Many people have heard about the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids for humans. Did you know that they are also very good for dogs? Many dog foods already have them added, for a good reason. Some people choose to supplement them into their dog’s diet, as well. Fatty acids are specific types of healthy, polyunsaturated fats. Omega-3’s and Omega-6 fatty acids are the two main classes. Alpha-linolenic acid is the most commonly-known Omega-3 fatty acid. Linoleic acid and Gamma linoleic acid are the main types of Omega-6 fatty acids.
Sources of Fatty Acids
You may wonder if animal fat is the main source of these fatty acids. The answer is yes, and no. For example, beef fat contains only a small amount. However, cold water fish such as salmon contains high amounts. Sunflower oil and safflower oil are especially high in linoleic acid. Most pet foods contain a lot more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3’s.
How They Help Your Dog
Both types of fatty acids help maintain healthy skin, promote a strong immune system. They also play a strong role in cell growth. If your dog isn’t getting enough of them, you may notice things like dry, flaky skin, a dull coat, dermatitis or hair loss. Veterinarians often prescribe fish oil supplements to pets that have allergies, and dry, itchy skin.
Research shows that fatty acids play a far greater role in the health of your pet. According to Drs. Foster and Smith
, here are some ways that omega fatty acids can help your dog.
- Calming Inflammation: They are able to permeate cell membranes and help repair damage. They work to calm inflammation and as a result, stop itching. Inflammatory diseases that may be helped with omega fatty acids include ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Helping With Allergies and Autoimmune Conditions: Problems occur when the immune system overreacts. Adding certain fatty acids to the diet can help reduce symptoms.
- Dull and Dry Coats: Dull, brittle and dry hair often respond well to fatty acid supplementation.
- Yeast Infections: It has been proven that fatty acids slow down the growth of a common type of yeast infection found on the skin and ears of dogs.
- Preventing Atopy: Atopy is an allergies to pollens and molds in young puppies.
- The Eyes: Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in the proper development of the retina and the visual cortex.
- Heart Problems: Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may work to prevent certain cardiac problems. High blood pressure may be reduced and ventricular arrhythmias in dogs has been prevented by supplementing omega-3 fatty acids.
- May Help With Cancer: The development and metastasis of certain cancers have been shown to slow down with the addition of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Blood Plasma and Cholesterol: Supplementing fish oils has shown to decrease cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.
Many pet foods contain the minimum daily requirement of essential fatty acids. However, this is generally not enough for optimal health. In general, dog food contains more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3. For this reason, supplementing omega-3 is a good idea. Doing this can even can erase the need for your veterinarian to prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs like corticosteroids or antihistamines. It has been proven that fatty acids improve the health of the skin, coat, joints and other body systems in dogs. Because different fatty acids serve different purposes, you should choose the right one according to what condition needs to be helped. For example, for dry skin and dull coats, LA supplements are recommended. Allergies and inflammation can be helped with supplements high in EPA, DHA and GLA. To test if adding them to your dog’s diet is helping, experts suggest following a supplementation cours of 9 to 12 weeks. Whether your pet is healthy as can be, or fighting a disease, supplementing omega-3 fatty acids can act like a health insurance for your dog.