Fatty Acids for Dogs

If there is anything that you cannot beat your doggos at, it has to be their electric looks. Everything they want is merely one or two eye rolls apart. After all, how can anyone have the heart to ignore these fur balls? If dogs have a heart of gold, who are you kidding if you haven't been knocked out by the luscious coat? Sadly, if you thought their beauty is any lower maintenance than yours, you have been so wrong all along. Time and tide spares none, everybody requires maintenance. Now that we have talked intensively about the whole saga of internal health; let’s shift a bit towards exterior charm.

“Not that they need, but anything for hoomans!!”

It is a fact well instilled that fats have equally been hazardous as it has been beneficial for a dog. Overweight is a major issue in dogs these days, according to Animal survey by the Association of Pet obesity prevention 56% of dogs were either overweight or obese in 2018.  An obese dog poses way more threat to the overall well being of a dog, than below average weight. Try and become a good judge of obesity by yourself, for you cannot run to a Vet everyday. As a thumb rule, if you can feel the rib cage of the dog evidently, then it is an underweight dog, whereas if you cannot feel it at all, it calls for obesity in the dog. So fatty acids are an extremely thin line to deal with. They are completely unavoidable, but you can not afford to go overboard with it too.

Fatty acids are a major source of energy; it provides 2.5x more energy than protein and carbohydrates. It safeguards the skin, fur coat and maintains the suppleness of the footpad. Fatty acids work in parallel with other nutrients to facilitate their movement in the body. Vitamin A, D, K and E transport in the body through fat-soluble vitamins through the intestine. Fats also add that oomph factor in terms of taste, to otherwise boring food.

Fatty acids can further be classified in the polyunsaturated fats; Omega 3 and Omega 6. They both work as an antagonist to each other. While Omega 6, that is easily available, induces inflammation in the body; Omega 3 curbs that inflammation. There are multiple derivatives to Omega 3 and 6; that are mentioned as follows.

There are only two ways to replenish the canine body’s need for these essential fatty acids. As a pet parent either you can rely on commercial sources, or natural sources.

Omega-6

Omega 6 fatty acids prepare the body for growth, reproduction, immune system, skin and coat health. It helps in building the cell structure and membrane. It provides the material factors to facilitate vision and learning abilities. Thus, fatty acids, specifically omega-6 becomes a must for puppies and lactating dogs.

Omega-6 can further be divided among Linoleic acid (LA), Gamma Linoleic acid (GLA) Arachidonic acid (AA) and Dihomo Gamma-linoleic acid (DGLA).

Omega-3

Karen Becker, a famous Dog Nutritionist suggests that Omega-3‘s have tremendous potential to positively impact your pet’s health.

They serve the purpose of good calories in the animal body. It decreases inflammation, if any, in the body and calms the dog of pain related to Arthritis and manages other chronic inflammatory disorders like colitis, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and allergic skin issues. Although there is a lot of criticism regarding feeding fats to senior dogs, due to the constant threat of obesity, these fatty acids are essential for their body. 

This fatty acid is highly suggested to lactating mother dogs and puppies, as it develops the brains and facilitates proper functioning of the brain cells. It also helps in building the retina of the dog, and immunes it against any diseases. All the essential activities like neural development, cardiovascular activities are fueled by Omega-3 fatty acids.

It also has therapeutic effects on a dog, and helps the dog with calming against mild anxiety and depression. It also manages stress and improves the mental and physical health of dogs.

Omega-3 is further divided among; Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) & Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

It is drawn from a diet rich in cold water fish and their oil.

Fishes like Salmon, Sardine, Anchovies, present a power pact meal for a dog for Omega-3 fatty acids. EPA and DHA are more or less used interchangeably.

Alpha-linoleic acid (ALA)

This is an indirect source of fatty acids, generally used to feed puppies and vegetarian dogs. It is derived naturally from flaxseed oil, canola, soy beans, navy/kidney beans, walnut oils, green leafy veggies.

These are some of the natural sources to fulfill the need for Essential Fatty Acids (EFA). Veterinarians and dog nutritionists are essentially inclined towards natural sources over supplements of these nutrients. But, in case of a lactating mother or disease prone dog, it is better to feed commercial supplements.

FISH OIL

Fish and fish oils have been the biggest source of good fatty acids in the canine-kingdom, as would have been evident by the natural sources of Omega-3 and 6. Fish oil is a long chain of Omega-3s (EPA & DHA), it is used to induce fat metabolism in the body.

COMMERCIAL DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS

Dietary supplements are tailor-made capsules, softgels, gelcaps, powder and liquids that are packed with a particular nutrient. It is majorly used to provide for nutrient deficiencies that can not be fulfilled by natural sources. Lactating mothers and small breed dogs are generally recommended for these supplements, as they already have very little space in their stomachs to suffice for all the nutrients.To make a learned choice among the aisles of options in the market, you need to pay attention to certain characteristics.

Oxidisation

Fatty acids are highly unstable and fragile, they can oxidise very quickly. They can be easily destroyed by heat, light and oxygen. So proper packing of oxygen-free form in soft gel capsules is necessary to ensure longevity and quality. Once you acquire the supplements it is prudent to refrigerate it at all times.

Although fatty acids present a lot of benefits to the dog’s body, excess of nothing is good. So as a thumb rule, you must feed 75-100mg/kg of Omega 3 to a dog as excess of it can lead to health issues like diarrhea and vomiting.

For omega-6, there is no minimum limit as it is already available in huge quantities in commercially manufactured dog foods, and excess of it can be hazardous, for it can lead to cancer too. So it is better that you do not put an extra effort to feed it to your dog, unless it is suggested by your veterinarian. To look for balance and nutritious recipes that can benefit your dog externally and internally, head over to the online pet store.

GLOSSARY

  1. Neural Development - The neural development is the process by which the nervous system with all its components come to existence.
  2. Cardiovascular - Relating to the circulatory system, which comprises the heart and blood vessels and carries nutrients and oxygen to the tissues of the body and removes carbon dioxide and other wastes from them.