Many dog parents may have already been giving fish oil supplements to their dogs for a shinier, softer coat. However, fish oil for dogs has much more benefits to dogs than just giving them a shinier coat.
In fact, it has now been found that it is essential to supplement our dogs with fish oil or other sources of fatty acids. Why? Because animals can only produce some fatty acids, but not all.
What are Essential Fatty Acids?
Simply put, fatty acids are some types of polyunsaturated fats. Amongst these fatty acids, of utmost importance to dogs are Omega-3 and Omega-6 FAs.
Omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
Omega-6 fatty acids include:
- Linoleic acid (LA)
- Gamma linolenic acid (GLA)
- Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA)
- Arachidonic acid (AA)
Dogs cannot convert Omega-3 FAs to Omega-6, and vice versa. The ratio of these two FAs should be kept at a certain range in order for the dogs to obtain the maximum benefits from these FAs.
The recommended ratio range of Omega-6 to Omega-3 FAs is from 10:1 to 5:1 in the dog’s daily diet.
The Many Benefits of Fish Oil for Dogs
Fatty acid sources, such as fish oil, are beneficial to all dogs. In particular, they are especially valuable to dogs with the following health problems:
Dogs with inflammatory diseases such as canine osteoarthritis can see improvement in their conditions upon being given Omega-3 fatty acids as a dietary supplement.
One study has found that about 80% of the dogs in the study showed improved joint function after being supplemented with Omega-3 fatty acids. It has also been found that by supplementing a dog with Omega-3 fatty acids, the use of NSAIDs can be decreased.
The anti-inflammatory properties of Omega-3 fatty acid can also help dogs with allergies such as canine atopy. Studies show that adding large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids to an atopic dog’s diet can decrease inflammation and itchiness in the dog.
Omega-3 FAs, such as fish oil, have anti-inflammatory properties. It is believed that dogs with kidney disease can greatly benefit from supplementation of fish oil since the FAs in the fish oil can reduce inflammation in the kidneys and can slow down the progression of kidney disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial to dogs with heart disease, as they can prevent problems such as irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure in dogs.
Dry Skin and Hair
Dogs with dry skin and dull, brittle hair can greatly benefit from fatty acids.
It has been found that Omega-3 fatty acids boost the immune system, and can protect dog cancer patients against cancer cachexia (weight loss and muscle atrophy caused by cancer).