Omega 3 for dogs: Why it's important

Omega-3 for dogs
Learn about dogs

Omega-3 is a vital part of your dog’s diet, but not every dog’s dinner contains enough of this nutrient to keep your pooch happy and healthy. 

You might already know that omega-3 is great food for the brain and amazingly beneficial for people with arthritis, and it turns out this fantastic fatty acid has similar benefits for our furry friends.

In this guide we’re going to share why omega-3 for dogs is so important, what makes it so good for Fido, and how much omega-3 dogs need in their daily meals.

What is omega-3 for dogs?

Omega-3 is what’s known as a “polyunsaturated essential fatty acid”. It’s a vital nutrient your dog needs to stay healthy, and it’s especially good for their brain, skin, fur, and heart.

Because it’s an “essential” fatty acid, your dog needs it to survive but their body can’t produce it, so all omega-3 for dogs must come from what they eat.

If you’re into your fitness or clean eating, you might already know that polyunsaturated fat is a good kind of fat. They’re great for general health and could actually help your dog to stay in shape.

Omega-3 for dogs is the same omega-3 that we humans need in our own diets. But just because it’s the same nutrient doesn’t mean you can give your pooch one of your own supplements. Human supplements are formulated for human use, so the nutrients they provide are unbalanced for canine health and could even be harmful. 

Why are omega-3 fatty acids for dogs important?

It’s brilliant for brain health

Firstly, omega-3 is brain food. It’s shown to help puppy’s cognitive development, making them brighter, learn faster, and help improve their memory. These all help your puppy to grow healthily and learn about the world around them, and it helps to make training easier.

These benefits don’t stop at puppyhood though, plenty of omega-3 means your adult dog will be bright as a button and more likely to respond to training. It’s also been proven that omega-3 can help to prevent the cognitive decline that happens with age, helping to keep your old dog switched on and prevent memory loss.

Omega-3 for dogs

It’s an amazing anti-inflammatory

Omega-3 is a powerful, natural anti-inflammatory. It’s been proven in several studies that omega-3 can be a huge benefit for dogs with arthritis, improving their mobility and reducing discomfort. 

Although hip dysplasia is not an inflammatory disease, fatty acids like omega-3 still seem to help improve the mobility and comfort of dogs with the condition too.

But it isn’t just sore bones and achy joints it helps, omega-3 for dogs helps to manage other inflammatory conditions, including allergies.

It helps grow healthy skin and shiny fur

Another key benefit of omega-3 is that it can help to manage skin conditions such as dermatitis by reducing inflammation and improving wound healing.

Omega-3 fatty acids for dogs also improve the condition of their coat, making their fur super soft and shiny.

It helps to keep their heart healthy

Omega-3 fatty acids for dogs are a superfood for the heart. They help to reduce triglycerides (a kind of fat) in blood, lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and lower the risk of arrhythmias.

It’s an important part of their diet

As well the health benefits omega-3 provides for dogs, it’s simply a vital part of their daily diet. Fats are the second most important part of your dog’s diet after protein and most of their energy comes from fat, not carbs. Polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 are “good fats”, which provide energy whilst contributing to their overall health.

How much omega-3 does a dog need?

Typically, dogs need a daily dose of between 75/100mg of omega-3 per kilogram of bodyweight. 

However, the amount of omega-3 your dog needs to stay healthy can vary according to their individual needs. Generally, little dogs need less omega-3 than big dogs, but puppies can need more than adult dogs.

Medical conditions also change how much omega-3 your dog needs. For example, dogs with heart disease require higher levels of omega-3 in their diet and dogs with inflammatory conditions like arthritis also benefit from having more omega-3 in their food. In cases where a vet prescribes additional omega-3, a dog could need between 50 to 220mg of omega-3 kg per kilogram of body weight every day.

Even though it is a fatty acid, eating more omega-3 doesn’t mean your dog will become fat or overweight. They need this essential nutrient to stay healthy and it can even help to keep them at a healthy weight.

In terms of preventing weight gain, it’s much more important that you make sure your dog’s calories and meal portions are right for your dog’s size and activity levels. Pure Pet Food is tailored to your dog so their nutrient levels will be worked out for you, and we’ll tell you exactly how much your dog should be eating to stay in shape.

So, if omega-3 is super healthy and good for your dog, why not just give them supplements? Well, too much omega-3 can cause gastrointestinal problems and diarrhoea

Like everything in your dog’s diet, it needs to be balanced. The easiest way to make sure your dog is getting enough omega-3 is to find a healthy dog food that carefully balances the nutrients to meet your dog’s needs.

How can I provide omega-3 for dogs?

As we said, don’t give your dog human supplements. Additionally, some dog foods marked as “complete” might not have the ideal levels of omega-3 fatty acids for dogs because harsh processing, including extrusion used to make kibble, has been proven to destroy nutrients. Fatty acids like omega-3 and omega-6, and amino acids, are especially vulnerable to heat and harsh processing and could be lacking in your dog’s kibble or canned food.

That being said, most processed dog food has an imbalance of fatty acids because of the ingredients used. Because kibble needs a lot of cereal and starch to create the dough, they tend to have plenty of omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3. The problem is your dog needs omega-3 to balance out omega-6 and having too much of one without the other can have a detrimental impact on your dog’s health.

Why omega-3 is important for dogs

Minimally processed food has a better balance of these nutrients as they haven’t endured high pressures or high temperatures that would otherwise destroy them. Plus, the ingredients are chosen for their nutrients and health benefits for your dog, not because they enable the manufacturer to make a certain type of food.

How to avoid ultra-processed dog food

A natural diet or a raw diet are good options for a minimally processed dog food. However, raw diets aren’t suitable for all dogs and require a lot of prep work and clean-up. And unless you’ve formulated your dog’s diet alongside a vet or canine nutritionist, your pooch might not be getting enough omega-3 unless they’re chowing down on oily fish with all their meals.

Raw food often uses a lot of uncooked meat, which is a source of essential fatty acids. However, even unprocessed, whole meat still has imbalanced levels of omega-3 and omega-6. That’s because farm animals are largely fed on grains, which have a ton of omega-6 but less omega-3. Since you are what you eat, the animals eating these foods then have more omega-6 than omega-3, and if your dog eats the meat of those animals they will also… You get the idea!

Natural food like Pure offers an alternative, providing minimally processed, natural food for your dog that has been tailored to have the perfect nutritional balance for your canine’s dietary needs. We use omega-3 in all our recipes, balancing those essential fatty acids and making sure your dog’s dinner keeps your pup healthy, their brain bright, and their fur soft and shiny.

What foods contain omega-3?

There are loads of foods that naturally contain omega-3 which your dog could eat as a snack or treat. Eating tasty treats will add a little omega-3 to your dog’s diet, but it won’t provide everything they need so you should still find a healthy dog food that provides all the omega-3 your pooch needs to be happy and healthy.

Foods full of omega-3 include:

Fresh, oily fish is the best source of omega-3. Oily fish includes salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies, pilchards, sprats, mackerel, and herring. Other fish like tuna or cod still have some omega-3 in them, but not as much as oily fish.

Nuts and seeds contain omega-3, but they aren’t always safe for dogs to eat. 

Green leafy vegetables like cabbage and kale contain omega-3 plus tons of other nutrients. They provide a lot of great health benefits for your dog, but again they don’t have as much omega-3 as oily fish.

Finally, eggs are like a natural multivitamin for dogs, with plenty of protein, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.

Pure Pet Food recipes are made using whole foods like fresh fish, eggs, and green garden veg to create a naturally healthy and tasty dinner for your dog with all the nutrients they need. There’s no harsh processing either, so the goodness in those great ingredients isn’t destroyed by those extreme temperatures!

Recap

Omega-3 is an essential part of your dog’s diet, but they might not be getting enough of it. Check out the ingredients of your dog food to find out what’s inside. If you think it’s time for a change, why not try Pure, honest natural dog food tailored to your pet’s needs and designed to keep them happy and healthy for longer.

Sources
  1. Evaluation of the effects of omega-3 fatty acid-containing diets on the inflammatory stage of wound healing in dogs. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 59, (7), July 1998, 859-863, PMID: 9659552
  2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Boxer Dogs with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 21, (2), Feb 2008, 265-273, doi.org/10.1111/j.1939-1676.2007.tb02959.x

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