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A Key to Senior Dog Vitality: Omega-3 and Omega-6 Explained.



fish oil capsules

Understanding Omega Fatty Acids for Senior Dogs:


With their anti-inflammatory properties and array of health benefits, omega fatty acids have emerged as essential nutrients for senior dogs facing common age-related challenges such as arthritis, cognitive decline, and skin conditions. By understanding the role these essential fats play in your senior dog’s overall health, you can empower yourself to make informed decisions when selecting the best diet for your frosty-face furry companion's needs. In this #lifewitholddogs blog post, we uncover the secrets behind omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and learn how they can support your aging pup’s vitality and longevity.


Benefits of Omega Fatty Acids for Senior Dogs:


Dogs need Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in their food because their bodies can't make them. Omega-6 fats like linoleic acid (LA), linolenic acid, and arachidonic acid (AA) are important for growth, reproduction, and making prostaglandins that help with healing. Omega-6s cause inflammation that tells the body to start healing when there's an injury. Omega-3 fats like -linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are needed for brain, eye, skin health, and reducing inflammation. Giving Omega-3s before and after surgery, after an injury, or for conditions like cancer, skin problems, or inflammatory bowel disease is recommended.


Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are important for the body because they help absorb vitamins and are part of cell membranes. Linoleic acid helps keep cell walls flexible and control the movement of molecules in and out of cells. These fatty acids also protect the skin, regulate inflammation, and support growth and development. DHA helps puppies' brains develop, while EPA is good for the heart and may help fight cancer.



German Shepherd with salmon

Sources: Where to Find Omega Fatty Acids:


  • Salmon: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA.

  • Sardines: Packed with heart-healthy omega-3s and low in mercury.

  • Mackerel: A fatty fish with high levels of omega-3s and vitamin D.

  • Trout: Contains omega-3 fatty acids and is a good source of protein.

  • Herring: High in both omega-3s and vitamin B12.

  • Anchovies: Tiny fish that are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and calcium.

  • Chia Seeds

  • Flaxseeds

  • Hemp Seeds

  • Walnuts

  • Purslane (a leafy green vegetable)

  • Algal oil


omega-3 rich foods

Recommended Amounts for Senior Dogs:


For senior dogs, providing a higher ratio of omega-3 fatty acids is generally recommended compared to omega-6.


A good guideline is to aim for a diet that contains around twice as much omega-3 as omega-6 for senior dogs. This can help maintain a healthy balance of these essential fatty acids and support the dog's immune system and cognitive function.


Something to keep in mind is that dog kibble usually has more omega-6 fats than omega-3 fats. This is because omega-6 fats are cheaper and easier to find. Dog parents should choose dog food with a good balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fats to keep their pets healthy, or be sure to add additional omega-3 to their senior dog's diet.


It's important to consult with a veterinarian before making any significant changes to your senior dog's diet, as individual needs may vary based on factors such as breed, size, and existing health conditions. Providing the recommended amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 for older dogs can contribute to their longevity and quality of life in their golden years.


Potential Side Effects of Omega Supplements


While omega supplements can offer numerous health benefits for older dogs, you need to be aware of potential side effects that may arise. One common issue is gastrointestinal upset, including symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting. These reactions might occur if the supplements are introduced too quickly or if the dosage is too high for the individual dog.


In some cases, omega supplements may interact with medications your senior dog is already taking. It's important to consult with your veterinarian before adding these supplements to their regimen, especially if your senior dog has pre-existing health conditions. Monitoring your dog closely for any changes in behavior or physical symptoms can help you quickly identify and address any potential side effects from omega supplementation.


Additional Factors to Keep in Mind:


Rancidity is a common concern when it comes to fish oil supplements. When fish oil becomes rancid, it develops a strong, unpleasant odor and taste due to the oxidation of its fatty acids. This not only affects the taste and smell of the supplement but also reduces its effectiveness, as rancid oils may contain harmful free radicals that can damage cells in the body.


To prevent rancidity in fish oil supplements, manufacturers often add antioxidants such as vitamin E to stabilize the product. However, improper storage or exposure to heat and light can still lead to oxidation over time. As consumers, it is important to check for signs of rancidity before consuming fish oil supplements by smelling and tasting them. Opting for high-quality supplements from reputable brands can also help mitigate the risk of consuming rancid oils and ensure you receive all the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids without any unwanted side effects.


Or opt for fresh, whole foods to provide omega-3 and skip the supplement altogether.


Take Away:


Incorporating omega fatty acids into your senior dog's diet can significantly improve his or her overall health and well-being. These essential nutrients play a crucial role in maintaining joint health, cognitive function, and a healthy coat. By providing senior dogs with the right balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, dog parents can help mitigate the effects of aging and ensure a better quality of life for their beloved companions. Consulting with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate dosage and form of supplementation is key in maximizing the benefits of omega fatty acids for senior dogs. Take proactive steps today to support your senior dog's health by including omega fatty acids in their daily routine.


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