Before reading this post I would like to say that although I talk mostly from the context of the canine diet, omega 3 fatty acids should also be a consideration when feeding your cat or kitten, as they will convey the same benefits.
Your dog is a fat burning machine and unless your dog suffers from an illness that requires them to be fed a low-fat diet then fats and oils should be seen as a vital and integral part of a functional and healthy diet. Providing high energy and supporting many of the body’s functions, this is an important food group that your dog does not want to miss out on.
This post will focus on one important group of fats that get a lot of attention in the health and fitness world for their many benefits, these are the Omega 3 fatty acids and unfortunately, due to today’s highly processed commercial pet food industry, it is likely that many dogs will have a deficiency in this area.
What are omega three fatty acids?
To put it simply omega three fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that mammalian bodies are unable to synthesise themselves, so dietary inclusion is required. As well as their effects on gene expression to produce anti-inflammatory responses in the body, they also play a role in the regulation of many metabolic functions.
There are three main omega three fatty acids the first of which EPA or Eicosapentaenoic acid is found in marine sources, mostly oily fish or fish oils. Second, DHA or Docosahexaenoic acid also found in oily fish and fish oils. And lastly, ALA or alpha-linolenic acid is plant-based and can be found in various seed oils such as hemp and flax.
ALA is inefficiently converted in the body to EPA and DHA so from these three fatty acids we will be forgetting about ALA and focusing on the more beneficial EPA and DHA for our dogs.
What are some of the known benefits for your dog?
Being that DHA and EPA are essential fatty acids that must come from our dogs’ diets it should go without saying that remedying a deficiency and making sure they get an optimal amount should come with a multitude of health benefits, study after study has shown that this is certainly the case.
Anti Inflammatory– Inflammation is often the root cause and direct effect of many diseased states, through the mediation of certain gene expressions omega three fatty acids can produce a powerful anti-inflammatory effect which will benefit any dog and in particular those with conditions such as osteoarthritis. Keeping unwanted inflammation at bay is key to keeping your dog in the best of health and will have positive effects throughout their whole body.
Anti-obesity– You might think that feeding fats would have a negative effect when fighting obesity due to the popular health culture over the last few decades of low-fat high carb diets to tackle that waistline, being high in calories you can see why this assumption might have been made ( industry bias aside ). However, we now know that the consumption of fats and in particular omega three fatty acids actually activate genes that play a vital role in fat burning.
Anti-cancer– Cancer seems to touch all of our lives at some point or another whether human or canine it is important to find ways of reducing this likelihood, omega three fatty acids have been shown to induce apoptosis or ‘cell death’ in cancer cells. This inhibits the formation of tumours and helps to prevent them from mastesising or spreading.
Supports cognitive health– Being that the brain is mostly a fantastic fatty lump sitting inside of your or your dog’s skull, it should be known that a portion of this is made up of the fatty acid DHA and no surprise then that omega three fatty acids in the diet help to support cognitive function and act as a defence against neural diseases, especially those which are age-related. Importantly lactating mothers with a diet rich in EPA and DHA will pass these fats on to their nursing pups which will support good cognitive development and function of the immune system.
Improves mood– Likely due to the depression-inflammation link a diet high in EPA and DHA has been shown to benefit mood and subjective well-being, moody or anxious pup?
Maybe they’re suffering from a deficiency!
Truth be told I could go on all day about the benefits of omega three fatty acids and fish oils, there is an absolute sea of information out there relating to this and I have only sampled a drop.
From the many benefits to cognitive health, kidney health, skin health it just seems that it plays a role in almost everything. What seems to be the case is that these are very important additions to ours, our dogs and our cats’ diets and that for the sake of their good health and wellbeing we should not be missing them out. With that being said I will continue this post with some easy ways you can make sure your pets are getting enough.
Dietary sources of omega 3
Now that all of the semi-sciency bits are behind us we can focus on the bit that really matters and that is food!! Or rather dietary sources of omega 3 as the title so eloquently states. This really doesn’t have to be complicated and there are a few options, some of which are more budget-friendly than others and can be broken down into the following categories.
Fish– It goes without saying that this should be common sense, so-called oily fish are a great source of DHA and EPA. Avoid farmed fish, wild caught salmon and trout are a good option but can become expensive, cheap and low in mercury sardines are a great option.
Since cooking will destroy most if not all of the b vitamin destroying thiaminase I would recommend this over raw. I use tins of cooked sardines as a pre-workout meal for my dogs, Nia and Lily and as a treat for our cat Pooss, fed in moderation of course due to them being packaged in brine but for 40p a tin this is by far the most budget-friendly option.
Fish oil supplements – This is a very convenient way to make sure you are feeding your dogs and cats an optimal amount of DHA and EPA without having to add much extra into their diet, you should look for good quality and this should not have to break the bank.
Personally, I like the company Aniforte for supplements such as this and they provide a variety of options when it comes to fish oils from straight up oil to oil capsules, just remember to follow the instructions on the label so that you don’t over or under do it.
To order your pet Aniforte’s Premium Salmon Oil or their handy Fish oil capsules, simply follow the links above.
If you enjoyed this post and are interested in delving deeper into how diet will affect the health of your dog then I would urge you to pick up a copy of Canine Nutrigenomics the new science of feeding your dog for optimum health. This book is full of great bits of information compiled from many studies and many years of experience from the authors, I use this book as a constant reference and it was a great help in writing this post.
*By purchasing through these links you are supporting epoch.pet as we get a small amount of commission, with no extra cost to you. This money helps keep the blog up and running and allows us to purchase pet products to review on our site. I only ever review products that are tried and tested by my girls and I think are great!
Hi everyone, It’s Katie here and I just wanted to quickly say I hope you all liked today’s post, I have been super busy working on some future hopes and plans for epoch.pet so my partner offer to lend a helping hand with blogging duties.
I have been wanting to add more canine nutrition posts to the blog for quite a while now but haven’t managed to do so. Thankfully, my partner is happy to write some interesting posts on this important topic, so stick around for more posts heading your way.
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