On average, pets eat roughly 30% of their daily calories from fat, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
But there’s one group that consumes far more of it: dogs.
A new study published online in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science shows that dogs consume more than twice the amount of fat per pound of body weight as do cats.
The researchers say that dogs’ appetite for fat is a major contributor to their obesity, and that their appetite for carbohydrates is a key factor in their weight gain.
Dogs and cats have evolved to have different feeding preferences, but they share a similar evolutionary history, said study author Lidia Hildreth, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
“We don’t think that we are just seeing a new trait in dogs,” she said.
Hildreth and her colleagues were interested in whether there were differences in how dogs’ and cats’ food preferences affect their metabolic rate, the amount a person can burn through in a given day, when eating, and the amount stored.
They found that dogs were more likely to be able to digest more food than cats, which suggests they have a higher metabolic rate.
“They are both eating, but it’s really a matter of where in the food chain they’re consuming more fat than the other,” Hildrette said.
Determining the fat content of your dog’s diet can help you decide what kind of dog to buy, she added.
“What you need to understand is that there are three main things that are important in the diet for dogs: what’s in the water, what’s inside the food, and what’s outside the food,” she explained.
“The food itself is important.
But how the food is packaged is also important.
If you’re going to make a decision on what kind, you have to understand where the fat is coming from.”
The researchers measured the metabolic rate of 10 male Labrador retrievers (Dobermans, Dobermans Pinschers, German shepherds, German shepherd dogs) and 10 female Labrador retrieves (Cocker Spaniels, Poodle mix, Chow Chow mix, and Labrador retriever mixes) in their cages during three different feeding sessions.
After each session, the dogs were allowed to drink and eat as they pleased for a period of two hours.
During the next 24 hours, they were measured and weighed to determine how much food they consumed.
In the study, the researchers fed the dogs either three different amounts of the same food, or one of the two different amounts.
At the beginning of each feeding session, a control group of 10 dogs was allowed to eat as much food as they wanted.
After 24 hours and the third feeding session with the same amount of food, the dog with the higher intake of fat had a higher caloric intake than the control group.
When the researchers compared the dogs’ metabolic rates to their body weights, they found that the higher the amount that they ate, the higher their caloric intake.
The researchers also looked at how quickly their metabolic rates increased after the dogs had eaten.
They did not find a difference in their metabolic response to food intake between dogs that had eaten higher amounts of fat and those that had not.
The findings suggest that dogs with higher fat intake may be eating more than their bodies can burn, which could explain why they gain weight.
“If you have a lot of fat in your diet, it makes it easier to absorb fat,” Hainreth said.
“It increases your metabolic rate and your appetite.”
However, when dogs have more fat in their diet, they may not be as efficient at digesting it.
“When you have an excess of fat, your body’s metabolism slows down and it may not even get the fat out of the diet,” Hildesten said.
“It’s very important to understand that this does not mean that dogs will gain weight or gain weight faster,” Hilett said.
Hildren’s research showed that dogs that were fed the same amounts of food as the control dogs but with a higher fat content gained an average of 1.4 pounds per week more than the dogs that ate the same percentage of their body weight.