Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nothing Fishy About Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Well, except the smell since the main source of Omega-3 for dogs is fish oil. While flax seed oil is also a great source of Omega 3 for us humans, our dogs cannot utilize it the same way we do and supplementing flax seed oil to your dog's diet is not going to bring about the desired effect.

Fatty acids are important cellular components and they also play a significant role in brain function and immune function. 

The two types of fatty acids that are important to your dog's health are the Omega-3’s and the Omega-6’s.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Linoleic acid is an Omega-6 fatty acid and it is actually the only fatty acid that the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) considers an essential nutrient for dogs.

Linoleic acid is important for healthy skin, coat, and kidney function. 

The role of Omega-6 in immune function is to stimulate inflammation, blood clotting, and tissue repair.

In English, Omega-6 fatty acids are important for your dog body's ability to fight off infections, stop bleeding, and to heal.

Omega-6 fatty acids are usually abundant in dog food products. Vegetable oils are a good source of Omega-6 fatty acids, particularly safflower oil is high in linoleic acid.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have gotten a lot of attention lately and there is a good reason for that. Even though Omega-3s are not considered an essential nutrient for dogs by the AAFCO, they are gaining respect as a beneficial supplement for dogs.

In contrast to the Omega-6’s, Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties.

Inflammation is an important defense mechanism to fight off infections, remove foreign material, and to promote regeneration of damaged tissue. However, chronic inflammation that no longer serves any useful purpose can lead to number of serious health issues.

That's why supplementing Omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial for dogs with various health conditions such as allergies, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, kidney and heart disease, and even cancer.

If your dog is suffering from any of the above conditions talk to your veterinarian about Omega-3 supplementation. Yes, it means fish oil. Because heavy metal poisoning is a concern with fish oil supplementation, I believe that it is best to use pharmaceutical-grade, purified fish oil supplements. Finding the correct balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids in your dog’s diet is the key to promoting good health.

A recent University of Bristol study backed up the claims that omega-3-rich diets can substantially reduce damage from osteoarthritis.


Did I miss something? Leave a comment.

The Pet Nutrition Corner 
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega Fatty Acids: Sources, Effects, and Therapeutic Uses in Dogs 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Shown to Prevent or Slow Progression of Osteoarthritis
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  1. Thanks for providing facts about omega-6. Many fake posts are there on web. But people should read this one. Thank you again.
    -fish oil

  2. Hi - you write 'While flax seed oil is also a great source of Omega 3 for us humans, our dogs cannot utilize it the same way we do and supplementing flax seed oil to your dog's diet is not going to bring about the desired effect.' I was looking forward to an explanation as to why - Dr Bruce Syme for eg uses flaxseed oil in his raw diet mixes and he is highly regarded: how do I explain to him it's no the best - I need the facts. Hoping you can help! Thanks.

  3. Hi - resubmitted a comment today as hasn't appeared and been 6 weeks - was it not approved? Wanted to know the reason why flaxseed oil is not as good as fish oil. Thanks :)

    1. Hi, sorry, must have gotten lost in the spam.

      There is not a complete consensus on this--and yes, flax seed oil contains omega-3 fatty acids; however, fish-source omega-3 work best for dogs; see the link below for an example explanation