Saturday, March 21, 2009
Benefits of giving your pets fish oil
I have a black cat and periodically, I have black foster cats. I notice that they look like they have dandruff sometimes. It is common in cats of all colors but it is more noticeable in black kitties. I have "cured" this dandruff by using a supplement containing fish oil, flaxseed oil and borage oil. (You can also use a supplement of only fish oil) According to the bottle, this pill contains Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA, ALA), omega 6 fatty acids (CLA, GLA, ALA), and omega 9 fatty acids (OA). Surprisingly, fish oil has many benefits for our pets.
Most commercially available fish oils are derived from coldwater fish, primarily menhaden, but also salmon and trout. Fish, in turn, obtain EPA and DHA from algae, making super green foods such as marine micro-algae an alternate source of EPA and DHA. Algae may become the dominant source of omega-3 fatty acids as fish populations continue to decline in the world’s oceans.
Fish oil supplementation may be helpful for pets with inflammatory diseases including allergies, arthritis, kidney disease, heart disease, and cancers. These oils are rich in the Omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Fish oil does not appear to raise blood sugar levels in pets with diabetes despite earlier concerns about this.
Flaxseed oil contains alpha-linolenic acid (ALA,) an omega-3 fatty acid that is ultimately converted to EPA and DHA. In fact, flax seed oil contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) than fish oil. It also contains omega-6 fatty acids. Unlike the case for fish oil, there is little evidence that flaxseed oil is effective for any specific therapeutic purpose with the following exceptions. Flax seed oil can improve the coat and skin of pets. Also, the lignans contained in flax seed oil may have anti-cancer benefits.
In pets with some types of cancer, fish oil appears to slow down the growth of the cancer. While more studies are needed on other types of cancer, the general recommendation is to add fish oil to the diets of all pets with cancer.
Higher-end pet food brands may state on their label that their food has omega 3 fatty acids in it, often in the form of fish meal. Even if the proper fish were used to make fish meal, EPA and DHA are too fragile to survive the shelf life of commercial pet food. The only reliable source of EPA and DHA is salmon oil in capsules.
I use capsules sold for humans. They are of the same quality (maybe better) than the pet capsules and they are much cheaper. I put one capsule in about 3 oz. of wet food (you can also put it over dry food). I give it 2 or 3 times a week. It is cheaper for me to give it only a few days a week and I still get the same result as I did when I gave it everyday. To release the oil, I poke the capsule with a safety pin or thumb tack. Be sure to rinse off the thumb tack or whatever you use. The fish oil tends to stay on it and will pool underneath it and become a sticky mess after awhile. Don't use a pen! It won't work after you use it.