Do you often hear about the importance of fatty acids in your pet’s diet, but are not sure exactly what they are or why they are important? Why do some dog foods include essential fatty acids in their formulas?
Like their human friends, dogs have specific nutritional needs. Among
the nutrients that dogs need are essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs cannot be manufactured by the dog’s body, so they must obtain it through their diet.
Fatty acids affect a number of body systems & conditions, some of which are:
- Allergy and autoimmune disorders
- Inflammatory conditions such as ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis
- Dull, dry coat and itchy, inflamed skin
- Yeast infections
- Eye health
- Heart health
Dogs need both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, and one cannot be converted into the other. Not only do they need both fatty acids, your dog needs the proper ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. The exact ratio hasn’t yet been determined, but most veterinarians believe the ratio is somewhere between 5:1 and 10:1 (omega 6:omega 3).
Using naturally sourced ingredients, high quality foods like Primal raw diets usually fall well within the recommended range. For Primal, Sunflower seed oil supplies the omega 6, and omega 3 is found in salmon oil, sardine oil and coconut oil.
Since omega 6 is found in most vegetable oils, and omega 3 is in fish oils, lower quality kibble, which contains mainly the cheaper and more stable vegetable oils, can often be out of balance. Tests have shown that in some brands, it can be as high as 50:1. What this means in simple terms, is 50 of the omegas that encourage inflamed, itchy, dry skin, to 1 of the omegas that decrease it.
You may also wonder about omega-9 fatty acids. These fatty acids are of no use to a dog’s health; in fact, increased amounts of omega-9’s can actually decrease the concentration of omega-3’s and 6’s in the blood and skin.
Fatty acids for dogs are not medicines and, when used in isolation, cannot cure diseases such as kidney failure or cancer. However, used in complement with other medication, they can facilitate speedier recovery and improved health conditions.
Content sourced from, Volume 1, Issue 10: Essential Fatty Acids, THE PRIMAL CONNECTION