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You might have heard that the correct amount of omega fatty acids can make for really healthy haircoat and skin. But do you know what they are? Do you know the ones that your pet needs? Do commercially sold foods have enough of them? Let’s take a look.Dietary fats can be divided into three categories:
- Oils – liquid lipids at room temperature
- Fats – solid lipids at room temperature
- Fatty acids – dietary fats with a specific chemical structure.
There are certain fatty acids that the body cannot make from other food sources. These are called essential fatty acids as you have to include them in the diet.
- Omega-3 acids – Eicosapentaenoic acid, alpha-linoleic acid as well as docosahexaenoic acid come under this bracket. Fish oils, particularly coldwater fish like salmon, halibut, herring and mackerel are rich in omega-3 acids. They can also be found in the oils of plants like flax. Soybeans, wheat germ and walnuts also carry significant amounts.
- Omega-6 acids – Linoleic acid, as well as arachidonic acid, come under this umbrella. It is usually found in sunflower, safflower, corn as well as Borage and evening primrose oils. Pork and poultry fat also have lot of omega-6 acids although you will not find it in butterfat or beef fat. Arachidonic acid is quite possible the most important essential acid for cats and is found exclusively in animal sources like fish oils, poultry fat and pork fat.
Most of the commercially found pet foods have plenty of omega-6 acids. Although omega-3 is harder to come by, the therapeutic effects of it are well recorded. If taken in the correct ration, these acids can help prevent:
- Dull, dry, itchy, brittle haircoat and skin
- Inflammatory processes
- Allergies and autoimmune diseases like IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), arthritis, asthma, ulcerative colitis and diabetes
- respond to omega-3s.
- Yeast infections
- Heart conditions and visual acuity might improve
- Omega-3s slow down the growth of certain cancers
- Fish oils lower the blood triglyceride and cholesterol level.
- A variety of mental ailments responds highly favorable to omega-3s.
If your pet is one a commercial diet, you can help him along with a daily dose of flax seed or fish oil to give him omega-3s. Unless the pet food explicitly cites the omega-3 content, you can add a tablespoon of flaxseed or fish oil per pound of their food. If you have any doubts about the dosage, contact the vet instead of blindly following your instinct. Remember that fresh oil sources are always better
. Keep them refrigerated as any kind of heat can diminish its bioactivity. The last thing you want to be doing is mixing rancid oil to your pet’s food. In some cases, vitamin E is added to the pet food to make sure that the fatty acids do not turn rancid.