Omega-6 and omega-3 science
These fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats, which again are called “essential fatty acids”. Do not mix these with “essential amino acids”. Essential fatty acids mean that the dog’s body cannot produce them by itself and therefore dietary supplementation of omega fatty acids is essential part in dog nutrition. On this page we provide you detailed information about both omega-3 as well omega-6 essential fatty acids.
There are two main types of omega 3 essential fatty acids, long-chain and short-chain fatty acids. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are EPA and DHA. Short-chain omega-3 fatty acids are called ALA. Some sources have both long-chain and short-chain fatty acids and some have only short-chain fatty acids, which can convert to long-chain fatty acids. Plant-based Omega-3 sources like flax, hemp and chia seeds have a high concentration of ALA.
OMEGA-3 conversion: ALA -> EPA -> DHA
Alpha-lipoic acid or ALA is a naturally occurring compound that’s made in the dog’s body. ALA has vital functions at the cellular level and in energy production. When there’s an excess of ALA in your dog’s diet, ALA does not bind to protein and create energy anymore, instead it starts to act as an antioxidant. ALA is a powerful antioxidant which protects against cell damage that occurs in the body all the time. With an ideal diet, the dog should get sufficient ALA, but the reality is that dog foods are not balanced and nutritious enough to support this process. Therefore, supplementing ALA is recommended.
EPA and DHA
Proven benefits of EPA and DHA include:
- Improving the coat and skin, making it more shiny and healthy.
- Reducing inflammation in joints and other tissues in conditions such as arthritis in dogs, allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Regulating the overall immune system, boosting a dogs own immune which again helps against allergies and autoimmune disease.
- Aiding in the brain development of puppies and improving cognitive functions in senior dogs.
- Lowering blood pressure and triglycerides.
- Promoting weight loss in overweight dogs.
Omega 6 essential fatty acids play an important role in cell growth, and is thus essential for brain and muscle development. Omega-6 fatty acid is found mostly in plant based oils. Omega 6 oils contain LA (Linoleic Acid), AA (Arachidonic Acid) and GLA (Gamma Linoleic Acid). The first stage of conversion is LA (linoleic acid), the dog’s body converts linoleic acid to GLA and then to AA (arachidonic acid).
The LA (linoleic acid) plays a critical role in the production of hormones. LA triggers immune responses, reduces fluid accumulation and impacts a dogs mood and combats against multiple sclerosis.
The GLA (Gamma Linoleic Acid) is An Anti-Inflammatory Essential Fat and may help reduce high blood pressure and other arterial issues. GLA has an important role in modulating inflammation throughout the body of the dog.
The AA (arachidonic acid) has the biggest impact on brain development of dogs.
Omega-6 conversion: LA -> GLA -> AA
Symptoms of omega-6 deficiency
- Coat issues, loss of hair, thin or greasy hair
- Dry, scaly, flaky skin
- Behavioral changes
- Growth retardation in puppies
- Dry Eyes
- Irregular heart beats