Our Dogs World 101

What is Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) in Dog Food?

There are many reasons you should feed your dog grass-fed, pasture-raised beef. But conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) are the most important. CLA, which you naturally find in dogs, can help to reduce body fat and other diseases. That is why it is so essential for your dog’s long-term health.

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What is Conjugated Linoleic Acid?

Linoleic acid is the source of CLA. Linoleic acid is a vital omega-6 fatty acid. It’s found mainly in vegetable oils but lesser amounts in other foods. CLA is an alternative form of linoleic acid. It’s different in structure and function. Technically, CLA is a trans-fat. However, it’s a natural form that you can find in healthy foods.

This simple thing can make a massive difference in the health of your cells. You must stick to meat and natural foods to get this type of CLA for your dog.

Chunks of raw beefCLA is a poly-unsaturated omega-6 fatty oil naturally produced by animals such as cows, goats, and sheep. CLA is found in the meats and dairy products of these animals. This enzyme converts the omega-6 fats in grassy plants into CLA.

There are 28 types of CLA, but the most important, C9 and t11, are the natural ones found in grazing livestock’s meats and dairy products. There are many ways to arrange double bonds in various forms.

Are Dogs able to use CLA?

Dogs can use CLA for its anti-inflammatory and body-building properties. It also reduces the risk of contracting diabetes or heart disease.

Can CLA be Beneficial for Dogs with Cancer?

CLA reduces the body’s cancer-fighting levels of adiponectin. It can also increase blood sugar (a cancer food) and promote weight loss (a problem for dogs already suffering from cancer). It can cause the body to release inflammatory signals. Cancer progression is directly linked to inflammation.

The Dog Cancer Vet and author of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide) is against using CLA as a supplement for cancer. Let’s not forget that he is criticizing the use of CLA supplements… and NOT CLA that naturally occurs in dogs’ meat-based diets.

CLA, in its natural food form, may reduce cancer risk. It can be a problem when you give CLA supplements to pets for cancer management. Supplements containing the wrong CLA can cause more harm than good.

There are other options than CLA supplements to reduce the risk of canine cancer.

Benefits of CLA to Dogs

CLA is an antioxidant. CLA found in foods reduces the risk of many diseases, including cancer and type-2 diabetes. A supplement may not offer the same anti-cancer benefits due to the different forms of CLA. That is why we will discuss it in the next section.

CLA’s unique structure offers many health benefits, including:

  • Blood sugar regulation
  • Lean muscle mass increases
  • Increased bone mass and bone mineralization
  • Support for the immune and inflammatory systems

You can also use CLA to improve health in critical other ways…

Research has shown that CLA can help reduce body fat. It reduces animal body fat by increasing the number of enzymes and proteins involved in fat metabolism.

Research in countries where the grass is the mainstay of the bovine diet has shown that those with the highest levels of CLA and other vitamins are at lower risk for heart disease.

It’s worth noting that dogs that eat meat-based meals are also on a low carbohydrate diet. It means they consume fewer carbs and sugars per day than dogs that eat kibble. That will help your dog to control their weight. A better diet will result in a healthier dog. A better body condition is always possible with proper portion control.

Gym DogA study on mice showed that a CLA supplement could reduce body fat by 70% if taken for six weeks. One study found that it prevents fat gain. Other studies found that CLA decreased food intake, increased fat burn, stimulated fat metabolism, and inhibited fat production.

Although CLA is a well-known dietary supplement, there aren’t any studies to prove that supplements work better than CLA from food.

CLA helps to promote weight loss by decreasing fatty acid deposits in existing fat tissue and improving immune function. It stimulates thermogenesis, which is the burning of fatty acids for energy.

How to Feed CLA to Dogs?

CLA is approximately.5 to 1g per 4 ounces. That is 2 to 3 times the amount of CLA in grain-fed beef. We measure the CLA content in milligrams per kilogram of fat. You can find CLA in approximately 500 to 800 mg per 4 ounces of grass-fed beef.

CLA supplements can have side effects. You can feed him meat from ruminants like cows, goats, and sheep to give your dog CLA.

These are the best foods for dogs that contain the most CLA. Make sure that they are grass-fed:

  • Beef round steak: 2.9mg/g fat
  • Plain yogurt: 4.8 mg/g of fat
  • Butter: 6.0 mg/g fat
  • Lamb: 5.6 mg/g fat
  • Ground beef: 4.3 mg/g of fat

What Happens if my Dog gets Excessive CLA?

Studies using moderate doses of CLA supplementation have shown that they can cause mild to moderate side effects such as insulin resistance, upset stomach, and nausea.

CLA supplementation in high amounts can lead to inflammation, diabetes, insulin resistance, and lower “good” HDL cholesterol. These supplements can alter the way your dog metabolizes and absorbs sugar and carbohydrates.

You can give CLA supplements at higher doses than what your dog would receive in his food or meat. Research shows that large amounts of fat can cause liver damage. It can cause metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

Can Dogs Get Too Much CLA?

Yes, if it is in supplement form. CLA supplements are made by chemically altering the linoleic acids in vegetable oils, such as safflower oil. It is different from the CLA that dogs eat. Supplements contain CLA types that you cannot find in large quantities in nature.

Your dog will benefit from CLA in his food, especially grass-fed meat. It will be in the right amount and form for your dog’s body to metabolize.

Dog Foods Containing CLA

CLA content in milk samples is lowest in March and highest in August. It is not the only fatty acid found in grass-fed beef. There’s also a fatty acid called vaccenic acid. To increase grass-fed animals’ CLA, bacteria in their digestive tract can convert vaccenic acids into CLA.

However, grass-fed, pasture-raised beef is the best choice. CLA content is four to five times higher in grass-fed beef compared to grain-fed beef. The CLA content of an animal varies depending on its season and its diet.

Your dog’s diet should be more nutritious than any manufactured supplements.


Follow a whole-food, raw-meat diet, and ensure that some of your dog’s meat comes from pasture-raised, grass-fed animals. You can also add butter or ghee made from grass-fed cows to lower your dog’s overall fat.

Did you find this article useful? Feel free to share your thoughts. We would be happy to hear from you!

Stay tuned for more posts on dog care and much more!

“May Your Home Be Filled With Love And Dog Hair”


Founder of Our Dogs World 101

5 thoughts on “What is Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) in Dog Food?”

  1. It is important and useful to have in the dog’s food beef from the animal fed in the field and with grass.

     These truly conjugated linoleic acids are important. 

    How can these acids increase muscle mass and strengthen dogs’ health?

     I did not know of their importance, in fact in humans these aspects are important:

     the food should be from animals raised outdoors

  2. Hi Mark. In this day and age this is an incredibly important article that all dog owners should read. We have an increasing amount of people placing their animals on a vegetarian diet simply because they are on one and believe it’s the right thing to do. I’m glad I came across your article because I had no idea of exactly what CLA consisted of. I grew up with working dogs and they were raised on meat that was produced on the property, they also received milk and milk products and done vegetables. Our dogs were always very healthy. Move forward many years and I am retired, my dog gets little fresh meat but lots of dry food that is obviously fortified with CLA . She is far from healthy, and now I believe I know why. I will change her diet and include more fresh meat. Thanks Jim

  3. Hi Mark, I learn something new every time I visit your website, and today it is about conjugated linoleic acid in dog food. To be able to use it as an anti-inflammatory for dogs, is certainly a great benefit. I am surprised through to see plain yogurt on the list as I always thought that milk was not good for dogs? 

    For a dog to be on a raw meat diet, does one need to start it when they are a puppy, or can one switch later on in life? 


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