Fatty acids in the diet of dogs and cats
Fats are one of the basic nutrients that should be included in the diet of pets. One of the elements of this group are unsaturated fatty acids, and their main task is to maintain the proper structure of biological membranes. And although saturated acids are successfully produced by both the human and animal bodies, unsaturated acids must be supplied with food or in the form of supplements.
Unsaturated fatty acids come from plant or animal sources. There are two basic groups within them, i.e. omega-3 and omega-6 acids, which are described in detail later in the article.
See also: Feeding dogs and cats with dry and wet food
Omega-3 in the diet of dogs and cats
Generally speaking, there are two most popular and best-studied and described types of omega-3 fatty acids. These are, of course, acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic) i DHA (dokozaheksaenowy).
are mainly responsible for regulating fat metabolism. They are also able to control the release of DHA acids and, if necessary, effectively transform into them. EPA acids also contribute to the production of tissue hormones, thus influencing many different processes in the body. They also have anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic effects, and also limit the contractility of blood vessels, regulate blood pressure and stop the development of cancerous tumors. Thanks to them, it is also possible to maintain the proper functioning of the heart and the entire circulatory system. You can easily see that EPA acids play an extremely important role.
Kwasy DHA however, they perform structural functions, as they are the building blocks of cell membranes and nerves. DHA is particularly important in the context of the work and development of the brain, as well as the entire nervous system. Moreover, acids of this type are also of great importance for the development of the visual system, and at the same time they contribute to the production of serotonin and dopamine, known as “happiness hormones”.
Omega-6 in the diet of dogs and cats
Omega-6 fatty acids support the proper synthesis of the body’s cell membranes, while having a beneficial effect on the appearance and health of the skin and fur. The main source of acids of this type are vegetable oils, although it is also found in certain fats of animal origin.
Omega-6 fatty acids include primarily: linoleic acid (LA), as well as its derivatives, including γ-linolenic acid (GLA), dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA), or rumenic acid (CLA).
GLA supplementation is especially recommended for dogs struggling with skin allergies. However, it also has anti-inflammatory effects.
CLA, called rumenic acid or conjugated linoleic acid, is found in certain animal products (e.g. beef). It is often used in the fight against overweight and obesity because it improves metabolism and at the same time effectively helps reduce body fat and increase muscle mass.
Sources of fatty acids in the animal diet
As already mentioned, fatty acids play an extremely important role on many levels, thus contributing to the improvement of the functioning of the entire body. For this reason, it is definitely worth including them in the diet of every pet, using sources such as:
It is also worth noting that before deciding on the supplementation of individual nutrients, you should consult a veterinarian who will advise you on appropriate preparations, as well as recommended doses and frequency of serving.
EPA and DHA fatty acids and life stages of dogs and cats
EPA and DHA fatty acids are particularly important for pets in the early stages of development. They influence development and formation nervous system, brain and eyesight. Moreover, these acids are able to have a positive effect on the animal’s immune system and the proper functioning of its heart. However, their deficiencies may result in developmental disorders, which is why guardians of puppies and kittens should pay more attention to this.
Supplementation of unsaturated fatty acids is also often recommended for elderly animals and pets struggling with specific ailments, most often inflammatory ones. EPA and DHA are used simultaneously in sporting and working dogs, as they support the joints and heart.
Check: How to strengthen your dog’s immunity?
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements
Supplements with omega-3 fatty acids are most often available in the form of oil (e.g. salmon), although sometimes they take the form of capsules or powder. It is also worth noting that not every pet will be willing to swallow a capsule, which is why preparations that are easily added to daily meals and which the animal absorbs almost completely unnoticed are much more often chosen.
Before purchasing the selected supplement, consult a veterinarian who will advise you on the appropriate choice and dosage.
It is also crucial to pay attention to the fact that omega-3 acids are extremely sensitive to sunlight and heat, which is why it is recommended to store them in a shaded and cool place so that they do not lose their properties.
See: Fiber in a cat’s diet – does a cat need fiber?
Can you overdose on omega-3 fatty acids?
When omega-3 fatty acids are administered in amounts tailored to the individual characteristics of a given pet, overdose will be extremely difficult. This does not mean, however, that such situations do not occur.
An excess of these ingredients can lead to significant blood thinning and, consequently, intense bleeding in the case of even minor injuries. Moreover, an overdose of omega-3 fatty acids may contribute to an increase in “bad” cholesterol in the blood.
Therefore, it is crucial to supplement these ingredients in accordance with all recommendations, but also to consult your concerns or doubts with a specialist in the field of veterinary medicine or animal dietetics.
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