Are Fatty Acids Good For Dogs?

While all fats are not created equal, certain fatty acids are crucial for your dog’s good health.

“Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats,” explains Dr. Amy Dicke, a technical services veterinarian with Iams. “Certain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your dog and must be supplied through the diet. These omega-6s and omega-3s are keys for maintaining healthy cell growth.”

What Are the Health Benefits of Fatty Acids For Dogs?

Your dog needs linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that your dog can convert to a range of other omega-6 fatty acids, says Dr. Denise Elliott, a board-certified nutritionist for Banfield, The Pet Hospital.  Alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, can also be converted into other useful fatty acids.

These acids offer a multitude of benefits for your dog’s good health, including:

  • Healthy Skin and Coat

The mentioned fatty acids help make your dog’s coat glossy and soft. You should also see less dandruff and dry skin. Additionally, several studies have clearly shown the benefit of omega-3 EPA/DHA in alleviating the redness and itching and improving the skin and coat’s overall condition, says Elliott.

  • Neurological Development

Just as human babies need fat in their diet for brain development, DHA is essential in developing neurologic and optic tissue. Commercial pet food containing omega-3 will positively affect the learning ability of puppies, says Dicke.

  • Promotes Healing

Omega-3 acids can help your dog heal faster, reducing inflammation.

  • Intestinal Health

The anti-inflammatory qualities of omega-3 is beneficial for dogs suffering from irritable bowel disease, says Dr. Katy Nelson, a veterinarian and member of the Iams Pet Wellness Council.

  • Joint Health

Is your dog getting a little creaky when it comes to climbing up and down stairs or merely joining you on a walk around the block? A diet with a well-balanced combination of fatty acids may help. Again, it’s the reduction in inflammation that is key.

Finding the Right Fatty Acid Ingredients In Dog Food

Your dog’s food should contain a balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids alone can be inflammatory agents, notes Nelson. High-quality dog food should have a ratio of five or ten omega-6 fatty acids to one omega-3 fatty acid. “Not all diets supply the level of omega-3 fatty acids to achieve the benefits,” says Dicke. “The increased omega-3 supplementation is found primarily in the premium diets. Owners can look for a guarantee of omega-3 fatty acids in the guaranteed analysis section of the package.”

Vegetable oils and animal fats, such as chicken fat, are common sources of omega-6 fatty acids in pet food. Fish meals, fish oils, and flax are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

It’s a good idea to discuss your dog’s diet and your interest in fatty acids with your veterinarian. “Fatty acids are a complex field,” says Elliott. While many supplements are available on the market, these supplements aren’t regulated, and they may have unintended side effects. For example, cod liver oil has concentrations of vitamin A and vitamin D that can have adverse effects at high doses.

Adding fat through supplements to your dog’s diet also may lead to weight gain if not carefully monitored. If your dog receives the needed fatty acids through commercial food, then you can control caloric intake.

Consider these omega fatty acids a part of your overall health plan for your dog, not a miracle cure. If your dog is overweight or inactive, you’ll need to find a way to get it moving. “You have to do your part to allow the omega acids to be useful,” says Nelson.

How can dog food help give my pet a shiny coat? Is it just due to oils within the food?

Fatty acids are dog food ingredients that can help to promote a shiny, healthier coat. Omega-3s, derived from fish and some plants, form one group of fatty acids commonly found in quality dog foods. These oils do not cause inflammation, as some other fats can. 

Studies show that omega-3s may improve cardiovascular function while conferring other health benefits. Your dog can, therefore, not only look great but feel great too.

However, fatty acids aren’t the only dog food ingredients that can help maintain your dog’s coat. Vitamins A, E, C, and B2 also support your dog’s skin and coat, contributing to lush fur. Biotin, zinc, and copper additionally promote coat health. Copper, for example, helps your dog to metabolize fats and proteins better, ensuring that all those omega-3 fatty acids are put to good use.

Article written by Author: Kim Boatman

What Are the Health Benefits of Fatty Acids For Dogs

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