dog health

How Omega-3 Helps Dogs

How Omega-3 Helps Dogs

Just like you, your dog needs a specific ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids in their diet. Omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in:

  • Skin and coat health
  • Cognitive support and brain development
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Joint support
  • Immune function

An imbalance of omega-6 to omega-3 has been linked to low-grade inflammation that can increase the likelihood of developing obesity, cancer, diabetes, or other health issues. Current AAFCO standards call for the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio to be less than 30 to 1. For comparison, we humans only need somewhere between 10 to 1 and 5 to 1. The ratio is not a hard rule but a general guideline for individual dogs, which is why your dog might need their diet supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids.

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Depending on their source, omega-3 fatty acids contain:

  • Alpha-lineolic acid (ALA): Found in flaxseed and canola oil
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): Found in deboned fish and fish oil
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Found in deboned fish, fish oil, and algae-derived oil

  • While your dog needs all three, DHA is considered especially crucial. It’s absolutely vital for vision and brain development in young puppies and can delay the effect of cognitive aging in senior dogs

    Fish oil is one of the most common and easiest ways to add omega-3 fatty acids to your dog’s diet. Deley Naturals Fish Oil for Dogs derives its oil from small, non-predatory fish sourced from the North Atlantic, reducing the chances of mercury contamination. After that, the fish oil is molecularly distilled to remove harmful toxins and heavy metals so that you can give it to your dog with peace of mind.

    What are the benefits of adding omega-3 fatty acids?

    Your dog’s body does not naturally produce omega-3 fatty acids and must obtain it through diet or supplementation. Although they can technically convert ALA into EPA and DHA, this is an inefficient method overall, and it’s better to add sources of EPA and DHA directly into their diet instead.

    EPA and DHA also reduce inflammation, protect the joints, and support the immune system. As your dog ages, the cartilage between their joints naturally begins to deteriorate, resulting in canine osteoarthritis. Adding omega-3 fatty acids can help keep your dog fit and mobile, especially when used in conjunction with a hip and joint supplement.

    If your dog is dealing with illness, adding omega-3 fatty acids into their diet can be beneficial. The amount of EPA and DHA in commercial dog food is generally adequate for the average dog, but few contain enough to support the treatment of disease.

    Omega-6 fatty acids are found in processed foods and grains which makes up the base of most commercial dog foods. This isn’t a bad thing–omega-6 fatty acids have their own role to play in your dog’s skin and coat health, immune system, and growth–but does explain why your dog most likely does not need extra omega-6 the way they do omega-3.

    Do omega-3 fatty acids have side effects?

    There can, in fact, be too much of a good thing. It’s all about the ratio–too much omega-3 reduces the efficacy of omega-6, and vice versa. Side effects can include:

    • Diarrhea
    • Fishy breath odor 
    • Vomiting 
    • Sleepiness 
    • Oily coat or skin flakes

    When you’re trying to figure out the correct dosage, talk to your vet. These side effects go away on their own if you lower the dosage. To reduce the risk of experiencing them, start your dog on a quarter of the target dosage and increase slowly while monitoring for changes.

    While not a direct side effect, weight gain is not uncommon either, especially if you choose to supplement with fish oil. Fundamentally, it’s pure fat, aka high calorie. Increase dosage slowly and encourage your dog to move more…or cut down on any unnecessary treats.

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