Information from Douglas Knueven, DVM
Many skin disorders and other health problems of pets are caused by a lack of proper fats in the diet. The most important types are Omega 3s and Omega 6s. These essential fatty acids (EFAs) are unsaturated fatty acids that the body needs for health but cannot make on its own. EFAs must be obtained from food. The body needs EFAs to make and repair cell membranes. They also govern growth, vitality, mental state, oxygen transfer, hemoglobin production and control the movement of nutrients through cell membranes. The most important Omega-3 fatty acids for pets are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicsoapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Researchers believe that a five-to-one Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio is optimal. Many commercial pet foods may contain ratios of up to and above 50-to-1 which can lead to many chronic health disturbances. Animals tend to be more deficient in Omega 3s because they are more easily destroyed. It is important that these oils be cold processed and stored in light-resistant bottles to keep their nutritional value.
EFAs play a key role in both the pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory pathways. Lack of sufficient EFAs tends to manifest in the skin first. The skin is the first to lose oils and the last to get them. The deficiency can lead to dry, flaky, itchy skin. Another area of the body influenced by the dietary imbalance of EFAs is the joints; arthritis is merely an inflammation of the joints. Studies have shown that adding fish oil to the diet can reduce the stiffness, pain and inflammation associated with this debilitating disease. Supplementing fish oil in the diet can prevent or reduce the development of arthritis in the first place. Some animals have trouble absorbing oils in their diet. Adding digestive enzymes to the diet can increase absorption of EFAs by 200%.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in older cats and dogs. According to recent research, adding fish oil to the diet increases the survival time of cancer patients by 30%-50%. It also causes longer periods of remission for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and it counteracts the metabolic changes that cancer can cause, such as the characteristic wasting. The study concludes that “the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are probably the most important nutrients to consider for dogs with cancer.”
Five percent of the brain is made of DHA. If we do not provide the building materials, then the body cannot construct a normally functioning brain. A study showed that supplementing fish oil in the diets of pregnant females and their offspring doubles the learning ability of these puppies. Omega-3s have even been shown to improve attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders which may help “neurotic” breeds like Border Collies.
Puppies and Fish Oil:
In 2004, a study was released that explored the effect of dietary fish oil on canine intelligence. This study focused on the developing brain. Pregnant dogs and their whelped puppies were divided into two groups. The study group was fed the fish oil supplement while the control group was fed a dry diet. At nine weeks of age, the puppies performance index in the study group was double that of the control group.
Dosage of Grizzly Salmon Oil, the recommended oil to use per Dr. Kneuven
1,000 mg per 25-30 pounds (daily maintenance)
1,000 mg per 10 pounds (daily rehabilitation for sick dog)