Like you, your dog needs a healthy balance of the right kinds of fats.
Otherwise, your dog may have to deal with a lifetime of chronic illness and disease.
But what your dog needs is different from what you need.
And that’s what I want to talk about today …
- Why your dog needs fat in his diet,
- Why he needs more omega 3s, and
- Healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
How Fat Helps Your Dog
Every day, your dog burns energy in the form of calories.
There are three main sources of energy for your dog …
Carbohydrates, while safe in small amounts, only provide energy. They don’t do anything else for your dog. And in large quantities … they can do more harm than good.
That’s why it’s best to serve up the energy your dog needs in the form of proteins and fats.
Proteins are the most important part of your dog’s diet. They not only provide energy … they play many critical roles in your dog’s body. Proteins form …
- Soft tissue
- Blood cells
Fats are the second most important part of your dog’s diet. They provide energy and they act as chemical messengers. They help …
- Form cell membranes
- Absorb fat-soluble vitamins
- Control hormones
- Regulate the inflammatory response
But you need to be sure the fats in your dog’s diet are the right kinds of fats.
The Types Of Fats Your Dog Needs
There are all sorts of fats in your dog’s body but when it comes to dietary fat, you want to look at triglycerides.
Triglycerides get stored in fat cells. They’re later released to give your dog energy between meals.
There are two main types of triglycerides …
- Unsaturated (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated)
You’ve probably heard that humans should steer clear of too much saturated fat. It can increase blood cholesterol ... and may raise the risk of heart disease and stroke.
This risk is less of a concern for dogs. Saturated fats don’t increase these risks in dogs the same way they do in humans.
Nonetheless, it’s still important to balance the amount of saturated and unsaturated fats in your dog’s diet.
Saturated and unsaturated fats are found in the whole foods you feed your dogs.
To balance these two fats, it’s a good idea to rotate ruminants (like beef, lamb, goat) with poultry (chicken, duck or turkey).
Unless you’re feeding grass-fed meats … ruminants have too much saturated fat and not enough unsaturated fats. Poultry has a lot of polyunsaturated fats.
Rotating between ruminants and poultry will create a more balanced foundation for your dog.
But balancing saturated and polyunsaturated fats isn’t the only problem.
You also want to balance the types of polyunsaturated fats in your dog’s diet.
Because when it comes to polyunsaturated fats … an imbalance can cause big problems for your dog.
Why You Need To Balance Polyunsaturated Fats
There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats …
Omega-6 produces hormones that increase the inflammatory response. They also help with blood clotting and cell growth. Omega-6 fatty acids include:
- Linoleic acid (LA) - found in hempseed, soybean, safflower, sunflower and corn oils
- Arachidonic acid (AA) - found in meat, poultry and eggs
Omega-3s work with omega-6s to control the immune system. Their anti-inflammatory properties balance out omega-6 fatty acids.
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) - found in flaxseed, chia seed, hempseed and walnut oils
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) - found in oily fish and organs like the brains and eyes
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - found in oily fish and organs like the brains and eyes
Balancing these two essential fatty acids is key.
If there’s too much omega-3, it can lead to immune dysfunction.
If there’s too much omega-6, your dog will have excess inflammation.
Inflammation is an important part of your dog’s immune response. It allows his body to send defenders in to attack bacteria and viruses.
But chronic long-term inflammation can lead to …
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Heart disease
- Arthritis and joint pains
- Liver and kidney disease
With today’s diets, dogs often have an excess of omega-6. And that’s where the problem starts …
Your job is to boost your dog’s omega-3 and balance out the omega-6 fatty acids.
How To Add Omega 3s Fatty Acids To Your Dog’s Diet
When dogs need an omega-3 boost, most pet owners will use fish oil. And it makes sense …
Fish oil is full of the Omega-3s your dog needs … specifically DHA and EPA.
Together, DHA and EPA give your dog many health benefits. These fatty acids …
- Promote a healthy brain and slow brain diseases
- Fight against inflammation
- Reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer
- Support eye development and good sight
- Boost probiotics to help them attach to intestinal cells
BUT fish oil has problems of its own.
- Fish oil can cause disease and premature aging
- It contains toxins like heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
- Oils from Pacific fish may contain radiation
- Fish oil is not sustainable and is killing the ocean
- Fish oil is very unstable and oxidizes every time air gets into the bottle.
Fortunately, there are other sources of DHA and EPA. Ones that are safer for your dog.
Green Lipped Mussels
Green lipped mussels have 90 different fatty acids. But they are richest in DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids.
These fats are found in oily fish like salmon, herring and sardines. But unlike the fish used in fish oil … green lipped mussels are grown and harvested in a way that’s sustainable and protects our oceans.
They’re also rich in vitamins and minerals.
And while fish are often fed corn diets high in omega-6, mussels eat phytoplankton. And phytoplankton contains omega-3.
And green lipped mussels are great for dogs with joint pain. They’re full of Eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA) … another fatty acid that controls inflammation.
One study compared fish oil to green lipped mussels (along with other sources of omega-3). Rast who received fish oil had a 31% decrease in arthritis scores. For green lipped mussels, the reduction was 42 - 75%.
In another study, dogs given green lipped mussels had less pain and better mobility. And almost 75% of the dogs didn't need pain meds.
And there were no adverse side effects in either study.
How To Feed Your Dog Green Lipped Mussel
Green lipped mussels come in powder and oil form. You can also get water based products but these will be missing the healthy fats.
Some manufacturers take out the omega-3 fats out of powder supplements as well.
So … when you shop for supplements with green-lipped mussel, be sure the fats weren’t removed.
To get this information you’ll want a nutritional analysis of the product. Look for a fat content of 6% or more.
If you give your dog powdered green lipped mussel, you want to give him 9 to 22 mg pounds of body weight. After 10 days, cut this amount in half.
Brains and Eyes
I mentioned before that DHA and EPA help with brain and eye health.
The interesting thing about organs is that when your dog eats them the nutrients in them benefit the same organ in your dog.
Eating heart helps his heart. Eating joints strengthens his joints. Liver boosts the liver.
Working backwards, that means that the eyes and brain that need EPA and DHA would also be rich in them.
And it’s true!
These organs are a great source of EPA and DHA. In fact 4 oz of brain has a gram of each. 1 tsp of fish oil has half that amount.
They’re also full of nutritious vitamins, minerals and antioxidants … especially vitamin D and the B vitamins.
If you feed your dog a whole raw diet, his food should be at least 10% organ meat.
You also want to give him the widest variety of organs you can. Every organ contains a different variety of nutrients.
This will help him get the most out of his food.
How To Feed Your Dog Brains and Eyes
If you shop at a local abattoir or butcher shop, ask about the brain and eyes and include them in your organ mix.
If you don’t feed raw or want a different alternative to fresh organs, consider a supplement.
Good supplements have freeze-dried brain that’s not cooked. That means they still have the healthy fats and nutrients your dog needs.
When it comes to your dog, a well-balanced diet is key to a long and happy life.
And this means you have to feed him foods rich in the nutrients he needs. Or you need to find a safe way to add them to his dish.
So, try one of these nutritious (and safer) alternatives to add Omega-3s to your dog’s diet.