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Modern consumers seek differentiated food for their pets, with good palatability, presence of essential nutrients, quality ingredients and fresh raw material. This trend results in a considerable growth in pet food sales . Currently, Brazil is the third largest market for pet products and services worldwide.
With such a great potential to be explored, formulators and R&D professionals of the segment need to pay attention to the development of products that meet the expectations of the pet owners.
This type of formulation needs to include nutrients that are essential to animals’ health, to a healthy development of the body and the cognitive functions of them. Oils and Fats in Pet Food can’t be left among the nutrients.
The importance of oils and fats is due to its fatty acids composition. These are part of the cell membranes and constitute hormones, in addition to playing key roles for various vital functions.
Due to the type of constituent fatty acid, the oils and fats from animal origin are highly suitable to be part of pet foods.
In this post, we will discuss: the importance of these components to the health of pets, analyze why animal oils and fats should be part of the formulations and show solutions for the development of a successful pet food!
The role of oils and fats in pet foods
Oils and fats are mostly formed by triglycerides. These substances are formed by a molecule of glycerol linked to three fatty acids.
Fatty acids are the most important components in oils and fats, since they will dictate their characteristics and will have direct influence on health.
Physical properties that define an oil or a fat are also dictated by the type of constituent fatty acid. This happens because the presence of double bonds in the fatty acid chains causes them to be liquid at room temperature. Therefore, oils are mostly composed of unsaturated fatty acids.
On the other hand, fats are mainly composed of saturated fatty acids, which give them greater stability, resistance to oxidation and structuring properties.
A balance between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids is essential for the animals’ diet.
These components, in addition to being a source of energy, are also fat-soluble vitamins carriers (A, D, E, K), are part of the structure of cell membranes, contribute to the formation of hormones and help maintain animals´ skin and fur, healthy and bright.
Besides that, the presence of oils and fat in pet food helps to improve the palatability of the food considerably. To prevent impaired functions carried out by fatty acids, dogs must consume 10 to 15% of fat daily in the diet.
Essential Fatty Acids
Oils and fats in Pet Food are also sources of essential fatty acids, which are needed for specific functions of the body. However, they are not produced by the body. Thus, the only way to obtain such nutrients is through diet.
The essential fatty acids for animals are:
- Linoleic acid (Omega 6): present in soybean, sunflower and corn oils, and chicken fat, its absence in food leads to problems in the skin and fur of the animal, as well as the decrease of the dexterity of the dogs.
- A-linolenic acid (Omega 3): converted to EPA and DHA, these fatty acids are essential for brain development and eye health. It is found in flax, walnut and chia seed oils.
- Arachidonic acid: it is part of the fatty acid composition of the cellular membranes of the nervous tissue. It is present in beef, chicken and eggs.
- EPA: mostly found in marine fish and cold water, its absence leads to depression in mammals. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory properties.
- DHA: also present in marine fish and cold water. It is essential for the cognitive development of animals and for eye health.
All essential fatty acids have one feature in common: they are polyunsaturated, that is, they have several double bonds in their molecules.
The sources of these fatty acids are extremely susceptible to oxidation, causing rancidity and decreasing product quality. When working with this type of raw material it is necessary to avoid exposure to pro-oxidant factors such as light, oxygen and contact with metals.
It is important to note that the consumption of oxidized oils and fats negatively affects the health of pets. This type of deterioration leads to the formation of free radicals in food, which are related to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Animal fats in pet formulations. Why using them?
The fats of animal origin, besides presenting great palatability, are also highly digestible by the body of the pets.
Formulators of pet foods should aim in their products a balance between fats from ruminant animals, rich in saturated fatty acids, and those from poultry, which have a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
This balance will ensure that the feed is rich in the most varied types of fatty acids necessary for a good development of pets.
Which fats can be used in pet formulations?
Among the sources of animal fat, the chicken fat stands out for having a high content of Omega 6, one of the essential fatty acids. It also promotes a significant improvement in palatability, making the feed more pleasant for the animal.
Chicken fat is not a problem for dogs and cats that have allergies to this type of animal. This allergy happens because of the consumption of meat and chicken meal, not fat, which is safe for consumption by these animals.
Another viable option is pig fat: a survey pointed out that this type of fat is among the 10 foods that most contribute to a healthy balance of the body’s nutritional requirements.
In addition to being a source of minerals and vitamins in the B complex, pork fat has 60% of its composition in fatty acids composed of oleic acid. This monounsaturated fatty acid is related to benefits to the heart, arteries and skin, in addition to helping regulate hormones.
Also a source of oleic fatty acid, the pork crackling meal fat is the result of cooking, pressing and centrifugation of the pork crackling in order to separate the fat from the protein fraction.
On the market, there are options available for chicken fat, pork and pork crackling meal to be used as an ingredient in pet food.
The fat is obtained by pressing the meal after the cooking process. Free from any impurity, it comes from fresh and 100% natural raw material, which guarantees an oxidation free fat.
With a rising market, the pet food segment opens up a range of possibilities for R&D formulators.
The use of animal oils and fats in Pet Food as an ingredient for pet food development ensures optimal sensory characteristics and provides essential fatty acids for healthy animal development.
However, one should be aware of the type of fat to choose. It is important to know the composition and the quality of them to guarantee the desirable characteristics of the final product. Like this, it is possible to innovate always considering the health and well-being of the animals.