Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of your dog’s diet. They are beneficial in helping to ward off disease, increase longevity and promote overall quality of life. But there are several factors you should consider when supplementing your buddy’s diet with Omega-3 fatty acids. Knowing the best age at which to begin supplementation is one of them.
When to Start Supplementing
As far as supplementation and dosage are concerned, they are typically determined by weight and breed instead of age. You can generally begin giving your puppy Omega-3 as soon as he’s properly weaned, usually by about 8 weeks of age. As with any dietary supplementation for your pets, though, it’s always highly important to seek the advice of a trained professional regarding dosage. Every dog’s needs and requirements are unique, and a qualified, experienced veterinarian will be the best person to provide guidance tailored to your dog’s specific needs.
Omega Fatty Acids Defined
Omega-3s are primarily made up of two major fatty acids known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These fatty acids are known as essential fatty acids (EFAs). They are considered “essential” because they are not produced in your pet’s body, and must be obtained through diet. Further, no discussion of Omega-3 supplementation is complete without also mentioning the importance of its synergistic relationship with Omega-6 fatty acids, which come from vegetable oils such as sunflower, safflower, soybean and corn.
Benefits of Supplementation
Supplementing with Omega-3 fatty acids is vital to your dog’s health because a lack of adequate Omega-3 in your dog’s diet could lead to dire health concerns. Omega-3 deficiency can manifest itself in a variety of symptoms including reproductive and cardiovascular problems, immunological and neurological issues, autoimmune disorders and chronic infections, itchy skin and shedding coat.
Sources of Omega-3s
It’s worth noting that although many manufactured foods advertise Omega-3 and 6, the high temperatures used in processing make most of these fatty acids unabsorbable in your pet’s digestive system. But since there’s usually far more Omega-6 than 3 in processed foods, it’s recommended to supplement with Omega-3, and to keep Omega-6 and 3 intakes in a ratio between 10:1 and 5:1 for optimal health. There are many natural sources of Omega-3s, such as salmon, sardines and anchovies, but these can be impractical to feed your dog because they would need to be eaten in too large a quantity to ensure he’s getting the recommended amount. The most practical solution is supplementation with fish body oils such as salmon, sardine or krill oil, with krill oil being the most biologically available form. Lastly, impurities and toxins in fish body oils are always a concern, so it is highly important to seek out the most purified forms of these oils.
- Mercola.com: Healthy Pets: Fail to Give Omega-3 Fats to Your Pets and You are Asking for Trouble
- YouTube.com: Essential Fatty Acids for Your Pets
- Mercola.com: Healthy Pets: Omega-3 Supplementation Highly Beneficial for Puppies, Study Shows
- Oregon State University: Micronutrient Information Center: Essential Fatty Acids
- ASPCA.org: Pet Care: Weaning
Jean Marie Bauhaus has been writing about a wide range of topics since 2000. Her articles have appeared on a number of popular websites, and she is also the author of two urban fantasy novels. She has a Bachelor of Science in social science from Rogers State University.