Why Do Dogs Need Essential Fatty Acids?

Why Do Dogs Need Essential Fatty Acids? Why Do Dogs Need Essential Fatty Acids?
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I often hear of the importance of fatty acids in my pet’s diet, but I’m still not exactly sure what they are or why they are important. Why does Primal include essential fatty acids in their formulas?”

Like their human friends, dogs and cats have specific nutritional needs. Among the many key nutrients dogs need are essential fatty acids (EFAs). EFAs cannot be manufactured by the dog’s body, so they must obtain it through their diet. Dogs require both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to sustain optimal health.

It’s also important that pets ingest a proper ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The exact ratio hasn’t yet been determined, but most veterinarians believe the ratio is somewhere between 5:1 and 10:1 (omega-6 to omega-3). Comprised of naturally sourced, wholesome ingredients, Primal raw diets all fall well within the recommended range. In our complete, balanced formulas, sunflower seed oil supplies omega-6, and salmon oil, sardine oil and coconut oil supply omega-3.

Since omega-6 is found in most vegetable oils, and omega-3 is in fish oils, kibble — which contains mainly the cheaper and more stable vegetable oils — is very often out of balance when it comes to EFAs. Tests have shown that in some brands, levels can be as high as 50:1. In simple terms, the food contains 50 of the omegas that encourage inflamed, itchy, dry skin, to just 1 of the omegas that decrease those symptoms.

Fatty acids may improve a number of body systems and conditions, including:

  • Allergy and autoimmune disorders
  • Arthritis 
  • Inflammatory conditions such as ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis
  • Dull, dry coat
  • Itchy, inflamed skin
  • Yeast infections
  • Eye health
  • Heart health

And what about Omega-9 fatty acids? These fatty acids are of no use to a dog’s health. In fact, increased amounts of Omega-9s can actually decrease the concentration of Omega-3s and 6s in the blood and skin.

While EFAs are an essential piece of a balanced diet for dogs, it’s important to note that they are not medicines and — when used in isolation — cannot cure diseases such as kidney failure or cancer. However, when used as a complement to other vet-recommended medication, EFAs can facilitate a speedier recovery and improved health conditions.