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What You Should Know About Omega-3 Fatty Acids For Dogs

 Chris Cole 

Dogs, just like people, need a proper balance of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet to stay healthy. Most diets contain a high ratio of Omega-6s to Omega-3s, which can lead to chronic inflammation, a lack of energy, and an increased risk of developing certain diseases. Fortunately, it's easy to start adding Omega-3s to your dog's diet.

Best Sources Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids For Dogs

a dog catching a fish

Fresh fish is a good source of omega-3s, but may also contain mercury and parasites. Tinned fish and fish oil supplements are a safe substitute.The simplest way to add more Omega-3 fatty acids to your dog's diet each day is to feed a food that contains a supplement, such as Doggie Solutions Hypoallergenic White Fish and Rice Food. For senior dogs, you may want to try senior formula like Fromm Senior Gold Dog Food.Even in the most high quality kibbles, the fish oil will oxidize after the bag is opened, and it may start to break down and become less effective. To help counteract this effect, be sure to use up each bag of dog food within 2-4 weeks. If you buy big bags that last longer, you can store some of the food in a freezer to help keep it from breaking down, and to avoid letting the oils become rancid.You can also add fish or fish oil to your dog's meals as a fresh source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Not all fish oil supplements are alike, be sure to use a supplement that is formulated for dogs and contains vitamin E like Grizzly Salmon Oil. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant to help your dog's body fully derive the benefits of the Omega-3s.Whole fish sources of Omega-3s include cooked, boneless salmon or whitefish. Sardines can be served raw or tinned. Only feed tinned fish that is packed in water and does not contain added salt.

Omega-3s For Skin And Coat

Increasing the healthy fats in your dog's diet can lead to a noticeable improvement in the softness and shine of their coat. The Omega-3s in fish reduce inflammation that causes redness or itching in dogs with allergies, dry skin or hot spots.

Do Omega-3s Help Reduce Symptoms Of Arthritis?

Approximately 90 percent of dogs will develop arthritis in at least one joint if they live to an advanced age. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to prevent arthritis and relieve symptoms in dogs that have been diagnosed with it.Though Omega-3s do not slow the progression of arthritis, they have been shown to reduce the painful inflammation that makes the condition painful for your dog. It can take a few weeks for you to start to see improvements such as lessened joint stiffness and less pain getting up from a lying position.

Other Benefits Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids support healthy brain function and strengthen your dog's immune system, and help their wounds heal more quickly. It has even been shown to help reduce anxiety in pets with behavioural issues by 40 to 50 per cent.[caption id="attachment_2122" align="alignnone" width="500"]a scared dog
Fish oil can help reduce your dog's anxiety, especially when used alongside training and counter-conditioning.If your dog has a minor condition that does not improve with the addition of Omega-3 fatty acids, or if their condition worsens, see your veterinarian to rule out an underlying health issue.

Adverse Effects Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

When supplemented in excess, omega-3 fatty acids can actually be harmful to your dog. More specifically, the fats can cause gastrointestinal distress, usually vomiting and diarrhea, easily remedied by start with a 1/4 serving at first, then gradually increasing to a full serving so your pet's digestive system can adjust to the dietary change.Fish oil supplements are very high in calories, so you will need to reduce your dog's daily food intake or increase their activity level to avoid causing weight gain.When you feed a commercial diet that is already supplemented with fish oil, you will not need to give them a full dose. You may also decide to only give the supplement a few times per week. Coat quality, digestive health and overall well-being can indicate whether or not you are giving your dog an appropriate serving. You can also speak to your veterinarian about how much fish oil your dog needs each day.Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are naturally blood-thinning, which can cause negative interactions with certain medications, and you should not give them to your dog for a week leading up to surgery. Speak with your veterinarian before changing your dog's diet or adding supplements if they are already taking medication for an existing condition.
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