Essential nutrients are those that the body cannot make itself, and must be consumed in the diet. For instance, dogs can manufacture Vitamins A and C, but they must get Vitamin D from their food. Certain fats, called essential fatty acids, are also important, but the food your dog is eating is unlikely to have the right balance. Why not? There are two reasons:
- The current nutritional standards for pet food are 20 years old, have not kept up with science, and don’t recognize—or require—essential fatty acids.
- Livestock and poultry are fed large amounts of grain. This converts their natural Omega-3s to Omega-6s. Consequently, pet food made from them is loaded with essential Omega-6 fatty acids, but lacking in the important Omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA).
Omega-3s are a vital part of the membrane of every cell in the body. Research in humans and animals has shown that inadequate intake of Omega-3s is linked to many serious health conditions, such as allergies, skin diseases, obesity, cancer, insulin resistance, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, behavioral issues (aggression), and cognitive dysfunction (senility).
Omega-6s are metabolized into pro-inflammatory compounds. But Omega-3s make powerful antioxidants that prevent or reduce inflammation (a major factor in many disorders) and boost the immune system. They also help our pets defend against age-related degenerative diseases. Studies have shown that Omega-3s are specifically beneficial for dogs with arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer.
There are several sources of Omega-3s, but dogs cannot efficiently convert plant-based Omega-3s (such as flaxseed oil) into the precise forms their bodies need: EPA and DHA. Giving your dog a marine-based Omega-3 oil is the best way to supplement these essential fatty acids. Here’s what you need to know to pick the best products:
- Salmon are top-level predators; so environmental contaminants become concentrated in their fat. Most salmon products today are from factory-farmed fish, which are raised in polluted pens and fed fungicides, dyes, and antibiotics; diseases and parasites that thrive in fish farms are also threatening wild stocks. Even “wild” and “wild-caught” Alaska salmon may actually have been born and raised in hatcheries and then released into the ocean; and new FDA rules may even allow genetically modified fish.
- Cod liver oil is a great source of DHA and EPA, but most manufacturers add additional Vitamins A and D, which can reach toxic levels in small dogs.
- Purity of the oil is critically important. Fish may be contaminated with mercury, dioxins, PCBs, and more. Never buy an oil that has not passed independent testing to ensure that it is free of contaminants.
- Freshness is also imperative. Omega-3s degrade quickly. Choose an oil that is processed right at the source.
- New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussels are a clean, sustainable, ideal source of Omega-3 fatty acids for dogs.
By adding Omega-3 fatty acids to your dog’s diet, you’re making up for what virtually all dog foods (even raw and homemade) lack. Within just a few weeks, you’ll notice improvements in skin, coat, and energy—but the enhancement of health on the inside is even more important! Omega 3s will help your dog live a longer, healthier, and happier life.