If You’re Going To Choose Just One Supplement To Give This Is The One!

Studies show omega-3 fatty acids can help your pet live longer, healthier lives. Omega 3s are classified as essential because humans and mammals are unable to synthesize these and must obtain them from fish, crustaceans or vegetables.

It is important to note that NOT all omega 3 supplements are created equal. In this article I will guide you through the choices of omega 3 supplementations that are on the market and how you can choose the best one for your dog and for yourself.

Benefits of Omega 3 supplementation:

  1. Brain, heart and joint support
  2. Reduction of DNA damage
  3. Treatment for skin and coat
  4. Controls inflammation
  5. Cancer prevention
  6. Mood support
  7. Studies show it increases longevity

Different forms of Omega 3s

  1. Ethyl esters-cheap way of manufacturing that decreases absorption. Least desirable form. Ethyl esters also seem to be more prone to oxidation and rancidity than triglycerides
  2. Triglycerides (80-90% absorption)
  3. Phospholipids (90-95% absorption) Most desirable

Sources:

  1. Whole fish
  2. Fish/seafood oil
  3. Phytoplankton
  4. Algae

*Plant-based omega 3s such as flax, chia and hemp are not recommended as a source of DHA and EPA. Dogs do not have the enzyme delta 6-desaturase to convert the precursors α-linolenic (n-3) and linoleic acid to DHA and EPA. They are great for helping balance the ratio of omega 3:6 and support skin health but should not be a replacement for DHA and EPA.

Whole fish

Eating whole foods that are rich in omega-3s, like fatty fish, is the best way to get enough omega 3s. You can do this by giving your dog sardines. They’re a wonderful source of omega-3 fatty acids, they’re caught in the wild and they’re inexpensive.

Sardines provide 2000 mg of omega 3s per 3 ounce serving which is one of the highest levels of omega 3s and lowest levels of mercury of any fish.`

Fish Oil

There are many options on the market today.

1. Salmon oil- Salmon is a great source of omega 3s however I recommend avoiding Alaskan and BC salmon due to petroleum based hydrocarbons that are still detectable from the Exxon disaster. Unfortunately there are no refinement or filtration methods that will remove this type of contaminant.

2. Krill oil is extracted from Antarctic krill, a small shrimp-like animal. Krill oil contains omega-3s in both triglyceride and phospholipid form. Krill are very small and have a short lifespan, so they don’t accumulate many contaminants during their lifetime. Therefore, their oil doesn’t need to be purified and is rarely found in the ethyl ester form. Krill oil is highly resistant to oxidation, as it naturally contains a potent antioxidant called astaxanthin. Downside is that it is expensive.

3. Green- lipped mussel (one of my faves)-The green-lipped mussel is native to New Zealand, and its oil is usually in the form of triglycerides and free fatty acids. Other than EPA and DHA, it also contains trace amounts of eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA). This rare omega-3 fatty acid may be even more effective at lowering inflammation than other omega-3s. Consuming green-lipped mussel oil, rather than fish oil, is considered to be environmentally friendly.

4. Other types include sardine, anchovy, clam oils

Algal oil (algae)

This is a great source of Omega 3s for a number of reasons. Marine algae, particularly microalgae, are a triglyceride source of EPA and DHA. The EPA and DHA in fish actually originate in algae. It’s eaten by smaller fish and moves up the food chain from there. Studies show that algal oil is even more concentrated in omega-3s, particularly DHA, than fish oil. Algal oil is considered to be environmentally friendly. It doesn’t contain any contaminants, such as heavy metals, which makes it a sustainable, healthy option.

Phytoplankton

Although this is a superfood packed with trace minerals, the amount that you would need to feed your dog in order to reach the daily requirements of omega 3s is enormous. You would need 1lb of phytoplankton powder per 1 lb meat. You can add this to the daily supplements for its added benefits but do not rely on it to fulfill the DHA & EPA requirements.

Factors To Consider When Choosing The Source of Omega 3s:

  1. The toxin load (environmental contaminants) of the particular fish source
    1. Avoid larger fish such as swordfish and shark and instead choose fish lower in the food chain such as sardines, krill, anchovies, salmon, mackerel.
    2. Consider where they are caught
  2. The concentration of EPA & DHA
  3. Manufacturing process
  4. Purification process-Purification rids the oil of contaminants, such as heavy metals, dioxins and PCBs
  5. Sustainability/environmentally friendly
  6. Cost
  7. Third party testing

Dosing:

Dosing is dependent on the bioavailability and absorption of the supplement that you choose. The minimal daily requirement of DHA/EPA for dogs is 20mg per 1lb body weight. For example a 50lb dog would need at least 1000mg total DHA & EPA. If you are feeding a diet which contains added fish oil then you would have to take that into account.

Storage:

1- Must be in glass.  Plastic is not good because plastic breaths.  That’s why your soda goes flat over time sitting in your cupboard.  

2- Packaged in an Amber or colored bottle to protect from light

3- Keep it refrigerated after opening.

4- Longevity- up to 2 years unopened with proper storage.  Seven days if left outside of the fridge and exposed to air, 90 days if sealed and refrigerated. 

5- Avoid exposure to heat and oxygen.

*If you are feeding a dry kibble that has added fish oil consider that this is likely to go rancid since it is often kept in a bag that leaves it exposed to oxygen and is not refrigerated after opening.

The Bottom Line

  • Omega 3 supplementation is awesome and you and your dog should take a supplement daily, forever.
  • Choose an Omega 3 source that is third party tested, has high concentration of DHA & EPA, from a sustainable source that is low in environmental contaminants.
  • Store in the refrigerator, choose packaging that eliminates oxygen and is a colored glass bottle. Smell it to make sure it hasn’t gone rancid.
  • For better absorption, look for FFA (free fatty acids), TG, rTG (triglycerides and reformed triglycerides), and PLs (phospholipids) and avoid EE (ethyl esters).
  • Green-lipped mussel oil, whole sardines (in water, no salt added) and Algal oil are my faves.
  • Brands I recommend include: Fera Pet Organics Algal oil, adored beast algae oil, fourleafrover green-lipped mussel oil, nordic naturals. I use Fera Algal oil for my dogs and Vivo Life algal oil for me. I order packaged Wild Planet sardines from amazon by the case.

At the end of the day, omega-3s may be one of the most beneficial supplements you give your dog.  Just be sure to choose wisely.