We are going to look at a comparative analysis here to understand exactly how these fatty acids act in the DOG'S body and weigh the pros and cons of all options.
Types of Omega Fatty acids - Essential Fatty acids: there are 3. Omega 3, Omega 6, Omega 9.
Here we will be looking into Omega 3 & 6.
Omega 6 -
Omega 6 is an essential fatty acid, this means that our body needs to consume it via food sources and the body does not make this on its own. This type of fatty acid is called PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids) Being essential also means that the dog’s body requires it for several important functions to be carried out.
It stimulates skin and hair growth, bone development, proper functioning of the reproductive system, lowering of LDL (bad cholesterol) and increasing of HDL (good cholesterol), it helps regulate metabolism.
Omega 6 types of fatty acids are used to create Proinflammatory eicosanoids which are important chemicals in the immune system. However, when too many of them are produced, they can increase inflammation and inflammatory diseases.
In light of this, the problem with Omega 6 is that our dogs already consume a very large amount of this fat in their diet naturally. As the various types of Omegas are present in food sources in different ratios, but are typically higher in Omega 6.
For eg. Chicken, Meat, Dairy, tofu, Sunflower oil, Corn are pretty high in Omega 6. Their 6:3 oil rations lean heavily in favor of Omega 6. Just to put it into perspective - chicken has a whooping 28 units of Omega 6 for every 1 unit of Omega 3!!
So dogs on a Kibble diet / Chicken diet / Grain-fed meat diet - should avoid any supplementation of this fatty acid. They really do not need any more of it.
Omega 3 -
There are types of Omega 3 fatty acids that most people are not aware of, and humans as well as dogs need these and process these Omega 3’s differently. Plenty of manufacturers will take advantage of the fact that as pet parents we don't always know these details. In an effort to enable you to choose better products, here is a quick overview.
The 3 most common ones we will focus on today are:
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): This 20-carbon fatty acid's main function is to produce chemicals called eicosanoids, which help reduce inflammation.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): A 22-carbon fatty acid, DHA makes up about 8% of brain weight and is extremely important for normal brain development and function.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): This 18-carbon fatty acid can be converted into EPA and DHA, although the process is not very efficient in humans, and this ability is almost NON-EXISTENT in dogs. ALA is mainly used by the body for energy and not for anti-inflammatory action by dogs. This is important when we discuss various sources of Omega 3 later.