Last week we talked about how important omega-3s are to your cat and dog. They’re one of two essential fatty acids your pet needs to keep their immune system functioning and to minimize inflammation.
Omega-3s can be added to your pet’s diet by buying a food that includes it in the formulation. Or you can give your pet a supplement. But this fatty acid is critical to good health.
The other essential fatty acid that both humans and their pets need is omega-6.
A lack of omega-6 can result in poor development in puppies, liver and kidney degeneration, poor wound healing, miscarriage, and sterility in males.
The good news is that omega-6 deficiency is rare because most commercial pet foods contain plenty of omega-6s. In fact, maybe more than your pet actually needs.
It’s found in many of the ingredients in their food; plant oils, grains, poultry, lean meat such as pork, and eggs. And because omega-6s are found in corn, any meat in your pet’s food that comes from animals that are fed corn will be high in omega-6s.
Meat from animals that are grass-fed or free range will be higher in omega-3s.
The Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio
What’s most important about the amount of omega-6s and omega-3s in your pet’s diet is the ratio between the two. Generally speaking the suggested ratio of 6s to 3s is 5:1 to 10:1.
You probably can’t reduce the omega-6s in your pet’s diet in order to improve the ratio. But you can increase the omega-3s by feeding a food that contains it or by giving your pet a supplement. This will bring the ratio down to where it should be.
The risks of a ratio that’s out of whack
Here’s why you have to be careful to keep the right balance between omega-6s and omega-3s.
Some omega-6s actually promote inflammation, which is necessary in the healing process. But if your pet is receiving too much 6 relative to 3, it can cause an imbalance between the pro- and anti-inflammatory agents in the body. This can exacerbate conditions brought on by inflammation like allergies and joint problems, to name a few.
But the right balance between omega-3s and omega-6s–that’s an elixir for good health, and can prevent:
- Dry flaky skin, hair loss, and a dull coat
- Immune system dysfunction
- Yeast infections
- Heart conditions
Therapeutic doses of omega-3s and 6s can be used to treat high cholesterol and triglycerides, behavioral problems, and even to slow the growth of some cancers.
For pets that have these types of chronic diseases, a supplement may be beneficial. But for most healthy pets, the additional cost and inconvenience of a supplement isn’t necessary.
Feed your dog or cat a super premium food like Husse that’s rich in essential fatty acids. And they’ll get the right balance between omega-6s and omega-3s to keep them healthy.
All this talk about essential fatty acids and omega-3s and 6s may have you wondering about omega-9. Do your pets need that too?
Omega-9 is not essential in humans, or our cats and dogs. This fatty acid is produced in our bodies in sufficient amounts to keep us healthy.
In all of my research on this subject, the only arguments I found in favor of giving our pets omega-9 came from the companies selling a supplement that contained it. Otherwise, most sources seem to suggest that it’s unnecessary to add omega-9 to your pet’s diet. The body produces what they need.
Do you give your dog or cat an omega-6 supplement? How about a supplement that contains omega-9? Let us know about your experience with these fatty acids in the comment section above.