What Omega 3 supplement to feed your dog?

I have so many clients confused as to what Omega 3 supplement to give their pets. So I tried to summarise it for you in an email. In the end it is your choice but I hope this email will provide you with the information you need to make that educated choice.

Omega 3 is known for it anti-inflammatory properties and has become a common daily supplements for people and pets suffering from arthritis, dementia and skin problems.

There are many different sources of Omega 3’s. The two Omega 3 fatty acids that have the properties we are looking for are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Oils of plant origin such as flaxseed oil, canola oil, Chia seed oil contain a fatty acid called Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) . ALA needs to be converted to EPA and then DHA. The problem is that dogs are not efficient at converting ALA to DHA and will only be able to convert about 20% of their intake. So although you can give plant based oils to pets they may not be able to get the most out of them. You would need to give such high doses to get the same results as other omega 3 sources.

Fish oils e.g Salmon oil, krill oil contain EPA and DHA and so no conversion is required.
According to Dr Ken Tudor excess fish oil supplements can result in interference of certain body functions such blood clotting, wound healing and the immune system (Read more here)
The colorado state university has published a fish oils dosage chart giving pet owners the amount of fish oils that are safe for their pets. (Click here to access the dosing chart). This chart will prevent you from feeding dosages which could results in potential side effects.

Some other problems with fish oils are that they can have high levels of mercury and they can be very unstable. When they are exposed to oxygen they start to oxidise and become rancid. This can happen at any time from the time the oil is extracted from the fish, to the time that you open the fish oil bottle. When the oil oxides it goes rancid.

If your pet consumes rancid fish oil this will challenge the bodies antioxidant defence system. Your pet will need to use its own antioxidants to neutralise the oxidised component of the rancid oils depleting its natural defence system. (Pubmed ref)

So how do you now if fish oils are rancid? Well by taste and smell. Rancid oils smell and taste very fishy, a bit like rotting fish. It should have a mild fresh taste. You can taste the oil and break open the capsule depending what form they are in.

Interestingly Krill oil contains an antioxidant called astaxanthin, which helps to prevent it from going rancid. Astaxathin is a red pigmented antioxidant. It is produced by a micro algae called Haematococcus pluvialis and is also what gives salmon its pink colour.
It is a very powerful antioxidant and has many health benefits including protecting the cells in the body from oxidative damage and inflammation.Algae and phytoplankton have other beneficial effects on the body. Click here to read the benefits of feeding phytoplankton to dogs

Where do Fish get their Omega 3’s from?
Market Biosciences corporations senior scientist Mr Lippmeier says they manufacture DHA from algae which is where fish get their DHA. The algae are eaten by smaller marine life which are eaten by larger fish and the DHA gets passed up the food chain.

Some of you might be thinking “what about coconut oil” It has health benefits but it is not a source of Omega 3 (click here for an article on fish oil vs coconut oil)

So what supplement do you feed?
Plant based oils? fish oils? phytoplankton?

Some special Veterinary joint diets have Omega 3 incorporated into the food. This is an easiest way of giving omega 3. If you are giving omega of plant origin you need to be aware that your dog will probably not be able to utilize this form of fatty acid and you may not see the best results. If you are giving fish oils make sure you are feeding the correct amount and from a good source. Also make sure the supplement is not rancid.

Dr Deva Khalsa author of the Dr Khalsas Natural dog suggests feeding the following regime for Omega 3 supplementation.
Crushed chia seeds: 1 teaspoon (small dogs) to 1 table- spoon (large dogs) per day
Walnut Oil: 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon a day, according to your dog’s size as above
Quality fish oil supplement or algae oil supplement: twice per week. If using a pet product, dose as instructed on the container. If using a human product, assume it’s for a 150 lb human and adjust for your dog’s weight.
click here to read more

I hope this is food for thought

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