This is a popular question when people make food for their dogs and when it’s asked on social media the opinions fly. Belief systems are sometimes presented as facts, so let’s simplify 😊
The two most recognized ‘fats’ are omega 6 and omega 3. Both are essential, meaning the body can’t manufacture them so they must come from dietary sources.
Trying to balance the omega 3 and 6 content based on prey animals or historical feeding may be interesting, but unrealistic. There is no way to go back in time and see what fatty acid composition a prey animal may have had, nor are we able to duplicate it today even if we wanted to. Most of us are feeding farmed animals, so even those with access to pasture are consuming a vastly different forage from years gone by. Soil composition affects crops which affects the animals eating them and finally, the animal (dog or human) that consumes it. Add a global economy to this and you can see the possible variables.
Unless the diet is based on fish, you will need to add a source of omega 3 fatty acids. Best bet: fish oils. Top notch: Wild salmon oil so your dog gets the benefit of the antioxidant, astaxanthin. You can use flaxseed oil if your dog doesn’t tolerate fish oil, but the body needs to convert it to omega 3. People do it easily. Dogs, not as well. You may need to use more of it.
Fish based diets will lack omega 6 fatty acids, and so can meat and poultry-based diets. We analyze diets daily and see the results, so we feel confident in suggesting that focusing only on omega 3 creates a poor fatty acid profile. Plant based oils are a great source of omega 6 but they’re not all created equal. We like Flora, certified organic sunflower oil best.
Lastly, although coconut oil may have a place in diets for some dogs, it doesn’t contain omega 3 or 6 and should not be used in lieu of those other oils.