OMEGA 3’S FOR YOUR PETS
If there is one thing all pet owners should consider as a supplement to their pet’s diet, it is Omega 3’s. Since we started helping pet owners convert their pets onto raw diets over 10 years ago, we have provided a sample fish oil to be included in their food. We feel it is that important. It is easy to build into your feeding routine, the cost per mil is small, while the benefits are numerous.
Let us dig a little deeper into Omega 3’s by looking at
Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s
Omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fatty acids that our pets need for good health. Unfortunately, the diets of most dogs and cats contain too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3. In addition, most processed and packaged dry pet foods are exposed to heat, oxygen and/or light. This degrades any omega-3 to almost negligible amounts, resulting in very unbalanced omega-3 to omega-6 ratios. Too much omega-6 can result in inflammation, which is the root cause of many common health problems in pets today
The optimal amount of Omega 3’s our pets need cannot be synthesized by their bodies naturally. Wild cats and dogs get much of what they need through the stomach and stomach contents of their prey. So, we need to help them along by getting the appropriate amount of 3’s into their diet.
A diet too high in Omega 6’s over the long term can cause chronic inflammation. We all know too much inflammation is not a good thing and can lead to allergies, arthritis, autoimmune disease, diabetes, and cancer to name a few. If we can lower the risks of these chronic illnesses by including reliable sources of Omega 3’s, then we are certainly helping our pets live a longer and healthier life.
Sources of Omega 3’s
The most commons sources of Omega 3’s comes from our oceans. Fish is an amazing source of Omega 3 fatty acids. The best quality and concentration of these fatty acids comes from cold water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines.
Other sources of omega 3’s come from nuts and seeds like flaxseed, chia seed and walnuts.
Eggs from chickens, duck and quail are great sources as well.
Green Beef/Lamb Tripe (the stomach lining of grass cows and lambs) also contain a decent amount of Omega 3’s.
Fish Oils are often the source of choice to get the right amount of Omega 3’s into their diet. Some like to include raw salmon or a fish mixture into their pets’ menu plan. This might work, but for me, you would need to feed too much fish-based protein in your rotation to get the proper amount of Omega 3’s into their diet. Also, it is quite easy to dose fish oil to achieve the correct balance (we will deal with dosing a little later).
Benefits of Fish Oils (Omega 3’s)
Superior quality fish oils can provide our pets with the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA. These are considered essential because our pets are unable to produce enough of these fatty acids on their own. Hence, we need to supplement them into their diet.
We already mentioned the anti-inflammatory benefits that is provided by the EPA in fish oils. DHA is vital for eye, brain and nervous system health. Here are a few more benefits of EPA and DHA…
Skin and coat health
Can lower heart disease risks
Improves joint health
Potential to decrease the risk of some cancers
Reduces metabolic endotoxemia in the gut
Helps probiotics to boost beneficial bacteria in the gut
If you are a raw feeder, you know that there are times that your pets’ poops can be quite dry and crumbly or they might struggle a little more than usual to pass their stool. Well, a good side benefit of including a good fish oil in their diet is to help lubricate those pipes so things can slide a little easier. Makes sense, right?
Some dogs and cats will exhibit signs that they are lacking EPA and DHA in their diet. Dull or poor coat, dry and flaky skin and hot spots to name a few.
Dosing Fish Oils into your pet’s diet
Every fish oil is different. Some may have similar content of EPA and DHA per mil while others may have higher. Usually, the colder the water the fish comes from, the higher the concentration of Omega 3 fatty acids.
This being said, you can usually look at dosing five mil per 20lb to 25lb of body weight daily. This will help get the omega 3’s into a good balance with the amount of omega 6’s your dog or cat will consume over a period of time. We carry a number of fish oils in our stores and each brand of oil will offer a slightly different dosing chart. Some make it really easy to dose with a pump application. You can check out our selection of fish oils and hemp oils HERE
Many customers ask what the best source of Omega 3 fatty acid is. I’m a big believer on not relying on one type of fish or one brand of fish oil. I really like to mix it up. This can prevent any potential sensitivity to over-use, and I love to offer variety over time. I might supplement with a herring oil for 4 to 6 weeks, then switch to a salmon oil and then an oil that contains a mixture of different fish oils. You might notice your pet does better on one fish source over another. Only one way to find out.
The downside of fish oils as a source of Omega 3’s
We all know that our waters are not as clean and free of pollutants as we would like them to be. As a result, toxins have been accumulating into our fish population and has the potential to show up in anything fish i.e., Fish meat, fish skin, fish oils, etc.
As a pet owner, this is the approach I take. First, I want to look at the quality and purity of the fish oil. We do our homework to only merchandise fish oils that we would feed to our own pets. Secondly, I rotate fish oils on a regular basis, so I am not supplementing salmon oil every day for prolonged periods of time, but offering a wide variety of Omega 3 sources over a prolonged period. I do also like herring oil, anchovies and sardines as part of my rotation.
There are always superior quality hemp oils that are also a particularly reliable source of Omega 3 fatty acids and can be used in an Omega 3 rotation as well.
One other downside to fish oils is that they can oxidize and rancid rather easily. The best way to minimize the chance of this happening is to pay attention to best before dates, store your oils in a dark and cool place and only purchase bottle sizes that can be used within a couple months. Definitely do not just buy the biggest size because it’s a savings, often the bigger sizes are only meant for multiple pet owners or large breeds. There are some fish oils packaged in pump containers that will minimize the oxidization process giving you extra time to use it up before it turns, like this ‘Stay Ever Fresh Pump’ from WellyTails.
My Simple Takeaway
If there was only one supplement that I could put into my pet’s bowl, it would be a reliable source of Omega 3 fatty acids. The benefits more than outweigh the negatives, especially with a properly maintained trusted source. It helps in so many ways. It is easy, it does not cost a lot and most of our pets love a good sniff of fish.