Omega 3 supplements may help solve many dog health problems. -a30
There has been much fan fare about the benefits of Omega fatty oils for human consumption, but what about for our dogs? I was surprised recently on a vet visit when it was suggested that my dog's chronic skin allergies may be considerably relieved by omega 3, and that in turn may abate his chronic ear infections.
Omega 3 is surprisingly beneficial to both humans and dogs and extremely worthwhile adding to both your diets.
What are Omega 3 & Omega 6 fatty acids?
It is said that Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to human health. They are a form of polyunsaturated fats that are not made by the body and must be obtained from food. While it has been long known that trans and saturated fats (as found in butter and meat) can be bad for you because they raise cholesterol in the body, polyunsaturated fats can have the opposite effect.
The two main 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. Most plants except for seaweed do not contain EPA or DHA, however alphalinolenic acid (ALA) another form of omega 3 is contained in dark green leafy vegetables, flaxseed oil, canola oil, as well as nuts and beans, such as walnuts and soybeans.
Enzymes in a person's body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, which are the two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids easily utilized by the body. You will note that many texts suggest to only use marine based omega 3 so that your body (and your dogs) do not need to convert the ALA chemical before you use it.
What ratio for Omega 3 to Omega 6 for humans?
Not only should you and your dog consume the omega fats, but the ratio of the two types is extremely important. In fact the overconsumption of omega 6 fatty acids in the American diet has been blamed for many health issues. While omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, omega-6 fatty acids tend to promote inflammation. Ironically it may be in an attempt to eat healthy that these issues have arisen. Consider that omega-6 fatty acids are prevalent in the following foods: cereals, whole grain bread, margarine, and vegetable oils (corn, peanut, and sunflower). It is also known that people can ‘overdose’ on omega-6 fatty acid just by consuming meat from animals fed on grains rich in omega-6, such as corn.
Ironically what used to be a 1:1 ratio (omega 6 to omega 3) in human diets is now closer to 10:1. It is believed for humans that to ensure that the good benefits of omega 3 are realized, that the ratio of omega 6 should be capped at four times the omega 3 amounts.
In humans omega 3 is said to protect against heart disease, stroke and autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, attention deficient disorder, depression etc. An American health association recommends that people “consume 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids daily through food intake, most preferably through the consumption of fatty fish and that people with elevated triglycerides may need 2 to 4 grams of EPA and DHA per day provided as a supplement."
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF OMEGA 3 FOR DOGS?
- Reduces infections caused by yeast, fungal, bacteria in dogs ears.
- Treatment of allergic and inflammatory dermatological conditions in dogs.
- training and learning enhancing properties (increased brain function)
- Reduces cardiovascular problems like sudden cardiac death or arrhythmias, blood clots and hypertension.
- Assists in treatment of ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis
- Cholesterol profile. HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) rises with fish oil for dogs, providing a better cholesterol profile.
- Reduces incidence of renal damage.
- Reduces cancer cells proliferation.
- A high source of anti-oxidants – help cells repair themselves.
- shinier fur/ hair & control of "doggy odour" without needing regular shampoos.
Amazing results for Hyper allergenic dogs using Omega 3
Interestingly, most literature describes how omega three is healthy for humans and by extension, your dog. They also mainly mention its anti-oxidants effects and assisting dogs with arthritis. These benefits alone should have you consider using Omega 3 products however the science behind Omega three goes much deeper to the cellular level.
You may also not know that Omega 3 and Omega 6 are the ONLY two essential fats required for life.
However due to the negative affects of Omega 6 (inflammation etc), and that your dog is likely to already received substantial doses of this fatty acid in its diet, it is recommended to only provide fatty acid supplements that have Omega 3 fatty acids.
“Both (Omega 3 and 6) are integral components of the cell membrane of every cell in the body, and the balance of these fatty acids on the cell membrane determines how the cell functions. These essential fats naturally occur in raw animal fat, cereal grains, fruits and vegetables.” Ref 3
But Omega 3 EFA's are unstable, and are destroyed (turned rancid) by heat, light, and oxidation. Thus cooking and processing techniques readily destroy Omega 3 fats and their benefits much faster than Omega 6 fats – thus causing the imbalance in the ratio.
Like other articles I have created on the dog walker Melbourne site, this is another reason why it is essential to feed your dog as much raw meat as possible (and raw fish that are high in Omega 3 fats). Reference 3 also suggests that dog food manufacturers have for a long time purposely used foods high in Omega 6 EFA's (cereals and oils like safflower, sunflower and olive oil). These foods are much cheaper than meat and have very low levels of Omega 3.
So now not only do most manufactured pet foods contain very little meat (the base requirement for carnivore dogs) – they usually have very high levels of CHEAPER cereal and rice replacements. And in the process of cooking, destroy any Omega 3 they may contained.
“The effect of this imbalance (Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio) is most dramatic on the immune system, and in the skin. In the immune system, a correct balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 EFA's will direct the cells to react in a less reactive, less inflammatory pathway. However an excess of Omega 6 and deficiency of omega 3 will result in a pro inflammatory, over reactive immune system (stimulation of histamine releasing cells). This results in abnormally strong immune reactions to normal or mild allergenic stimuli; in people, Omega 3 deficiency has been linked to hay fever, asthma and allergies.
THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IS VITAL TO ALL OWNERS OF ALLERGY PRONE DOGS.
"In the skin itself, Omega 3 deficiency actually damages the outer layer of the skin. The skin has a fine fatty layer that covers the skin and hair shafts and is a waterproof, impermeable layer that also functions as an antibacterial layer. If this layer is deficient in Omega 3 EFA's, it loses its waterproof barrier, and the skin and hair becomes dry, flaky and brittle (like dandruff). The antibacterial layer is also damaged, allowing bacteria to invade into the skin and cause superficial infections (pyoderma/ hot spots), and this in turn causes irritation to the pet. The result is a dry, flaky coat, with no shine and itchy skin.“ ref 3
What type of Omega 3 is best for dogs
It is recommended to “only consume molecularly distilled, pure omega-3 fatty acids from marine sources.” Ref 1. This is because plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (from flaxseed oil and walnut oil) need your dog to convert conversion ALH (vegetable sourced Omega 3) into the EPA and DHA (the marine omega-3) before they can benefit from it.
If you pet already suffers from allergic conditions this will tax there body systems further as well as cause indigestion. “Most holistic veterinarians agree that dogs, cats and other carnivores are naturally set up to metabolize most of the essential fatty acids they need from meats and animal fats - not from vegetable oils.” (Quote from ‘animal essentials brand’)
You should also note that Omega-6 fatty acids are often included in Omega 3 supplements and include the following chemicals: Linoleic acid (LA), Gamma linolenic acid (GLA); Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA); Arachidonic acid (AA). Omega-9 fatty acids also exist but are known to decrease the concentrations of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the blood and skin and are not recommended for dogs.
Controversially reference 5 says that "Cod liver oil is not an acceptable substitute because this oil causes the body to store fat in the liver." Further it suggests that Cod liver oil has very high levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin D which you can accidently overdose your dog with causing liver damage.
Dogs Recommended dose Omega 3
Dosage depends on several things.
- The quality of the Omega three, and what the manufacturer recommends.
- The size of your dog
- If it has a pre-existing condition or it is on a maintenance schedule
You may find it interesting that there are omega 3 products manufactured specifically for dogs, while many sites suggest that you can give your dog the required quantity from the omega 3 sources you use.
Here are some of the recommended dog dosages
Ref 1: Health maintenance schedule: Large dogs above 35Kg – 800 mg twice weekly. Small dogs give 250 mg twice weekly. High allergy dogs (with psoriasis): Large dogs 1,200 mg three times a week, small dogs 500 mg three times per week.
Ref 2: This dog Omega 3 product contains capsules that have a minimum of 85 mg Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 59 mg Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They recommend “1 mL per 7 kg bodyweight per day”. Thus a 20 Kg dog would essentially receive 3mL which would contain 3 x (85+59 mg) = 432 mg per day.
Ref 3: This manufacturer recommends flax seed oil as the source of omega 3. It suggests that dogs should be placed on high daily dosage for three weeks before reverting to lower maintenance dosages. That higher dosages may be required if your dog has cooked meals rather than raw.
Ref 7: Maintenance dose: medium size dog one fish oil capsule (1 g of fish oil) containing 180 mg of Epa & 120 mg of DHA), every day. Maybe half of that amount if it is a small dog.
How to administer Omega 3 fatty acids
Most dogs will not eat a capsule directly however masking the taste with healthy meat based treats or on meat itself will usually work best.
Omega 3 overdose signs
There are very few dangerous side effects to Omega 3 over dosing. Since the amount of oil given is small it will not affect their weight however giving more than recommended doses can cause flatulence and loose stools which obviously will affect the comfort level of your dog. Essentially your dog’s body will use what it requires and expel the excess. A very serious but rare complication of extremely high doses is pancreatitis.
So providing higher doses than recommended in the hope of speeding up recovery will usually only result in waste and discomfort to your dog.
How long before you see results
It is suggested that cats and dogs will gain immediate benefits from Omega 3 inclusion in 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. Ref 5
Many pet foods have plenty of Omega 6 fatty acids included in them. Therefore, it is ONLY necessary (in regard to fatty acids) to supplement your dog’s diet with Omega 3 fatty acid.
Many dry dog foods (pellets) boast of their Omega 3 contents. However most contain flax seeds and flax seed oil meaning they have Alpha-linolenic Acid, ALA, which still needs to be converted to EPA or DHA Omega 3 versions. This puts extra burden on an already highly taxed dog immune system. Also anytime that the flax seed oil comes into contact with the air it will turn rancid and destroy any of the potential benefits of this ‘wrong’ form of Omega 3. Omega 3 fatty acids in the form of EPA or DHA only last hours at room temperatures before they go rancid but in the unlikely event that Omega 3 survives in dry pet food, you should be aware that many dogs don´t have the enzymes to convert ALA to EPA and DHA anyway.
Because many dogs consume dry pet foods and not regular enough quantities of Omega 3 rich fresh fish, they need an Omega 3 supplement. Make sure that this is from a trusted brand that uses marine sources to gain all of the life saving benefits previously mentioned.
If you have a high allergy dog you should by now understand how the addition of Omega 3 assists in the battle against allergies and autoimmune conditions. Not only will your dog have better skin and a more natural beautiful coat, Omega 3 supplements can reduce fungal, yeast and bacterial infections in the skin and ears of dogs and cats.
Article by Bruce Dwyer. If you wish to use any of this information please refer to the article as a reference and provide a link to http://www.dogwalkersmelbourne.com.au
Ref 1 http://www.ehow.com/facts_5007399_recommended-dosage-omega-3-dogs_.html
Ref 2 http://www.naturevet.com.au/prodetails.php?pid=83
Ref 3 http://www.ozpetshop.com.au/product_info.php/products_id/1595
Ref 4 http://petsadviser.com/food/how-to-add-omega-3-oils-to-dog-food/
Ref 5 http://www.vetshopaustralia.com.au/Natural-Ways-to-Control-Joint-Inflammation-W38.aspx
Ref 6 http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/omega-3+fatty+acids
Ref 7 http://www.omega-3-fish-oil-wonders.com/fish-oil-for-dogs.html