Omega-3s and Pet Food

Most dogs and cats in North America are deficient in the Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, no matter what they eat.

“But wait!” you say. “I’m buying them the very best food at the specialty shop, and it says right on the label, it’s got plenty of Omega-3s!”

Or, maybe you’re even saying, “Seriously? I make my pets’ food at home from organic meat…how can that possibly be deficient?”

Nevertheless, if you’re not supplementing with a marine-source Omega-3 oil, your pet is not getting enough of the fatty acids she needs most.

Commercial pet foods typically utilize leftovers and by-products of the human food industry. Some foods are certainly better than others, and to a large extent, you do get what you pay for. But the leftovers of the typical U.S. (and Canada) diet are still representative of that diet, and that means trouble in the fatty acid department. U.S.-made pet foods are sold around the world.

Most experts now agree that the “ideal” ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is about 5:1, though some go so far as to say 2:1 or even 1:1. The ratio found in the typical American diet is more like 20:1, or even 30:1. This creates a serious imbalance for both people and pets!

In the U.S. and Canada, which have large surpluses of grain, livestock and poultry are fed large amounts of corn. This shifts their natural Omega-3s to mostly Omega-6. The vast majority of plant-based oils, such as sunflower or other vegetable oils, are also exclusively Omega-6. (Flaxseed oil and canola oil both contain some Omega-3s, but no  EPA or DHA.) Pet foods that use animal fat or vegetable oils therefore contain large amounts of Omega-6s and virtually no Omega-3s, unless they are added.

This also means that, unless you are using exclusively grass-fed meat and pasture-raised poultry for your pet’s homemade food, there is still too much Omega-6 and very little, if any, Omega-3.

Some pet foods now list Omega fatty acids in their guaranteed analysis, but this may not be a true reflection of the actual content. Omega-6 is typically listed as a guaranteed minimum (meaning there may be, and probably is, much, much more of it in the food), while Omega-3 is probably present at the minimum level. Some companies manipulate their labels to create what looks like an “ideal” ratio of 5:1 or less, but the actual Omega-6 level is likely to be much higher.

Moreover, the main type of Omega-3 in pet foods is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which comes from plant sources, such as flaxseeds. Unfortunately, dogs and cats cannot convert enough ALA into EPA and DHA to satisfy their needs. They need a source of Omega-3s in which the ALA from plants has already been converted into EPA and DHA. Marine oils are the best source. And among marine oils, Moxxor green-lipped mussel oil is the purest, as well as the most potent, environmentally friendly, and sustainable.

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2 Responses to Omega-3s and Pet Food

  1. Val says:

    I would love to order your product but I read several articles which said that grape seed extract/oil is toxic to cats. Please advise.

    • adminjh says:

      We would love to read those articles, because they contradict the known science; if you have links, please let us know. Grape and raisin toxicity has been noted in dogs, but not cats; and what factor it is in the grape that causes problems is unknown. However, since seedless grapes have been associated with this toxicity, the seeds are clearly not the problem. Many studies have found no toxicity of grapeseed extract, even at very high doses. Please see: Grape and Raisin Toxicity

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