Omega 3 is vital for normal function of every organ system in the body, particularly the immune system. A lack of omega 3 can contribute to allergic and degenerative disorders.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to good health. They are a form of polyunsaturated fats that are not produced by the body and must be obtained from food. Omega 3 supplements may help solve many dog health problems.
The most beneficial types of omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). These are found in oily cold-water fish: tuna, salmon, trout, herring, sardines, bass, swordfish, and mackerel.
There is a vast difference in the omega 3/omega 6 balance in the diet of wild carnivores compared to common commercial dog foods. A wild animals diet, such as a Wolf, is composed mostly of small animals and birds eaten whole. This natural diet is high in omega 3 fatty acids and low in omega 6s. Commercial dog food are exactly the opposite. The majority of dog foods contain cereal grain which is high in omega 6 and low in omega 3 causing:
- Joint inflammation and arthritis
- Allergy – dry itchy skin, recurring skin infection, recurring ear infections
- Autoimmune disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease
- Loss of mental alertness in older dogs
While omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. This lack of omega 3 (and over consumption of omega 6) affects the health of our pets in ways that nutritionists and veterinarians are only just beginning to understand.
What to look for in a commercial food:
- Feed a low fat diet, preferably the fat content should be around half of the protein. ie: Protein 42%, Fat 22% or Protein 32%, Fat 15%
- Check the Omega 3 – 6 ratio, the ratio of omega 6 should be capped at four times the omega 3 amounts ie 4:1
- Go for the grain-free option in dry food, especially fish-based varieties for high Omegas. Earthborn Holistic, Canidae, Artemis, Taste of the Wild to name a few.
- If your pets diet is already high in Omega 6, then supplement with just Omega 3 (suggested dose: 1tsp per 20kg bodyweight)
- This can be doubled for pets that have arthritis, allergies, recurring skin problems, immune disorders like inflammatory bowel disease or chronic kidney disease. Of course, check with your veterinarian first.
If you have a high allergy dog you will by now be aware how the addition of Omega 3 assists in the battle against allergies and autoimmune conditions. Not only will your dog benefit by having better skin and a beautiful coat, Omega 3 supplements can also reduce fungal, yeast and bacterial infections in the skin and ears of dogs and cats.
Pets will gain immediate benefits from adding Omega 3 to their diet, however you may not notice an external change to their coat for three to four months. The reason for this is that Omega 3 will work first where it is most needed – in repairing cell damage, before making major repairs to the tissue and organs. The final benefits will be in your pets coat and skin health.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 are the ONLY two essential fats required for life.