One of the most common directives we see on social media is to add omega 3 fatty acids to the dog’s diet. Without a doubt omega 3s play important roles but adding them whether through fish and/or fish oils, krill or other marine oils and vegetarian options like chia seeds, flaxseed meal et al, putting all the focus on omega 3 addresses only part of the story. This is especially true when skin issues crop up. Here’s why.
Both omega 3 and omega 6 are essential fatty acids which means the body can’t produce them, so they need to come from food sources. Together they:
- Form the membrane of every cell in the body
- Make up a large part of the structural and functional tissue in the brain
- Control the way cholesterol works
- Become prostaglandins which play key roles in regulating the digestive, cardiovascular, immune and reproductive functions of the body
- Have vital roles in the functions of the brain, inflammation and healing, and body heat
A well-intentioned directive to add fish oil may be made with the assumption that the diet is omega 6 dominant. That’s not always the case. Commercial diets that have been formulated to meet AAFCO have omega 6 to 3 ratios that are all over the map. Some are 10:1 (could be good candidates for an addition of omega 3, but that also depends on the treats/snacks being fed) while others are 2:1 in which case the dog is unlikely to need more omega 3 and making that addition can cause an imbalance.
Our experience with fresh food diets are that ratios anywhere between 5:1 and 1:1 work well. Treats being fed matter because they slant the actual intake. Fish skin treats would not be ok for the dog eating a diet providing 1:1 ratio. That diet would probably be fine with the addition of meat treats instead.
To arrive at a good ratio of omegas we sometimes add organic sunflower oil because it provides a good source of omega 6 fatty acids. Not all sunflower oils are created equal in their n6 content and/or purity. We use this brand https://www.iherb.com/pr/Flora-Certified-Organic-Sunflower-Oil-17-fl-oz-500-ml/3071 Feel free to use this code AHL4357 to receive 10% off if you’ve never placed an order with iherb before.
We appreciate that some people prefer to use whole foods rather than supplements such as oils and we’re all for it, so we encourage you to consider the bigger picture. To use sunflower seeds rather than oil, we’d be adding an awful lot of seeds which can cause digestive upset, adds other minerals which may not be balancing the diet, but can impair absorption of some minerals, and add many calories. The good news is that we arrive at a great ratio of omega 6 to 3 when formulating with the entire diet plan in mind.