You feed a homemade dog food that recommends corn oil. You are leery of products made from genetically modified organisms or GMOs. What is the alternative since 88% of corn products are made from GMOs? Walnut oil may be an alternative but is not without risks.
Benefits of Walnut Oil
Commercially available walnuts and walnut products are not likely to be genetically modified. The GMO database lists only 15 experiments that have been performed involving walnut trees. These experiments have focused on improving root development, harvest efficiency and pest resistance. This early research has not yet brought GMO walnut products to market.
Walnut oil is rich in omega-6 fats. It contains virtually the same amount of omega-6 as corn oil.
Disadvantages of Walnut Oil
Dogs need the omega-6 fat called linoleic acid. The omega-6 fats in walnuts are a different type of fat that can be transformed into linoleic acid. Unfortunately, this transformation varies with individual metabolism. Some dogs may not be able to process adequate amounst of linoleic acid from standard amounts of walnut oil.
Walnut oil is almost 3 times expensive as corn oil. The leading brand of walnut oil sells for over $7 dollars for 16 ounces. A gallon of corn oil, four times the amount, costs less than $10.
The amount of linoleic acid in walnut oil is based on ideal analysis from the USDA food database. The leading brand of walnut oil has yet to report whether their product meets the USDA analysis. Veterinary nutritionists have been unable to confirm how much walnut oil is needed to meet the daily requirements of linoleic acid for dogs.
Walnut Oil in Homemade Dog Food
Walnut oil shows great promise as a non-GMO alternative for homemade diets. However, there are risks to substituting it for corn oil at this time.
Walnut oil makers need to disclose the amount of fat types in their products. Until they do, vets and dog owners do not know how much walnut oil to use in homemade recipes. The substitution should be 1-to-1 but that is based on theoretical analysis from the USDA. The real analysis may be different.
Individual metabolism adds another level of uncertainty. If certain dogs are unable to convert walnut oil’s fat to necessary fats, their diets will be deficient. This information is absolutely unknowable from animal to animal.
I am very sensitive to dog owners that mistrust GMOs. However, with our present knowledge about walnut oil it is difficult to say that it is a good choice. Hopefully, future information will help with the decision to substitute walnut oil for corn oil in our dog’s homemade food.
Dog Food Matters will resume regular blogs on January 20th. Until then, please peruse our catalog of posts.
~Dr Ken Tudor
THE DOG DIETITIAN