Lew Olson's newly revised edition is filled with an abundance of new topics and information. Whether you are new to home feeding or a seasoned raw feeder, have a senior dog or a new puppy, a pregnant mom or a toy breed, this book presents all the information you need to make the best nutritional decisions for your dog.

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential Fatty Acids

By Lew Olson • March, 2004 Newsletter
Essential fatty acids are necessary components for the diet that help with healthy skin, hormone regulation, healthy fetal growth and development, reduced inflammation, and in some cases, they can also discourage tumor growth. They can also help to enhance the immune system. I will try to briefly explain the dynamics behind these fats and show a brief primer on how to use them most effectively.

The two main types of essential fatty acids are omega 6 fatty acids and omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids work together, so both types are needed in the diet. When this balance gets out of sync, neither will work as effectively. It is probably best to use these fats in a ratio of 1:1.

The biggest problem is that omega 6 fatty acids are found in most foods and retain their integrity under exposure to heat, light, and air, while omega 3 fatty acids are harder to find in foods and are fragile and easily deteriorate when exposed to the same conditions. Too much omega 6 can result in an increased inflammation response such as joint pain, skin problems, and reduced immune systems.
Omega 6 fatty acids are known as Linoleic Acid (La), which is found in vegetable oils, dairy products, meats and grains. Some of these convert to Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA). These in turn convert to Arachidonic Acid.
Omega 3 fatty acids found in vegetables oil and grains are known as Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA). These are converted in the body to Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA). In animal based fats containing omega 3 fatty acids, such as cold water fish body oil, it is already EPA with no conversion necessary. It is known that cats cannot convert ALA to EPA, and it is thought that some dogs may have problems with this conversion as well.
The synthesis of fatty acids results in the release of prostaglandins. This can be either helpful or worsen inflammatory response. Prostaglandins, released by EPA (or fish or salmon oil), are considered to be helpful in the decrease inflammation. Omega 6 releases two types, GLA and AA. GLA is helpful in reducing inflammation (a good source of GLA is Borage oil), but AA can increase inflammation.
Since omega 6 fatty acids are already high in most food sources, it is a good idea to supplement with an omega 3 fatty acid source. A good plant source is Flax Seed Oil. For animal sources, either fish or salmon oil are good choices. Do not confuse this with Cod Liver oil. Cod Liver oil is a source for vitamins A&D, but is NOT a good source for omega 3.
Research behind Omega 3 fatty acids show that they provide:
– Renal protection
– Support Brain Function
– Aid in Heart Health
– Help Support the Immune System
– Help Fetal Brain and Eye Development
– Fight inflammation
– Maintain Mood levels and Sense of Well Being
Omega 3 fatty acids are found to be beneficial for patients with cancer, as cancer cells cannot use this essential fatty acid for proliferation. It is also thought to help stop cancer cachexia (weight loss).
Omega 3 fatty acids will also help with a healthy coat and skin, help with hormone regulation and offer support for the internal organs, and enhance coat color. There is probably not any one supplement that can offer as much support or have as many advantages in one nutrient.
If you have a dog that is healthy and without special needs, Flax seed oil is a good way to add omega 3 fatty acids to their diet. A good dose is a tablespoon daily for large dogs, 1/2 tablespoon for medium sized dogs and a teaspoon for small dogs.
However, if you have a dog with special needs, such as kidney problems, heart disease, allergies, joint pain, cancer or autoimmune problems, I would recommend giving fish or salmon oil capsules. These are already converted to EPA from the ALA and contain no omega 6 fatty acids to compete with the omega 3. For dogs with special needs, give 1,000 mg (180 EPA and 120 DHA) per ten pounds of body weight daily. For healthy dogs the dose would be one capsule per 20 lbs of body weight daily.
Whenever supplementing with these oils, it is a good idea to also supplement with vitamin E, as these two nutrients work best together. The dose for vitamin E for large dogs is 400 IU, medium dogs 200 IU and small dogs 100 IU daily.
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