Essential Fatty Acids and Fish Oil in Pets
Updated: Mar 30
Essential fatty acids are necessary to optimize pet health
The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio may be what is causing inflammation in your pet's body
Your dog and cat's food may not have enough omega-3s present
Is flaxseed oil good for dogs?
The fish oil you're using may not be a sustainable source, learn more about omega3's that can help your pet feel amazing
Green-lipped mussels are an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids
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Are you currently using fish oils for your pets?
Does your pet need essential fatty acids?
What is fish oil with omega3 good for?
Do they even work, should your pet be on them?
Is it ok to give dogs fish oil?
If you’re feeling confused about where to start, make sure you stay tuned, because we’re going to be discussing what are essential fatty acids, what can happen if your pet is low in them, how they help the body and how you can start using them in your pet today. Click like if this is exactly what you need.
I’m Dr. Katie Woodley, holistic veterinarian and founder of the Natural Pet Doctor. I teach amazing pet parents like you how to optimize your pet’s health with natural remedies so that they can thrive and live a long and vibrant life.
Ok, let’s get into essential fatty acids starting with what are essential fatty acids?
These are fatty acids that are not synthesized by the body and are considered essential. Depending on where the double occurs between the carbon chains will dictate whether it’s an omega-3 or an omega-6.
Omega 6-s include linoleic and arachidonic acid.
Linoleic acid is a known dietary requirement for adult dogs and cats, adult cats also require arachidonic acid. Animal fats tend to be high in AA and help cats meet those requirements. Most linoleic acids are plant-based and come from corn, soybean oil, and canola oil.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid, EPA, and DHA.
DHA requirements are higher for puppies and kittens and are instrumental for neurological development and brain health, whereas EPA is the stronger anti-inflammatory fatty acid that many talk about when using fish oils for pain or to help inflammatory conditions. These are primarily found in marine sources – fish oil, algal oil, krill, and flaxseed.
These essential oils are important for overall health – they make up the cell membrane and support overall immune health and reduce inflammation in the body when the ratios are right.
However, most pets are too high in omega-6’s due to their diets compared to omega 3’s which can lead to health issues and an inflamed state in the body.
What could you see if there are low levels of fatty acids (including omega-6 in the body)?
Chronic skin infections, ear infections, dry, flaky skin, failure to thrive, reproductive problems.
These essential fatty acids are important for your pet to have.
One retrospective study of survival of cats with chronic kidney disease compared cats consuming a maintenance diet with those eating 1 of 7 commercially available renal diets. The renal diet with the highest EPA content (200 mg/100 kcal) was associated with the longest survival.
Another randomized, controlled, blinded prospective study that evaluated 40 client-owned cats with osteoarthritis fed a feline diet containing 188 mg EPA + DHA/100 kcal and supplemented with green-lipped mussel extract (a source of glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate) noted improved objective measures of mobility.
What about diets that have omega3s added to them?
The problem with many pet food diets is the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is too high in omega-6. By looking at the back of the bag you can see if there is corn oil, safflower oil, corn are being used, The other issue the way pet foods are processed reduces the bioavailability of fatty acids in the food.
These foods are cooked at 200-400 degrees, and we know when foods are cooked over 110 degrees it reduces the availability. So it may be put in at the start, but it’s not accessible to your pet’s body at the end.
However, if you are feeding a prescription diet that has high EPA + DHA amounts added to it, ask your veterinarian about supplementing more and whether you should do it. Too much can cause GI upset, platelet/clotting issues.
What can we use omega-3 fatty acids for in our pets?
There are numerous health conditions that can be helped due to the chronic inflammation that are associated with them. Allergies, osteoarthritis, diabetes, cancer, heart disease are just a few.
We also usually need to be adding omega-3’s into our pet’s diet to help balance the overabundance of omega-6’s, especially if they are being fed a higher carbohydrate diet.
One of the biggest mistakes I see pet parents make is by using flaxseed oil or you may notice a company citing that as their source of omega-3s for the food.
Here’s the problem…flaxseed oil is a good source of linoleic acid and ALA’s but your pets have a really hard time converting it to the beneficial DHA and EPA. It also contains the anti-nutrient phytic acid, so I would hesitate to use it as your source of omega-3’s.
There are better options.
What are some sources of omega-3’s you’ll see on the market?
Algal oil – this is high in DHA, but only has a small amount of EPA.
Hempseed oil – this is a better source than flaxseed and has other minerals present that will support your pet’s health.
Fish oil – these are high in EPA and DHA. Fish accumulate EPA and DHA from algae and phytoplankton.
Here are some of the things you need to watch out for if you’re using fish oil. Many are farmed and fed soy and corn which is high in omega-6’s and pesticides which will be present in the final product.
Menhaden fish are one of the most sought-after for omega-3 fats. They are important to the ocean ecology because they are filter feeders. They reduce algae blooms and allow photosynthesis to occur with the plants on the ocean floor.
One adult can filter 5760 gallons of water a day!
Krill oil is another source but unfortunately, their populations are being decimated which is affecting whales, penguins, and other fish. They do not accumulate heavy metals like fish do.
However, we can use other sources that have even more beneficial omega-3s in them and are sustainable.
Green-lipped mussels. These are bivalve mollusks in NZ. Their omega-3s are more bioavailable to your pet’s body and they are also rich in magnesium and zinc. They also help support the chondroitin in your pet’s joints too because they are rich in glycosaminoglycans.
What should you know for picking a quality omega-3 product?
This is super important so listen up.
Unfortunately, our pet’s products are runoff from the human industry. They can also be full of toxins (since fats are where they are stored in the body), pesticides, and heavy metals from the way the product is farmed and the source.
You must make sure the company is using an independent lab that tests for purity. This is called a certificate of analysis. You can call the company or the manufacturer and ask for this product. You want to know how they purify their products, how the product is preserved and protected from going rancid.
Omega-3 fatty acids are vulnerable to oxidative damage and can go rancid very quickly due to the double bonds in the carbon chain.
Because of this, once you’ve found a good source/company, make sure to only get a month’s supply at a time and refrigerate the product to help keep it more stable.
If you found these facts helpful, and you want more natural health tips on natural pain remedies, make sure you look below to get our free resource on natural remedies for pain control. It’ll give you even more resources to use to help your pets feel their best.
Now you know about omega-3 fatty acids and how to pick the best products to optimize your pet’s health.
If this video helped you, make sure to click the like button and comment below what helped you or if you have any questions. As always thank you so much for watching and together we can help your pets thrive naturally. I’ll see you in the next video.
*Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian or doctor. The information contained in thenaturalpetdoctor.com is strictly for educational purposes. Therefore, if you wish to apply ideas contained in thenaturalpetdoctor.com, you are taking full responsibility for your actions. Please consult your veterinarian for medical advice for your own pets. Dr. Katie Woodley cannot answer specific questions about your pet's medical issues or make medical recommendations for your pet without first establishing a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.