Omega 3 fatty acids are chains of carbon molecules linked with single or double bonds. An essential fatty acid is one that must be supplied in the diet because it cannot be manufactured by the body. Although Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are both incorpororated into cell membranes, it is important to supplement with Omega 3 fatty acids to lessen the development of inflammation in your pet's body by not activating these membranes. Many pets have health problems caused by too much inflammation in the body, so most pets benefit from supplements with higher concentrations of Omega 3 fatty acids. Examples of Omega 3 fatty acids include ALA (alpha linoleic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
Most pet foods and pet treats are manufactured to have a high quantity of Omega 6 fatty acids and contain much less Omega 3 fatty acids because of the cost involved in manufacturing pet food. It is believed that an approximate ratio of 5:1 of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids is essential in promoting health and maintaining homeostasis in your pet's body. Therefore, it is important to supplement most pets on commercial pet food with quality Omega 3/fish oil supplements, which can easily be added to your pet's food bowl or given in a small amount of a treat. Benefits include the following:
Giving your pet a fish oil supplement can help reduce inflammation and thus lessens the intensity of most types of allergies, including flea bite allergies, inhalant/contact allergies, and/or food allergies. Omega 3 fatty acids also help lessen dry skin and dander, and many forms of skin scaling disorders. Use of Omega 3 fatty acid supplements also allows pet owners to use lower doses of cortisone and antibiotics when managing many of these skin conditions. Note that it often takes 3-4 months to see maximal benefits of Omega 3 fatty acid supplements in both the skin and rest of your pet's body. Recommended supplements include Super Pure Omega 3, Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet, and The Missing Link formulas.
Senior pets often have weaker immune systems and are much more prone to inflammation and infection. Therefore supplementation with Omega 3 fatty acids often benefits these pets. Due to the role of inflammation in many degenerative brain diseases, fish oil and Omega 3 supplements can help lessen and even reverse brain inflammation in many senior pets.
Inflammation plays a role in many diseases, including arthritis, kidney disease, brain disease, and heart disease. Autoimmune diseases are also common in these organs. Supplementing with Omega 3 helps effectively reduce autoimmune responses and inflammation. Fatty acids also help promote circulation in these various organs. However, pet guardians should first check with their veterinarians regarding senior pets, because occasional drug/supplement interactions may occur. Since Omega 3 fatty acids may slightly decrease blood clotting in elder pets, these interactions are especially important to be aware of in pets on prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) for pain. In these cases, periodic blood work may be needed to check for any pre-existing medical conditions before using Omega 3 fatty acid supplements in pets on NSAIDs.