Omega 3 and 6 in the dog’s diet
Unsaturated fatty acids from the n-3 (commonly omega-3) and n-6 (omega-6) families are essential because the organism of dogs (and other mammals) cannot produce them by itself. They must therefore be included in the diet and are called essential unsaturated fatty acids (EFA).
The fatty acids delivered with the food undergo numerous changes. For example, linoleic acid, belonging to the n-6 family, may produce other fatty acids of this family, just as α-linolenic acid of the n-3 family can produce its derivatives. This is why we call these acids the precursors of their families.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids of the n-6 family
Natural sources of linoleic acid are vegetable oils, such as sunflower and rapeseed oil. Common evening primrose or borage oils are a source of γ-linolenic acid, also belonging to the n-6 family. Arachidonic acid is also synthesised from linoleic acid in dogs’ organism.
Linoleic acid and arachidonic acid act as a “skin sealant,” thus constituting a barrier against excessive water loss. They accelerate skin regeneration, wound healing, epidermis renewal. Deficiency of these fatty acids causes excessive peeling of the epidermis and increased reaction to allergens.
The symptoms of deficiency disappear when the fatty acids of the n-6 family are included in the diet. You can also enrich your dog’s diet with these fatty acids when preparing for shows or during the moulting period, e.g. with Flawitol Omega 6 skin and coat.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids of the n-3 family
The starting compound for polyunsaturated fatty acids of the n-3 series is α-linolenic acid (ALA). Its natural source is marine fish oil and linseed oil. α-linolenic acid is used to produce eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and its oxygen derivative – docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are the most biologically active of the n-3 family polyunsaturated fatty acids.
They are a component for the formation of eicosanoids – molecules influencing anti-inflammatory processes in the body. A large amount of DHAs has been observed in some areas of the brain, retina, myocardium. Both acids – EPA and DHA are necessary for the proper development of the foetus. EPA and DHA are used in skin and joint inflammation.
Old dogs suffer from arthritis. To reduce joint pain and aversion to movement, it is worthwhile to enrich the diet of senior dogs with EPA and DHA and the so-called glucosaminoglycans, i.e. substances facilitating the regeneration of joint cartilage, present in Flawitol Omega Artro.
HA and EPA also play an important role in maintaining normal functions in aging animals. They affect proper vision and help older dogs with impaired cognitive functions because nervous connections contain large amounts of DHA. A helpful preparation for elderly dogs can be Flawitol Omega 3 with lecithin.
The addition of fish oil to the diet of bitches during pregnancy and lactation and puppies in the first weeks after separation from the mother has a beneficial effect on the memory and concentration of the puppies. This is of great importance in shaping cognitive functions and reduces the risk of behavioural disorders, including aggressive behaviour in adult life.
It is worth noting that there is a difference between fish liver oil, which is fat extracted from fish liver, and fish oil (e.g. salmon oil), which is extracted from fish muscles. When serving ready-made, balanced food in portions, do not use fish liver oil, as it contains large amounts of vitamins A and D, the excess of which may cause hypervitaminosis. A safer solution in this situation is to use fish oil.
When using EFA, it is very important to maintain an appropriate ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 acids, preferably not more than 5:1
Most dogs like the smell of fish. Addition of a preparation based on fish oil, e.g. Flawitol Omega Super Taste to dry food increases its attractiveness. It may be a good way to encourage a picky dog to eat.
It is worth remembering, however, that a dietary supplement, such as fat, significantly increases the energy density of a meal. Remember to use the preparation according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Otherwise, you can quickly lead your pet to obesity.
Finished foods and preparations containing EFA contain added antioxidants (antioxidants), such as vitamin C or E, because they are quite easily oxidised, which leads to the formation of fatty acid peroxides toxic to the organism.
Remember to store the preparations in the fridge after opening and to use them within 3 months, and to close the packages of ready-made foods tightly to protect them from oxygen.