Pet parents are always on the lookout for new things to give their pets to make them happier and healthier. Lately, supplements have been a point of focus in the pet health community. One type of supplement in particular, omega-3 fatty acids, is very popular because of its many health benefits. Both dogs and cats can benefit from taking additional omega-3s.
Omega-3 fatty acids are present in many natural foods, particularly in cold-water fish and fish oils. However, many pet food sources lack or do not offer sufficient quantities of omega-3s, and instead have too many omega-6 fatty acids. A balance between the two groups is necessary for optimal health.
Most omega-3 supplements contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are polyunsaturated fats that make up essential fatty acids. These compounds can have a myriad of benefits related to your pet’s health, skin, coat and overall happiness. Your pets are unable to make these types of essential fatty acids on their own. Thus, a supplement is an excellent way to provide these essential nutrients to your dog or cat.
If you’re on the fence about omega-3 fatty acids, check out some of the many pet health benefits provided by omega-3 fatty acids.
- Skin discomfort relief: Itchy, dry, flaky, inflamed or red skin, as well as excessive shedding or dull coats, can be caused by a number of underlying problems including fleas, allergies, ticks, weather, nutritional deficiencies and more. Omega-3 fatty acids can help relieve the discomfort caused by these skin problems by moisturizing the skin and reducing inflammation. This is particularly helpful for pets experiencing hot spots, fleas or allergies, as supplementing can reduce the urge to itch and protect your pet’s skin. Omega-3s can also help improve the look and feel of your pet’s skin and coat, making it shiny and soft.
- Reduced joint inflammation: Omega-3 fatty acids are great natural anti-inflammatories, making them an excellent choice of supplement for pets with joint problems like osteoarthritis. By reducing the inflammation in the joints, omega-3 fatty acids can improve your pet’s comfort, flexibility and ability to move without pain.
- Cardiovascular health: Vets often recommend an omega-3 fatty acid supplement for cats and dogs experiencing cardiovascular health issues (as well as for those that have not yet developed these issues). This is because the fats are known to support healthy heart function by reducing inflammation.
- Immunity: Because omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties, they can also help support your pet’s immunity. This is important year-round, but particularly during times when your pet is potentially exposed to infections or diseases (such as during a trip to the kennel). A robust immune system is necessary to fight off foreign invaders and keep your pet healthy.
- Cognition and memory: Another benefit of omega-3 fatty acids is their ability to support your pet’s cognition and memory, both as a puppy or kitten and as a senior pet. Experts believe DHA can help improve mental development in young pets, as well as the development of the nervous system and vision. Omega-3 fatty acids may also help prevent cognitive decline in senior pets because they can reduce inflammation of the brain, which often plays a role in cognitive disorders.
Remember to never give your pet omega-3 fatty acid supplements designed for humans; only use supplements formulated specifically for cats and dogs. You should also avoid giving your pet too much omega-3, because overdosing can lead to gastrointestinal upset and potential blood clotting issues.