Health | 1 Min Read

What are omega fatty acids and why does your dog need them?

By now you’ve no doubt heard about omega fatty acids and how vital they are for humans. But what about your beloved pooch?

Ensuring our dogs are happy and healthy is of huge importance for any pet parent. But with our dogs (as yet) unable to tell us how they’re feeling, we sometimes feel in the dark about whether they’re receiving the right nutrients. And with so much information out there, it’s difficult to keep up with the latest science in pet nutrition.

Fatty basics:

Just like us, dogs need fat. And no we’re not referring to the naughty saturated fats otherwise known as junk food. We’re talking essential fatty acids (EFAs), macronutrients that are critical to your dog’s health. 

Omega fatty acids are divided into two groups: essential fatty acids (EFAs) and non-essential fatty acids (NEFAs). EFAs, like Omega 3 and 6, must come from food sources, while NEFAs can be made by the body. 

The what and where:

Alright so Omega 3s and 6s are vital for your dog’s health. But what exactly are they and where are they found?

Omega 3s
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): found in fish, fish oils and seafood sources such as oysters and mussels
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): found in eggs, walnuts and flaxseed oils, canola oils and algae such as spirulina
Omega 6s
  • Linoleic acid (LA): found in animal meats and plant-based oils such as corn, safflower or soybean oils

What’s the function of Omega fatty acids?

These dietary super-fats provide an excellent source of energy in addition to allowing your dog to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Omega fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory functions throughout various organs. They are also an important part of cell membrane function, so they help maintain the integrity of cells in your dog’s body.

Omega 3 fatty acids play a vital role in joint, skin, heart, kidney, neurological and gastrointestinal health. DHA is particularly beneficial for brain function and cognitive ability by improving learning ability and memory retention.

Omega 6 fatty acids are important for maintaining the normal skin barrier.

Is your dog getting enough

So what’s the correct ratio for your dog? Well that depends on a variety of factors such as age, weight, pre-existing conditions etc. 

The ratio of omega 3s to omega 6s is important because it can influence your dog’s health and behaviour. Dogs that are fed a complete and balanced dog food that is tailored to their lifestyle and life stage will most likely be getting the right balance of omega 3:6.  

Dogs with unbalanced diets and those that have particular health conditions may benefit from omega 3 or omega 6 supplementation - your vet will advise you whether or not this is indicated.