One of the biggest trends in the pet food industry these years is the fact that pet parents are increasingly looking for healthy foods with proactive ingredients. With this in mind, we foresee a rise in the interest of omega-3 as an ingredient in pet food, and with good reason.
Just like their pet parents, a dog's body is unable to make omega-3s and they need a food source that provides them with these essential fatty acids. Increasingly, studies are finding that omega-3s do not only have nutrients that can improve the health of pets but can also prevent various diseases and infections, thus prolonging the life of pets. Offering omega-3s in pet food can be seen as a competitive advantage for pet brands, as pets can highly benefit from these essential fatty acids.
A healthy balance between omega-3s and omega-6s
The National Research Council (NRC) recommends a ratio of 2.6:1 to 26:1 omega-6 to omega-3 for pets. Many dog diets are very rich in omega-6s, and thus it is important for pet owners to know the required omega-3 levels for their dogs, as well as the source that might be already included in their pet food. A description of the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s on pet food packaging can help pet parents make the right choices for their pets and decide whether additional omega-3 supplementation may be required.
What are the health benefits of omega-3s?
A healthy heart for a healthy life
Prolonging the life of your pet means preventing certain heart problems. Omega-3s can help achieve this by maintaining healthy blood pressure and decreasing triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels. Studies have shown that regular and sufficient consumption of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are essential for pets to maintain a healthy and well-functioning heart, therefore, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Joint and muscle health
Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties, which support joint and muscle health. Especially active dogs need a sufficient and regular intake of omega-3s to strengthen their muscles and joints, and to recover faster from heavy exercise.
Omega-3s may also help to prevent or alleviate symptoms of arthritis in pets. A 13-week study conducted by the University of Montreal’s Department of Veterinary Biomedicine found that dogs and cats who ate food with omega-3s had reduced symptoms and their walk improved. (Source)
Improved immune system
There’s no denying that dogs are curious souls who are constantly exposed to germs and bacteria around them, which makes them vulnerable to diseases. Omega-3s can help to strengthen their immune system so that they can continue to satisfy their curiosity.
Allergies and other infections can weaken the body and lead to an overactive immune system that can be extremely harmful to your pets’ health. Omega-3s may help prevent and fight against such reactions. It can also slow the growth of common yeast infections in dogs and cats.
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Hair, skin and nails
When it comes to the health and look of a dog's skin and coat, omega-3s have proven benefits, too. Poorly conditioned skin puts your dog or cat at risk for itching, irritation, skin allergies and bacterial infections. The fatty acids in omega-3s can help nourish dry skin and therefore reduce itchiness. It also helps your cats and dogs grow and maintain shiny, healthy, lush coats. (Source)
Omega-3s, an indispensable ingredient for pet food
When considering the number of health benefits that omega-3s offer to pets, more pet food products should include at least a minimum level of omega-3s in their recipe. Omega-3s can be obtained from different sources, however the most beneficial for pets remain to be omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), mainly sourced from marine ingredients.