Omega-3 fatty acids have become quite the buzzword in health and wellness news in recent years – for both humans and their pets. Part of this is because the excessive consumption of heavily processed foods has left canines and their owners starved of essential vitamins, minerals, and oils.
But what are omega-3 fatty supplements? And are they good for your dog?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There are four kinds of dietary fats that exist in our food system: trans fats, saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats.
- Trans fats are bad fats and are a byproduct of food processing. They’re found in heavily processed foods.
- Saturated fats are good in moderation, and they include red meat.
- Monounsaturated fats, which include olive oil and nuts, are healthy fats.
- Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats that your body requires. Commonly found in fatty fish, they include omega-3 fatty acids.1
Your body also needs omega-6 fatty acids, but they’re often easier to come by in processed foods and grains. The fact that many dog foods are grain-based (even the meat in them, which is commonly corn-fed), means that dogs are often getting too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3. Dogs need a proper balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids for optimal body function, just like humans.2
Varieties of omega-3 fats are commonly found in cold-water fish, shellfish, flaxseed, and plant and nut oils. This is why you’ll often see omega-3 supplements used interchangeably with fish oil or flaxseed oil supplements.
Why You Should Choose Fish Oil For Your Dog’s Omega-3
Fish oils contain the two most essential omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Vegetable oils, like flaxseed oil, instead contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that the human body can easily convert into EPA and DHA.
But unfortunately, dogs’ bodies aren’t quite as efficient That’s why it’s best to feed your dog fish oil supplements when seeking out omega-3 fatty acids.3
What Are The Benefits of Omega-3 Dog Supplements?
So, what can a fish oil supplement do for your pooch? Let’s take a look at just some of the exceptional benefits they can provide.
Fish oil supplements…
Can help soothe joints
Omega-3 dog supplements can help can help with your pup’s troublesome joints. A study of dogs whose joints were causing them problems gave the affected pups fish oil over a six month period. The results, according to their owners, was an improved ability in rising from their resting position, playing, and an improvement in their ability to walk.4
Support healthy skin
Omega-3 may improve the condition of your dog’s skin and coat. This is not only great for the look of your dog, but it can also be a saving grace for those pups who suffer from dry, irritated skin.
One particular dog study using fish oil showed a significant improvement in skin condition and in the trauma created by them biting and scratching the area.5
Nourish the brain
Dogs are just as susceptible as humans when it comes to age-related cognitive decline. But unfortunately, it’s a lot harder to spot until it gets bad. The DHA in omega-3 fatty acids appears to slow the progression of this heartbreaking condition in both humans and dogs.
A study of 142 older dogs who were exhibiting behavior symptoms linked to mental decline (such as disorientation, disrupted sleep patterns, altered interactions with family members, altered activity levels, and loss of house training) saw some dogs fed a DHA-supplemented diet for 60 days. Each of those dogs showed a marked improvement in the above behavior categories.6
Assists the kidneys
Omega-3 dog supplements have also been shown to support proper kidney function.7
How To Buy Your Pup A Good Omega-3 Oil
Be choosy when selecting an omega-3 supplement for your pet. Not all oils are made equal when it comes to purity or a good balance of EPA and DHA acids. It’s always best to talk to your vet about their pet-preferred brands – those that are free of contaminants and are most easily absorbed by pets.
A Note On Storage: Omega fatty acids are very susceptible to turning rancid because of oxidation. They’re best stored in dark bottles and kept in the refrigerator. If they smell “off,” then it’s best to toss them out and start with a fresh bottle.
But First… Talk To Your Vet
It’s essential that you talk to your vet before introducing any new supplement into your pet’s diet. Vets are big fans of omega-3 fatty acids. But, it’s best that they advise you on the correct dosage for your dog’s size, as well as the safest brands to buy.