What Is Canola Oil?
Canola Oil, also known as Rapeseed Oil, is a monounsaturated fat derived from the rapeseed plant.
Many in the western world will be familiar with the appearance of vast agricultural fields of yellow rapeseed plants growing.
However, there is a slight difference between traditional Rapeseed Oil and the Canola Oil you may use in human cooking or see present in dog food.
This difference is because the plants that produce Canola Oil have been bred from rapeseed plants to contain less Erucic Acid, which is known to cause adverse health effects.
While a relatively new addition to many western countries, Rapeseed Oil has been popular in other countries like Japan, China, and India for a significant length of time.
This has been driven by Canola Oil’s increasing use in human and pet foods as a cheaper alternative to premium oils like Olive Oil.
Canola Oil is often present in many processed foods for human consumption that you may eat. Well-known examples of these foods include Margarine, Salad Dressings, Bread, Mayonaise, and cooking spray.
For example, the well-known brand of Butter in the United States, Land O Lakes, contains Canola Oil.
However, despite its popularity and increasing use, there are many critics of Canola Oil, and they say that it is not a positive ingredient as it is highly processed.
Some even draw comparisons to other highly processed foods like high fructose syrup.
Canola Oil can also be controversial as many growers use Genetically Modified plants, also known as GMOs.
While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with GMO plants, many believe they have unknown side effects or can have unintended consequences and interactions with non-GMO plants.
Why Is Canola Oil In Dog Food?
The primary reason that Canola Oil is included as an ingredient in many dog food recipes is to boost the levels of fat within the recipe.
Dogs need a blend of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber in their diet, and balancing these with meat, vegetable, and grain ingredients alone can be tricky.
This is especially true for low-fat meat or fish ingredients such as Chicken and Turkey. A small portion of Canola Oil can therefore boost fat levels, helping to provide a better balance of nutrition.
While Canola Oil is far from the only oil or high-fat ingredient that can be used for this task, it does come with some advantages over others.
As we will touch on in our nutrition section, Canola Oil offers high levels of some beneficial fats, which is an important positive trait.
If that wasn’t enough, Canola Oil is relatively low-cost compared to other oils and is easy to source in high quantities, perfect for mass production of dog food.
Canola Oil Nutrition
As mentioned, Canola Oil’s primary nutrition is in the form of fat, and this fat is vital for several bodily functions for dogs.
This includes their ability to absorb vitamins, keep warm, maintain cell membrane function, and synthesize hormones.
In addition to these core bodily uses, fat is probably better known for its use as a concentrated source of energy.
Having access to a concentrated energy source like this is especially important for dogs who are more active such as working dogs, younger dogs, or certain breeds of dogs.
However, many will argue that the best source of fat for dogs is animal fat, such as Chicken Fat or Beef Tallow.
This is because this closely mimics a dog’s ancestral diet, and their digestive systems are designed to absorb and digest animal fat.
However, others will argue that Canola Oil can be advantageous as it contains higher levels of the Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids, with only Flaxseed Oil containing higher quantities.
As regular readers of the site will know, we are firm believers in the Omega 3 Fatty Acids and the health benefits they can provide to dogs.
Some of these benefits include an improvement of a dog’s skin and coat, as well as improved brain and heart health.
While Canola Oil is far from the preferred source of these fatty acids, such as whole fish ingredients like Mackerel and Salmon, Canola Oil is a straightforward and cost-effective solution for many dog food brands and manufacturers.
If that wasn’t enough, Canola Oil is low in saturated fat and trans-fat, which humans are regularly reminded to avoid in their own diet to avoid high cholesterol.
Lastly, Canola Oil also surprisingly contains a small number of beneficial vitamins. Some examples of these vitamins include Vitamin E and Vitamin K, which are essential for heart, skin, and bone health in humans, and dogs.
Dog Food Brands That Use Canola Oil
While far from the most popular addition to dog food recipes, many brands use Canola Oil in their products in varying quantities.
Some well-known examples of brands that utilize Canola Oil in their recipes include American Journey, Natural Balance, Taste of the Wild, Blue Buffalo, Diamond, Wellness, Canidae, Earthborn Holistic, Go!, and Instinct.
In fact, while researching the use of ingredients in dog food recipes, we found that of the 100 most popular dry dog food recipes on Chewy.com, 7 of them contained Canola Oil.
While this might not seem like many, it is notable and shows it’s more popular than other oils like Sunflower Oil which had just four recipes utilizing them.
You can see an example of the use of Canola Oil in a dry dog food recipe in the ingredient list shown below, which is Taste of the Wild’s Ancient Stream recipe.
As you can see in this recipe, Canola Oil is a minor ingredient but still present in a notable quantity and is more abundant than other recognizable ingredients like Brown Rice, Tomato Pomace, and Salmon Oil.
It is also important to note that while some brands or recipes do not contain Canola Oil, many of them use other oils as an alternative that are very similar to Canola Oil, such as Sunflower Oil.
In these cases, the brand has likely chosen to stick with a single oil rather than a variety.
We are unlikely to be able to know why other oils are chosen over Canola Oil, but it could be that they are more accessible to source or are lower cost.
We will also note that there are a few high-profile brands that we found did not use Canola Oil in any of their recipes.
This includes industry giants like Purina Pro Plan and Royal Canin, as well as other well-known brands like Acana & Orijen.
As a clear expert on the subject of dog food and an animal lover, what dog food do u choose to feed your dog?
I understand this to be your personal opinion.