Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Pet Nutrition- How to Supplement your Pet’s Diet

Omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) areOmega-3 Fatty Acids in Pet Nutrition considered essential fatty acids that are being used increasingly in the management of many disease conditions.  Omega-3 fatty acids are thought to have benefits in many diseases in animals, including cancer, kidney and heart disease, skin diseases, allergic conditions and arthritis.  Although they may have benefits for animals with disease conditions, they are a necessary component of any animal’s diet, as animals cannot create them on their own and must obtain them from a dietary source.

Supplementing omega-3 fatty acids in the diet

Most pet foods contain large amounts of linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid), but much lower amounts of alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid).  The low levels of alpha-linolenic acid in pet foods, coupled with the body’s inefficiency of converting it to DHA and EPA and their gradual breakdown and elimination by the body results in a need to supplement the diet with DHA and EPA.   Fortunately, DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acid supplements have been shown to be well absorbed in dogs and cats.

Amount of omega-3 fatty acids to supplement in the diet

The dose of omega-3 fatty acid supplement is unknown.  It is uncertain whether the total amount of omega-3 fatty acid dose or the ratio of omega-6 fatty acid to omega-3 fatty acid ratio is more important.  However, a study in The Journal of Nutrition, September 2006, suggested that the omega-3 fatty acid dose was more important than the ratio of omega-6 fatty acid to omega-3 fatty acid.  Recommended daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids in dogs is 50-250 mg per kilogram of body weight.  Amounts required varies depending on the amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in the diet and whether or not they are being used to treat a disease condition.

Sources of omega-3 fatty acids

Commercially prepared balanced diets are typically supplemented with adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.  Supplementation is more important as part of  treatment for various disease conditions.  Omega -3 fatty acids are found most commonly in oils from marine animals, in particular cold-water fish, which contain EPA.  They are also commonly found in seed oils of flax seed, Canola seeds and other plants in the form of alpha-linolenic acid.

Quality of omega-3 fatty acid supplements

The quality of omega-3 fatty acid products on the market can very greatly.  Often times, it is a buyer beware situation and confidence of the product is based largely on the reputation of the company that produced the product.  The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) is a non–governmental, official public standards–setting authority for prescription and over–the–counter medicines and other healthcare products manufactured or sold in the United States.  USP also sets widely recognized standards for food ingredients and dietary supplements.  USP verifies the quality, purity, and potency of dietary supplement finished products. Only those that meet USP’s stringent criteria are awarded use of the USP Verified Dietary Supplement Mark to display on their product labels. Finding this mark on a dietary supplement label helps to assure consumers that the supplements they buy provide the expected value.

Click here to understand more about the role of Omega-3 fatty acids in your pet’s nutrition.

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Dr Stephen Atwater

Stephen W. Atwater, DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVIM (oncology) is a board-certified veterinary oncology specialist. His professional interests include utilizing emerging therapies for difficult to treat cancers.

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Comments

  1. avatar Ngoc says:

    I put my horse on Omega Fields Horse Shine w/ 3/1 ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 and her Chronic Inflamation in her legs went away cltopemely and I experienced no problems w/ gas or anything else w/my horse.

    1. While we do not have specific expertise in equine medicine, we are pleased that you have had success with Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids!