mogens Eliasen:
"Feeding Your Dog - the Natural Way" (1 hr. video - 1998)
The fastest introduction to get you started on feeding your dog a natural diet. It explains the dog's physiology in simple terms, so you also understand why you should do this.

Mogens Eliasen:
"Canine Choice - by Nature" (80 page e-book - 1999, updated 2005)
The simple "how-to" about feeding a natural diet for optimal health.

Mogens Eliasen:
"Raw Food for Dogs - the Ultimate Reference for Dog Owners"
(340 page e-book - revised/expanded 2006)
Everything you need for making your own informed decisions about what to feed your dog, and why and how. Includes numerous examples of feeding plans plus two chapters on how to work with your vet, also if he/she does not approve of your feeding...

Mogens Eliasen:
"The Wolf's Natural Diet - a Feeding Guide for Your Dog?"
(125 page e-book - 2004 updated/revised 2006)
What we know and don't know about the wolf and its natural feeding, and about the dog and its domestication, and what we can and cannot conclude from wolf to dog... this is the big "why?" behind any responsible approach to feeding your dog.

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