Omega 3 oils are the new trendy supplement in both the pet food and human market, but unlike many dietary fads, Omega 3 oils are a true ‘super supplement’.
Dogs are facultive carnivores and evolved from wolves (in fact they now share the same name, Canis lupus). Their wild ancestors would have thrived on a diet of wild game that had in turn lived on a diet of wild grasses. This is where Omega 3 oils are made and therefore, such grass fed animals are a rich source of the Omega 3 oil which dogs cannot manufacture on their own.
Fast-forward to today and sadly many of our farmed animals do not have access to pasture and therefore their own level of Omega 3 is limited.
What are Omega 3 oils?
Omega 3 oils are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid and come in many forms. Of these forms – ALA, EPA and DHA are the most talked about. People can convert the form known as ALA to the healthful EPA and DHA but dogs are not as proficient at this process and ideally need to consume EPA and DHA directly for optimum health.
Why are they so important?
Omega 3 oils have a host of health benefits but of key importance is its role in reducing inflammation, maintain a healthy skin and coat and aiding brain function.
Many dogs suffer from the pain and of arthritis and a study of omega 3 supplementation found that arthritic dogs were better able to weight bare (Roush et al. 2010).
Many dogs, particularly Labrador retrievers can suffer from the uncomfortable skin condition, atopic dermatitis. Studies show that enriching the diet with omega 3 oil can be beneficial in managing this condition (Gueck et al. 2004).
Omega 3 oils can give a puppy a head start in life – it has been shown that puppies with high DHA levels were more readily trainable than those with low levels. We all want a well behaved dog and it seems supplementation can be a simple way to make those formative months more productive (Kelley et al. 2004).
To read more, here are the references!
Gueck T., Seidel A., Baumann D., Meister A. & Fuhrmann H. (2004). Alterations of mast cell mediator production and release by gamma-linolenic and docosahexaenoic acid. Veterinary dermatology, 15, 309-14.
Kelley R., Lepine A., Burr J., Shyan-Norwalt M. & Reinhart G. (2004). Effect of dietary fish oil on puppy trainability. In: Proceedings.
Roush J.K., Cross A.R., Renberg W.C., Dodd C.E., Sixby K.A., Fritsch D.A., Allen T.A., Jewell D.E., Richardson D.C., Leventhal P.S. & Hahn K.A. (2010). Evaluation of the effects of dietary supplementation with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids on weight bearing in dogs with osteoarthritis. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 236, 67-73.