Studies that focused on the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on pets found that there are many healthy benefits in including these nutrients in our pet’s diet. These health effects were studied using various omega-3 sources such as vegetable oils like flaxseed, canola and soybean oil and fish oils. Some of the benefits include good visual development in the puppy stage, cardiovascular and dermatological benefits and reducing of cholesterol levels.
It has been observed that deficiency in omega-3 can cause growth retardation, dermatitis, reproductive impairment and poor wound healing in dogs. Here we will have a brief look at whether home made pet food, is omega 3 adequate.
Usual Pet food sources and Omega 3
Most of us love our pets and want what is good for them. This includes playing with them, exercising them and feeding them a healthy diet. Feeding a pet a proper diet can be a challenge since we may not exactly know what is nutritious for them. An area that is often ignored is omega-3. These nutrients are essential to maintain optimum good health for your pet and give them a happy and healthy lifestyle.
There are three basic categories of pet food that are used for dogs and cats:
- Commercial pet food
- Raw pet food
- Home made pet food
Pet owners can make their choice based on requirements of the pets. Whatever the option they choose, it is important that the food is safe, healthy and free from any kind of pathogens found in foods. The food must also provide a balanced meal for your pet in the right proportion. Many pet owners opt to buy commercial pet foods since these contain all the require nutrients, vitamins and minerals your pet requires. Most top pet food manufacturers employ nutritionists who ensure the food that is prepared is balanced, healthy and tasty.
An emerging concern is if pet foods are omega 3 adequate, whether they are home made pet foods or store-bought foods. The focus is especially on long-chain omega-3 fatty acids – docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). It has been established that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for various stages of a pet’s development – puppy, growing and geriatric. They are especially critical for the neural development at the puppy stage.
Originally, it was thought that omega-6 fatty acids were sufficient to provide overall health benefits to pets. However, emerging studies of dogs and cats have found that omega-3 is also essential for optimal health. Most pet foods, even homemade ones, are not found to be omega 3 adequate. The right amount and type of omega-3 in diet, can contribute many health benefits. Many diets from stores state that they are rich in omega-3 – remember that it is mostly ALA that is included in the diet like – various vegetable oils such as canola, flaxseed, and soybean -, flax meals, etc. So, if you are used to preparing home made pet food, ensure that it also contains rich sources of EPA and DHA like fish, meat, poultry, eggs etc.
The National Research Council in 2006 made some dietary recommenedations for dogs and cats with special emphasis on omega-3. When making home made pet foods, make sure they are omega 3 adequate and also have enough of all other vitamins, proteins, fats and carbohydrates that your pet requires. Always remember that your pets rely on you to provide them good, healthy food. Keep this in mind and ensure you give them what is needed for their proper growth, optimal health and a happy and long life.