Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Omega 3 & 6: Good fat demystified

For many pet owners it is hard to believe, but some fats are good and in fact necessary for your pets’ health. But what are they, and why are they beneficial and why is such a big deal being made about them?
Dogs derive 70% to 90% of their energy for muscle contraction from fat metabolism and only a small amount from the energy derived from carbohydrates. There is 2 ¼ times more energy in fat than in the same amount of protein or carbohydrates. Fat can originate from plant and animal sources.
For humans: Essential Fatty Acids are a form of polyunsaturated fat which the human body derives from food, and have long since been regarded as key to human health. As they cannot be produced by the body and need to be obtained from our food intake, they are called essential. Just like in humans, essential Fatty Acids cannot be produced naturally by dogs and cats. There is increasing awareness of the need for these essential Fatty Acids to be supplied in pet diets. Amongst the many kinds of Fatty Acids, two in particular feature significantly in the synthesis of physiological regulators in pets, Omega 3 & Omega 6. As Omega Fatty Acids play a big role in dogs and cats by establishing a strong barrier to infections and maintaining the nervous system, a pet that is suffering from an Omega deficiency often displays eczema like skin conditions, hear and circulatory problems, arthritic symptoms, susceptibility to infections and excessive hair loss and shedding.

However, there are good news. Pets in such apparent poor condition can be treated effectively by just taking nutritional measures. The culprit of a deficiency in Omegas 3 & 6 in dogs and cats is a poor quality diet. Typically this is the case with mass produced commercial pet food that contains harmful fillers and chemicals but yet very few healthy supplements. Many worrying skin, heart and arthritic conditions often disappear when the pet receives sufficient amounts of Omegas 3 & 6, along with a good quality diet. The manifold benefits of Omegas 3 & 6 help the management of allergies and inflammatory skin conditions by building up a healthy skin barrier, maintaining a handsome coat and healthy skin, supporting the proper development of the nervous system and visual acuity, aiding in reducing arthritic conditions, aiding in clotting after an injury and helping your pets’ immune system respond to injury and infection. Latest research also shows that the Omega 3 and 6 Fatty Acids, when provided in a proper ratio to one another (Vaughn DM, Reinhart GA, et al Evaluation of dietary n-6 to n-3 fatty acid ratios, Veterinary Dermatology pg. 163 to 173) are to be of value in treating chronic renal disease. Their vasodilatory properties alter hemodynamics, lower intraglomerular³ pressure and slow the progression of renal disease in dogs. (Brown S.A. Influence of dietary fatty acids in intra renal hypertension – Recent advances in Canine and Feline Nutrition Vol. 2 pages 405 to 411)
Omega 6 Fatty Acids are common in most pet foods. They are derived from plant sources such as corn and sunflower oils. Omega 6 Fatty Acids are considered pro inflammatory, immunosuppressive and pro aggregatory. Omega 3 Fatty Acids on the other side are far less common in pet foods as they are derived from more expensive ingredients like for example flax seed and cold water fish oils and fish meals. They are considered less inflammatory, anti aggregatory, vasodilatory and not immunosuppressive. (Reinhart GA, Review of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and dietary influences on tissue concentration, Recent advances in canine and feline nutritional research, pg. 235-242) In order to get the full benefit of those two Omega Fatty Acids, they must be in a proper ration to one another. This ratio is believed to range between 5 to 1 and 10 to 1, i.e. a ratio of 5 to 10 parts of Omega 6 to 1 part Omega 3. This ratio is considered to be ideal in order to achieve the maximum benefit of the fatty acids. As usual, the low end foods are nowhere near these ratios, thereby delivering little value. Pet food manufacturers of high quality pet food having the well being of our pets in mind fully understand the importance of making Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids readily available to your pets. Their holistic range of food products very often is unique in that they utilize premium ingredients such as for example venison, salmon, and alikes for their Omega rich properties. Thereby they are making it as easy as possible for pet owners to ensure their pets receive the essential Fatty Acids they need.
What does it mean to you when you are looking for pet food? Naturally preserved chicken fat is highly digestible and perhaps provides the best balance of fatty acids. When combined with fat from flax, deep water fish meal and fish oil, the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 can be considered as being ideal.
¹ Vasodilation refers to the widening of blood vessels resulting from relaxation of smooth muscle cells within the vessel walls, particularly in the large arteries, smaller arterioles and large veins.
² Hemodynamics, meaning literally blood movement, is the study of blood flow or the circulation
³blood flow regulating

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