Omega-3 & Omega-6 For Dogs: What In The World Is The Difference?

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Have you ever been stumped when asked what the difference is between omega-3 and omega-6? We know we have.

In this article, we’ll be breaking it down for you so that you won’t need to whip out a search query on your phone the next time you come across this question.

 

The Burning Question: What is Omega-3 and Omega-6?
They are both a type of polyunsaturated fat and are considered essential fatty acids (EFAs) because your dog’s body is unable to produce on its own. The only way dogs can receive omega-3 and omega-6 is through the food that you feed them.

Omega-6 fatty acids include:

  • Arachidonic acid
  • Linoleic acid

Omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Alpha-linolenic acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are vital to brain development, help regulate blood pressure, and maintain immune system functions. In short, they are extremely important for your best friend.

Both fatty acids control hormones; however one of the fatty acids is responsible for triggering pro-inflammatory hormones within the immune system while the other dispenses anti-inflammatory hormones.

 

Who’s Responsible for What?

Omega-6 (Pro-inflammatory)
The inflammation response that is triggered by omega-6 fatty acids is not all that scary as it sounds. In fact, this response is crucial to your dog when she experiences heat, redness, swelling, pain, or loss of function as the inflammatory response will let the body know when to ‘activate’ the appropriate immunisation process such as bringing in white blood cells to fight off infections brought on by viruses, germs and attacking bacteria.

Omega-6 also helps to stimulate growth of your dog’s skin and fur, provides good bone health, and regulates its metabolism. A deficiency can result in issues such as flaky and itchy skin due to impeded skin repair capabilities.

Omega 3 (Anti-inflammatory)
The anti-inflammatory hormones produced by omega-3 fatty acids work in tandem with omega-6 fatty acids to offset inflammation.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been known to help prevent and treat various diseases and disorders brought on by increased levels of inflammation in the body such as heart and kidney disease, cancer, skin and coat conditions, arthritis, and cognitive dysfunction.

 

What’s A Healthy Ratio?
Okay folks, it’s time to commit these statistics to memory. Ideally, a healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is ideally 5:1 and nothing more than 10:1.

More often than not, the balance of omega-6 and omega-3 gets thrown off because of the type of food we feed our best friends – most of them are consuming too little omega 3’s and exceeding the normal intake of omega 6’s.

Highly processed dog food strips away the essential fatty acids in the kibbling process due to heat. Inferior ingredients are also guilty of contributing to sky-high levels of omega-6 which causes diseases and nasty skin conditions. In turn, manufacturers have to add synthesised and artificial chemicals at the final stage to balance the food.

Homemade diets and even raw diets can also have abnormal ratios that if left unbalanced, can cause irreparable damage to your best bud’s health.

 

Tell Me How I Can Correct This Imbalance, Pronto!
Adding omega 3-rich fresh ingredients like fish like sardine, mackerel, anchovy, and wild caught salmon to your dog’s diet daily can help bring back the much needed balance. Going to the market daily might not be possible for everyone, thankfully there are plenty of other options like omega-3 rich marine oil supplements for the time starved pet parent.

Our oceans are teeming with health giving life including wild Alaskan salmon and wild Antarctic krill that can benefit dogs greatly due to their high omega-3 levels.

Krill is a shrimplike crustacean that contains more EPA than fish oil (180 mg/g in regular fish oil vs 240 mg/g EPA in krill). Krill oil also has high levels of powerful antioxidants including Vitamin A and E, and natural occurring astaxanthin that come from the red pigments of krill.  Antioxidants like astaxanthin have been shown to aid in the elimination of harmful molecules called “free radicals”.

Not only that, there is no accumulation of heavy metals in krill, and it is also a highly sustainable food source which means that we’re able to love our dogs and the earth, all at the same time!

Another complete source of natural omega-3 fatty acids comes from wild Alaskan salmon. Wild Alaskan salmon that have spent their entire lives foraging on a natural, nutrient-rich diet.

The resulting oil contains a balanced blend of valuable omega-3 fatty acids, inherent antioxidants and traces of vitamins that naturally occur in the salmon, which will not interfere with your dog’s intake of vitamins from other sources.

 

References:
Advances In Nutrition: The Science of Fatty Acids and Inflammation
Dogs Naturally: Omega 3 For Dogs: The Ultimate Guide
Healthy Pets: Mercola: Fail to Give Omega-3 Fats to Your Pets and You are Asking for Trouble
Healthy Pets: Mercola: Ignore the Bad Rap… This Helps Heal Many Pet Disorders