Dogs are very curious by nature and they will stick their nose everywhere, especially if it smells like food.
If you leave the kitchen unattended it’s like you’re inviting your pet to look around and see if he finds something he might like.
How about a bit of canola oil left in a pan? You wouldn’t find that inviting, but your dog would, because why not?
What do you do if your dog ate canola oil? Is there any cause for alarm? Is canola oil healthy for dogs?
First of all, there’s no need to panic unless your dog ate a large quantity of canola oil, but maybe it’s something you wouldn’t want in your dog’s diet on a regular basis.
In this article, we’ll have a look at canola oil, what nutrients it contains and explain why a lot of it might cause some serious health issues.
What is canola oil?
This type of oil is obtained from the crushed seeds of the rapeseed plant, a distant relative of cabbage, Brussels sprouts and mustard. Rapeseed is the third-largest vegetable oil source in the world.
Canola oil is considered one of the best oils for heart health as it contains less saturated fat than other types of oils. People having issues with their cholesterol levels are sometimes advised to switch to canola oil.
Canola can be used for grilling, stir-frying, sauteing and baking, and it goes well in salad dressings and sauces.
What are the main benefits of eating canola oil?
Aside from being lower in saturated fats, canola oil has high amounts of unsaturated fats. It also provides a large amount of omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), which is very good for health as it lowers blood pressure and fights inflammation. An adequate intake of ALA has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease in humans, although there are not enough studies to prove that it has the same effect in dogs.
What are the disadvantages of eating canola oil?
The biggest problem with canola oil is that it is a highly-refined product, and those are not good for dogs or humans. Refining means applying heat and using various chemicals to extract as much oil as possible from the seeds. This process may also lower the amount of valuable nutrients in the final product.
Of particular concern is a solvent called hexane, used in the extraction process. As a result, canola oil may contain residual traces of this solvent. Experts say the amount is negligible and won’t cause any harm to humans, but there are no studies on what it might do to dogs.
Also, there are concerns that the extraction process leads to the creation of trans fats, which are definitely good for your pet.
At the same time, some studies say that canola oil may be high on erucic acid, which can cause respiratory problems and even blindness. The FDA considers that the levels of erucic acid in canola oil is not dangerous to humans, but, once again, there are no studies on what this chemical might do to dogs.
What are the nutrition values for canola oil?
According to the USDA, 1 tablespoon (14g) of canola oil provides 124 calories, which is quite a lot. And all of it is fat. There are no carbs in canola oil, no protein,no fiber and no sodium.
As for micronutrients, there are few of those in this type of oil. One tablespoon of canola oil provides 10 mcg of vitamin K, which represents roughly 12% of the average individual’s daily recommended needs. For dogs, vitamin K is essential for the synthesis of coagulation proteins needed for blood to clot and it is often used in poisoning cases. Canola oil also contains some vitamin E, which is important for cell health and fat metabolism. It also fights oxidative stress. It also fights muscle degeneration and eye problems.
However, that’s about it. Canola oil has no other vitamins and no minerals.
What happens if my dog ate canola oil?
If there was a bit of canola oil left in the pan, your dog won’t have any problems. Worst case scenario, your pet will get diarrhea and there might be some vomiting, too. Messy, but not dangerous. Just keep an eye on the dog and be ready to rush him outside to do his business. Feed him a dish of boiled chicken breast and plain rice which will calm the stomach.
Yet, if you know your dog has a sensitive stomach and he’s not better by the next day, give the vet a call.
On the other hand, if the dog drank a large amount of canola oil for whatever reason, you definitely need to monitor him closely.
Too much fat in a dog’s diet can lead to pancreatitis, which is quite a serious issue. Pancreatitis causes the pancreas to become inflamed and the enzymes it releases can damage other organs in the area. This condition can be quite painful and life-threatening for your dog.
Here are the main symptoms of pancreatitis you need to watch out for:
- Loss of appetite
- Distended/tender abdomen
- Hunched back
- Fever weakness lethargy
If your dog is doing poorly after his dietary indiscretion, head to the vet right away as pancreatitis should be treated as a medical emergency.
Your pet might require IV fluids and anti-vomiting meditation. If you see the symptoms mentioned above do not offer the dog any more food as it’s preferable to allow the pancreas to rest.
As a general rule, you should avoid feeding your dog too much oil. Fats should not account for more than 10% of your dog’s diet. A diet high in fats may lead to chronic pancreatitis, which will cause your dog a lot of misery.
If you’d rather not give your dog canola oil, you may want to have a look at the label of his favorite chow. Many types of dog foods contain canola oil.
What if my dog ate used canola oil?
The question is what was the canola oil used for. The oil at the bottom of the pan might contain tiny bits of whatever you cooked in it and this may pose certain risks to your dog’s health.
Bits of meat won’t cause any problem. That’s what attracted the dog to the oil in the first place.
However, you might want to keep an eye on your dog if you used onion or garlic to flavor your meat. Both garlic and onion are toxic to dogs and have no place in his diet. That’s not to say your pet is in imminent danger if you used a normal amount of condiments or salt for that matter. Traces of onion or a bit of garlic won’t make your dog sick, but he might get an upset stomach.
What are the healthiest oils for dogs?
While too much fat might hurt your dog, your pet still needs oils in his diet. Here are the best alternatives, not only to canola oil, but to vegetable oils in general.
Fish oil is an amazing source of omega-3 fatty acids which can help prevent and combat arthritis in dogs. Omega-3 acids also reduce inflammation in the body and this might ease your dog’s arthritic pains. They also improve your dog’s memory. All in all, fish oils are great for senior dogs, whether they get them from actual fish or in supplement form.
Krill oil comes from a species of tiny shrimp-like creatures. As these creatures are very low on the food chain they don’t last long, which is good for us as they have little time to absorb the mercury that pollutes our oceans, and big fish. Krill oil is especially good for your dog’s joints and skin.
If you want to have a healthy pet, look for extra-virgin coconut oil, which is a great alternative to more processed saturated and trans fats. Coconut oil is also great for dogs with weight problems and it provides them with a lot of energy. This type of oil can also be applied topically to relieve dry skin.
This type of oil is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, so it’s good for your pet’s heart. It is also recommended for dogs with arthritis, not to mention that it improves kidney function and reduces blood pressure.
Olive oil improves your dog’s overall health as it gives a boost to his immune system, fights heart disease and can prevent diabetes. Olive oil will also make your dog’s coat shiny and keep his skin well moisturized.
Look for cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil at your local store as cheaper variants might be just a waste of money.
If your dog ate a bit of canola oil, chances are he will be just fine. It is not toxic to dogs, but it isn’t such a good choice for your pet, either. Canola oil is a great source of fatty acids, but since it is also highly-refined, it might be contaminated with chemicals. And it doesn’t provide any valuable nutrients, except for a few vitamins which your dog can get from fruit or vegetables.
If your dog ate quite a lot of canola oil, you might want to talk to your vet as your pet might develop pancreatitis, which can be lethal if left untreated.
¹ Photo of canola oil by Adam Engelhart on Flickr