By Dr. Becker
Now there's another reason (as if you really needed one) to insure your pet is getting the proper amount of omega-3 fatty acids in his diet. Recent studies on both people and dogs indicate that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may help with weight loss.
Obesity in pets has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., so this new information is certainly timely.
Studies Show Omega-3 Supplementation Increases Weight Loss and Feelings of Satiety
It's a well-known fact that omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA reduce inflammation throughout the body. They also reduce the effect of inflammatory enzymes produced by body fat, which is apparently how they may help promote weight loss.
According to PetMD, over the last five years, human obesity-related studies have confirmed that calorie-restricted diets supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids result in greater weight loss than calorie-restricted diets without supplemental omega-3's. One study of voluntary reduction of food intake even suggests that omega-3 fatty acids have a satiating effect. The weight loss effect in children was seen with just 300 mg of DHA and 40 mg of EPA.
There was also a study done on Beagles published a few years ago in the Journal of Internal Veterinary Medicine. The dogs fed calorie-restricted diets lost more weight when omega-3 fatty acids were supplemented.
This is Cal the Beagle, one of Dr. Becker's patients.
Cal was a rescue dog who arrived at his new home obese and depressed.
His proactive owner transitioned him to a raw food diet naturally rich in omega-3's.
Cal slimmed down on his own. He's lost 10 pounds!
There are Different Sources for Omega-3's – Which is Best for Pets?
Studies have proved the kind of DHA and EPA found in fish body oil is more beneficial than the oils provided by nuts or flaxseed. Fish body oils provide greater tissue levels of essential fatty acids than oils from other sources.
All oils contain about the same number of calories per tablespoon, but in order to get the same benefit from non-fish body oils, you would have to feed much more to your pet, significantly increasing the amount of calories you're feeding.
It's also important to note that dogs and cats can't convert omega-3 vegetable sources into DHA (one of the omega-3 fatty acids).
Fish body oils are therefore much more efficient for supplementing purposes. Krill oil is the supplement I recommend to insure your dog or cat is getting enough omega-3 fats in his diet. Other sources include salmon oil, tuna oil, and anchovy oil.
It's important to note that fish body oils are not fish liver oils. Fish liver oils are very rich in essential fatty acids, but they are also very high in vitamin D. Your pet has a much lower requirement for vitamin D than you do, and an overdose can result in urinary stones and mineralization and calcification of tissues and organs.
Other Health Benefits of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids
The omega-3 fats are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaneoic acid (EPA). The omega-6's are arachidonic acid (AA), dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA), gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and linolenic acid (LA).
Both types of fats are important in your pet's diet, and so is the ratio of the two. The subject is still being debated, but current recommendations are for ratios of from 10:1 to 5:1 (omega-6 to omega-3).
Omega-6 deficiencies are rare in today's dogs and cats because commercial pet food formulas actually provide too much rather than too little of these fats.
Omega-3 fatty acids are not only vulnerable to damage from heat, they are also very sensitive to oxygen. The omega-3's lose their bioavailability during the extreme processing methods used to produce commercial pet food. A deficiency of omega-3 fats in your pet can result in stunted growth, eye problems, excessively flakey skin, muscle weakness and lack of motor coordination, as well as immune system dysfunction.
Some of the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include:
- Decreases inflammation throughout the body. Adding them into the diets of all pets -- particularly dogs and cats struggling with seasonal environmental allergies – is very beneficial.
- Reduces the inflammation associated with arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis) and other diseases -- such as ulcerative colitis and IBD -- that also produce inflammation.
- Slows the growth of common yeast infections.
- Aids proper development of the retina and visual cortex.
- Prevents certain heart problems.
- Maintains healthy blood pressure; decreases triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels.
- Regulates blood-clotting activity.
- Slows the development and spread of certain pet cancers.
How Much Krill Oil Should I Give My Pet?
As always, it's important to seek the advice of your holistic veterinarian to determine how to best supplement your dog's or cat's diet with the fatty acids she needs for good health and to treat any specific health conditions she may have.
Animals consuming a raw food diet rich in naturally occurring omega 3's do not need significant supplementation, whereas pets consuming an entirely dry food diet need a high amount of omega 3's added to their food. Aging pets with more inflammation or degenerative diseases require a higher level of EFA's than younger pets with no systemic signs of inflammation.
Thankfully, Mercola Healthy Pets is releasing krill oil for pets in a new airtight, liquid pump shortly, so the days of cutting capsules are almost behind us!