The Role of Omega-3 Supplements in Canine Health
If you are curious about dog supplements, you might be familiar with this super nutrient: omega-3. And, if you have come across any of those flashy endorsements about this ‘highly’ essential omega-3 supplement for dogs, you might even have ended up buying it. After all, who would not add such a potent supplement to their beloved pet’s diet?
But are omega fatty acids essential for your dog’s health? Can your dog get enough omegas from their food? Or do you need to add omega-3 fatty acid supplements to your dog’s diet? There are as many opinions as questions revolving around the role of omega-3 in canine health. Let’s understand the science of omega fatty acids for dogs to find out the answers.
Omegas for Dogs: What Are They, Benefits, Sources, and More
Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats, a source of energy. Fats are divided into two main groups: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3 includes alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). On the other hand, omega-6 includes linoleic acid (LA), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA), and arachidonic acid (AA).
Although the main function of fats is to provide energy, some fatty acids have their roles extended beyond providing energy. Among others, omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA play a crucial role in various metabolic processes and are important for your dog’s heart, skin and coat, joints, brain, immunity, cognitive function, and many other aspects of their overall health.
Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Dogs
To understand why omega-3s are important, we have explained here some of the major benefits of omega-3s for dogs.
Omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA are essential for brain health. They improve the cognitive function, behavioral function, and memory of dogs. These powerful nutrients are vital for puppies, as they help in brain development and promote balance and coordination.
Omega-3s derived from marine sources have anti-inflammatory effects. These fatty acids can be highly beneficial for senior or adult dogs suffering from arthritis or joint issues. Optimum levels of omega-3s can also help reduce symptoms like joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation, resulting in improved mobility.
Omega-3 supplements may benefit your dog’s heart as they improve cardiac function and reduce inflammation. According to studies, they have been proven to be beneficial for dogs with certain heart conditions, such as arrhythmias or heart failure. It also helps reduce the risk of heart disease in dogs.
Omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA, along with a low-protein diet, have been shown to have positive effects on dogs with chronic kidney diseases. Omega-3 also helps slow down the progression of kidney diseases by reducing the production of inflammatory compounds, which cause oxidative stress in the kidneys.
Skin & Coat Health
If your dog’s coat seems dull and unhealthy, adding an omega-3 supplement to its diet can work wonders. They are known to promote the skin and coat health of dogs with their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. These fats provide moisture to the skin and transform dry skin and lifeless coats into healthy, lustrous ones.
Foods or supplements with omega-3s have been lauded for strengthening the immune health of dogs. It can benefit dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes by improving their overall bodily functions and preventing chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc.
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA significantly reduces the chances of the occurrence of cancer in dogs. Omega-3s limit inflammation, slow down the growth and division of cancer cells, and stop cancer cells from developing into tumors. It may also help slow down the progression of this fatal disease in dogs diagnosed with cancer.
Anxiety & Depression
As per the studies, omega-3 supplementation is beneficial for dogs with anxiety or depression. These fatty acids provide calming effects by influencing the pathways that anti-anxiety medications work on. Therefore, if your pooch is anxious or hyperactive, you can consider omega-3 supplements.
Natural Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Here are some of the natural and healthy sources rich in omega-3 fatty acids:
- Fish: Fish oil from sardines, salmon, and tuna is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. If you don’t want to buy fish oils, you can also add diced tuna to your dog’s regular food.
- Eggs: Incorporating boiled or scrambled eggs into your dog’s meal is an excellent way of adding omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to their diet, as they provide EPA, DHA, and ALA.
- Green leafy vegetables: Leafy veggies like kale, spinach, and collard greens are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They are also rich in fiber and can help with digestion.
- Flax seeds: Flax seeds are a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids. They do not have that typical fishy smell and are therefore easier to add to your dog’s meals.
- Chia seeds: Chia seeds are tiny, tasteless seeds full of nutrients, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. You can easily top your dog’s meal with chia seeds or add them to their treats.
- Krill oil: Krill is a small shrimp-like crustacean packed with marine omega-3s EPA and DHA. Krill feeds on phytoplanktons (plant-like microorganisms) which are another superior source of omega fatty acids.
Can Dogs Get Enough Omega-3 from Their Food?
Your dog’s body cannot synthesize omegas, so they have to come from your dog’s food. Feeding a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help provide these essential nutrients to your dog. However, the metabolism of dogs for the conversion of less powerful ALA into EPA and DHA is limited, so your dog may not get them efficiently. Moreover, most dog food is prepared at high temperatures, which destroys sensitive omega fatty acids.
Furthermore, puppies, pregnant and lactating dogs, dogs with skin problems, and dogs with cardiovascular or kidney diseases may have a much higher requirement for omega-3 fatty acids, which cannot be met from their food alone. Consequently, it is recommended to add omega-3 supplements or sources rich in bioavailable EPA and DHA to your dog’s diet.
How to Tell If Your Dog Has an Omega Deficiency?
Generally, there are no symptoms that can help identify omega-3 deficiency in dogs. However, some emerging omega deficiency signs may indicate a need for omega-3 supplementation for your dog. These signs include dull coat, flaky skin, hair loss, brittle claws, delayed wound healing, obesity, skin problems, increased fatigue, etc.
Omega-3 Dosage Information for Dogs
Now that we have discussed the role of omega-3 fatty supplements for dogs, it is necessary to understand the correct dosage. The right dosage of omega supplement depends on several factors, like your dog’s size, weight, life stage, diet, health condition, etc. Typically, the target ranges of essential fatty acids fall between 20 and 100 mg/lb of body weight per day. However, only your vet can advise on the correct omega-3 intake for your dog by addressing its needs.
Maintaining Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids Ratio
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are crucial in maintaining your dog’s health. Apart from providing these nutrients to your dogs, it is very important to maintain a balance of the two. Misbalancing this ratio can cause many health problems. Generally, ready-made dog food is high in omega-6 and low in omega-3. If you are feeding commercial dog food, your dog may be getting fewer omega-3s. To prevent omega imbalance, take your veterinarian’s recommendation for adding an effective omega-3 fatty acid supplement like Lamberts High Potency Omega 3s and Dorwest Wheatgerm Oil Capsules to your dog’s diet.
What is the best source of omega-3 for dogs?
Omega-3 fatty acids are abundantly found in green vegetables, seeds, and marine sources like sardines and tuna. Eggs are also a great source of omega-3.
Can omega-3 help my dog’s allergies and itchy skin?
Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in maintaining your dog’s skin and coat health, and they may help ease allergies and itchy skin. However, we recommend consulting your vet to address the root cause of the problem.
What type of omega-3 is best for dogs?
Fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are dogs’ most powerful and important omega-3 fatty acids.
Is too much omega-3 bad for dogs?
Giving your dog too much omega-3 can disturb the omega-3 and omega-6 ratio, resulting in some health problems.
Can I give my dog human omega-3?
Omega-3 supplements are highly beneficial for dogs, but giving your dog human omega supplements is not a good idea as the dosage may vary.
Should I give my dog omega-3 every day?
Yes. Omega fatty acids play an important role in your dog’s metabolism. Hence, giving omega-3 supplements to your dog every day is a good way to deliver the essential omega-3 fatty acids.
Is it safe to give omega-3 to my dog for a long time?
As long as you stick to the recommended dosage, omega-3 supplementation is safe for the long term.