What Are the Benefits of Omega-6 for Dogs?

by Ledan Seja
    Chances are, your favorite pooch is OK on omega-6 fatty acids.

    Chances are, your favorite pooch is OK on omega-6 fatty acids.

    brian goodman/iStock/Getty Images

    Omega-6 fatty acids are essential to your pet's diet, along with omega-3 fatty acids. They're essential because your pooch can't manufacture them on her own, meaning they need to be added to her diet. Omega-6 fatty acids have a number of benefits. In general, most dogs get enough of them with their regular diets. Omega-3 fatty acids are what many dogs lack.

    Omega-6 vs Omega-3 Fatty Acids

    While dogs require both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, they require a ratio of between 10 and five omega-6s to one omega-3. Omega-6 fatty acids are prevalent in poultry and many vegetable oils used in commercial dog foods. Evening primrose, borage and black currant seed oils are also sources of omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are derived from fish and fish oil or walnut oil. If your dog food packaging states the food contains omega fatty acids, see which ones are included, but beware: Some of the omega fatty acids are listed by their individual names or abbreviations, such as DHA for docosahesaenoic acid.

    Skin and Coat

    An omega-6 deficiency can cause problems. Lineolic acid, a common omega-6, increases the skin's permeability. Lacking omega-6 fatty acids, her coat will become dull and brittle, making her hair break and possibly fall out. She may become prone to certain infections or become insatiably itchy.

    Reproduction

    Omega-6 fatty acids play a pivotal role in the reproduction health of both male and female pups. An omega-6 deficiency could lead to miscarriage in a female dog. Male dogs aren't immune to reproduction issues caused by omega-6 deficiency, either. Sterility can be the result of too little omega-6 fatty acids in his diet.

    Growth and Immune System

    In the unlikely event that your pooch isn't getting enough omega-6 fatty acids in his diet, you may notice that he has poor overall development, including lack of weight gain. Too few omega-6 fatty acids may also lead to liver and kidney degeneration, something that can make her very sick. The immune system also relies heavily on the proper amount of omega-6s: Your pup may not be able to heal after a wound and may show other signs of immune system deficiencies.

    Considerations

    Because most dogs get more than enough omega-6 fatty acids from their food, adding a supplement may not be a great thing. Omega-6 fatty acids, when given in high amounts, can cause inflammation instead of reducing it. The proper ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids should also be observed. In general, more pets require an omega-3 fatty acid supplement, such as krill oil, than an omega-6 supplement.

    Photo Credits

    • brian goodman/iStock/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Ledan Seja has been writing since 2009, specializing in natural ecosystems, gardening and landscape design, the environment, wildlife, insects, pet rescue and childcare. Her work has appeared in various online publications.

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