Omega 3 and Omega 6 are not produced by the body and must be supplemented, that is why they are called essential acids. Most foods have low levels of nutrients and do not meet the required supplement amount for a dog during all levels of activity during the course of a year.
The omega 6 are found naturally in the diet in animal sources, such as chicken and pork. Smaller amounts are found in beef. Larger amounts are found in plant sources, such as olive, safflower and other plant oils. Omega 3 fatty acids are less common, found in fish oil, flax seed oil and marine sources, such as spirulina and blue green algae. Since this is naturally in the diet, it is not necessary to supplement this in addition to diet.
However, too much Omega 6 and not enough Omega 3 causes digestive problems. Omega 3 provides relief of dry, flaky, itchy skin. The best sources for omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish body oils, such as fish oil or salmon oil. Cod liver oil is quite different, as it is lower in omega 3 and very high in vitamins A and D. Fish oil has a readily available form of omega 3, called EPA and DHA. Plant based oils such as Flax Seed Oil contains ALA, which needs to be converted in the body to be of use. Most dogs are unable to do this conversion which results in high amounts of omega 6 from this source, but not much omega 3. A high omega 6 to omega 3 ratio promotes inflammation, poor coat, allergies and skin conditions.
“While flaxseeds or flaxseed oil is not harmful to pets and does supply some essential omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed oil is a source of alphalinoleic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that is ultimately converted to EPA and DHA. Many animals (probably including dogs) and some people cannot convert ALA to these other more active non-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, due to a deficiency of desaturase enzymes needed for the conversion. In one human study, flaxseed oil was ineffective in reducing symptoms or raising levels of EPA and DHA. Therefore, I do not recommend flaxseed oil as a fatty acid supplement for pets with atopic dermatitis (skin problems caused by environmental allergies). Instead, look for fish oil, which provides EPA and DHA.”(5) (Taken from www.b-naturals.com website).
Omega 3 oxidize rapidly and increase antioxidation requirements in the body (taken from whole dog food journal). Therefore, you must make sure you supplement Vitamin E separately with Omega 3’s if the supplements you are feeding do not have Vitamin E already in them.
LA – Omega 6 – Found in Corn, Soy, Canola, Sunflower, whole grains, poultry body fat
ALA – Omega 3 – Flaxseed Oil – Found in green leafy vegetables – difficult to metabolize, takes a long time.
GLA – Omega 6 – Borage Oil
EPA – Omega 3 (Skin and Coat)
DHA – Omega 3 (Skin and Coat) Cold Water Fish Oil, Cod Oil
Fish Oil – Omega 3
Flax Oil – Omega 3 – Plant based
Borage Oil – Omega 6
Cod Oil – Omega 3 – Fish Oil
Salmon Oil – Omega 3 – Wild Salmon Oil – Natural Source of Omega 3, Very easy to Digest
When dogs have allergies and the gastrointestinal tract is irritated and inflamed, this triggers the immune system which to degrade which repeats the cycle back to the digestive tract and lowers the healthy bacteria to aid digestion. Healing the gut is just as important to allergy treatment.
L-Glutamine is an amino acid essential to proper function and digestion of gastrointestinal tract. Supplementing helps support the healing process and restores healthy flora. Combine L-Glutamine with enzyme supplements (Enzyme Pro, Prozyme, B-Naturals etc) at a minimum will give you positive probiotics without having to add probiotics to the diet (L-Glutamine Vitamin 3x week).