What are Essential Fatty Acids?
Essential fatty acids are “essential” because they cannot be synthesized by animals and they are important for healthy cells. Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are two essential fatty acids needed by pets and humans. Omega-6 fatty acids are needed for growth & reproduction. Omega-3 fatty acids are needed for proper brain and eye function. Both are needed for cell membrane fluidity and healthy skin.
Why are Fatty Acids Beneficial?
There are many diseases that fatty acid supplements help manage. Arthritis, heart disease, allergic skin disease, urinary disease in cats, and cancer are a few examples.
Heart disease affects 11% of dogs and up to 20% of cats. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements help maintain muscle mass and promote normal heart rhythms, two problems associated with heart disease.
Arthritis affects 20-25% of dogs over the age of 8 and 33% of adult cats. In senior cats the rate of arthritis increases to 90%. Arthritis is slow degeneration of joint cartilage and low-grade joint inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation helps to reduce the amount of inflammation present in the joints.
Allergic skin disease is common in both dogs and cats. Itching, skin redness, and skin infections can be signs of allergic skin disease. The cause is an abnormal skin barrier which allows allergens and microorganisms to penetrate the skin. Omega fatty acid supplementation improves the skin barrier and reduces inflammation which decreases the clinical signs of allergic skin disease.
It may take 1-3 months to see the full benefit of the supplement.
Are all Fatty Acid Supplements Equal?
No. Dogs and cats metabolize substances differently than humans. There are also different chemical formulations, amounts and sources of the fatty acids, and purification and quality control standards. In the US, the National Animal Supplement Council works with the FDA to establish and monitor safety and quality control standards for animal supplements. It is important to pick a product that has the NASC Seal when picking a fatty acid supplement. The products we offer at Arrowhead Veterinary Clinic are NASC approved.