We often talk about omegas and their benefits for the health of our pet, however do we really know the differences between them and their real impacts? Here is some key information which will help you to make an informed decision when buying food or health supplements for your furry friends.
This omega is certainly the best known. Omega-3 can come from vegetable (hemp oil, linseed oil, etc.) or from animal sources (seal oil, salmon oil, krill oil, etc.). When it comes from a vegetable source, it is called ALA (alpha linolenic acid). This acid will have to be converted in the digestive system of your animal in order to transform in EPA and DHA, the fatty acids found in fish. As the conversion rate of ALA is quite low, it is considered as a “weak” source of omega-3. Bio-availability and retro-conversion will be better with omega-3 coming from fish oil and even superior with seal oil! Sea oil is better absorbed by your animal because the mammal cell structure is something their bodies recognize immediately. The molecular structure of seal oil therefore allows better assimilation. Also, in addition to EPA and DHA, seal oil contains a third fatty acid (DPA) which will convert into EPA / DHA during the digestion process of your animal. This will enhance naturally the benefits of Omega-3’s.
Speaking of the benefits of Omega-3, what are they?
- Decrease in shedding
- Improved skin and coat
- Reduction of allergies and inflammation
- Better joint health
- Improved heart health
- Strengthening of the immune system in general
- Helps in growth, reproduction and brain development
For your pet, the ideal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio would be 4: 1. In today’s diet, whether you give your animal raw or dry food, it will be high in omega-6. Some company even have a ratio of 20:1 in their pet food. This is why, it is really necessary to prioritize the addition of omega-3 to your pet’s diet rather than an intake of omega-6. Too much omega-6 for your pet could lead to problems like inflammation or heart disease. To find out more: But why is there too much omega-6 in my pet’s diet?
Omega-9 is mainly found in plant oil and animal fat. It is not considered an essential fatty acid, since your pet is able build this fatty acid from unsaturated fats in its body and do not need specific food or supplements to produce it.
In conclusion the omega that you should prioritize is the omega-3, in order to restore the level of omega-3 vs. omega-6 ratio in your fury friend’s body and because they can easily produce omega-9.
Elizabeth Koutsos, Stacey Gelis, Michael Scott Echols, in Current Therapy in Avian Medicine and Surgery, Advancements in nutrition and nutritional therapy, 2016.
Dr. Michael Dym. Recommended Omega-3 and Omega-6 Ratio for Pets (2011) <https://blog.petmeds.com/ask-the-vet/omega-3-and-omega-6-acid-benefits-for-pets/>
Gregory L. Tilford. Essential Fatty Acids For Increased Canine Health (2001) <https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/food/essential-fatty-acids-for-increased-canine-health/>
Simopoulos AP. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56 (8):365-79.
Bjørkkjær et al. Short-term duodenal seal oil administration normalised n-6 to n-3 fatty acid ratio in rectal mucosa and ameliorated bodily pain in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Lipids in Health and Disease 2006, 5:6 doi:10.1186/1476-511X-5-6)
Brox J, Olaussen K, Osterud B, Elvevoll EO, Bjornstad E, Brattebog G, Iversen H: A long-term seal- and cod-liver-oil supplementation in hypercholesterolemic subjects. Lipids 2001, 36:7-13.
Brockerhoff H, Hoyle RJ, Hwang PC, Litchfield C: Positional Distribution of Fatty Acids in Depot Triglycerides of Aquatic Animals. Lipids 1968, 3:24-29.
Yoshida H, Kumamaru J, Mawatari M, Ikeda I, Imaizumi K, Tsuji H, Seto A: Lymphatic absorption of seal and fish oils and their effect on lipid metabolism and eicosanoid production in rats. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 1996, 60:1293-1298.
Evan J. H. Lewis, Peter W. Radonic, Thomas M. S. Wolever and Greg D. Wells. 21 days of mammalian omega-3 fatty acid supplementation improves aspects of neuromuscular function and performance in male athletes compared to olive oil placebo. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2015).
Toshie Kanayasu-Toyoda, Ikuo Morita, Sei-itsu Murota. Docosapentaenoic acid (22:5, n-3), an elongation metabolite of eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5, n-3), is a potent stimulator of endothelial cell migration on pretreatment in vitro. 54(5):319-25 (1996).
Sheppard, K.W., Cheatham, C.L. Omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid intake of children and older adults in the U.S.: dietary intake in comparison to current dietary recommendations and the Healthy Eating Index. Lipids Health Dis 17, 43 (2018) doi:10.1186/s12944-018-0693-9