ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS – THE IMPORTANCE OF A BALANCED OMEGA 6 : OMEGA 3 RATIO FOR DOG HEALTH
Elevate Your Dog’s Food Beyond Simple Nutrition
Welcome to ‘Ingredients with a Purpose’ - a series of science informed articles on the role the ingredients in your dog’s food plays in achieving their best health and wellbeing at every stage of their precious lives at the same time helping to reduce the environmental impact feeding them has on our precious planet.
We understand there are a LOT of options when it comes to what you feed your dog. We also understand you want to offer them the best food possible, and labels can be confusing. The goal of this series is to give you clear insight into the reason for the inclusion of every ingredient in our super premium food, the role it plays and what is necessary to guarantee you are feeding your dog an all-natural, complete, and balanced, diet.
These are the key elements necessary for positive nutrition.
Protein, Fats & Carbohydrates, Fibres, Vitamins & Minerals, Essential Fatty Acids, Superfoods, Amino Acids, Prebiotics & Probiotics
Essential Fatty Acids – The Importance of a Balanced Omega 6 : Omega 3 Ratio for Dog Health
Omega-3 (Ω-3), omega-6 (Ω-6), and omega-9 (Ω-3) are fatty acids and important dietary fats.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 are considered essential fatty acids (EFA’s) because neither your body nor your dog can produce them, so these important nutrients must come from your respective diets.
Omega-9 fatty acids aren’t strictly “essential,” as the body can produce them.
They all have health benefits, however it’s very important to get the right balance between them. An imbalance in your diet can contribute to a number of chronic diseases.
Omega-3 (Ω-3) – Types, Sources and Health Benefits
The three most important types of Omega-3 are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). ALA is mainly found in plants, while DHA and EPA occur mostly in fish, seafoods and algae.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is the most common omega-3 fatty acid in your diet. It’s mostly found in plant foods and is an essential precursor of EPA or DHA.
However, the conversion process is inefficient in humans and dogs. Only a small percentage of ALA is converted into EPA — and even less into DHA ( 1, 2, 3, 4)
Rich sources of ALA include - flaxseed oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, rapeseed oil, soybean oil, edamame, navy beans, avocados, kale, spinach and oatmeal
Sources rich in DHA and EPA include – oily fish (mackerel, tuna, salmon, herring, sardine and menhaden), oysters, prawns and seaweed (algae)
There is concern that along with environmental problem associated with overfishing needed to satisfy demand for fish and seafood-based Omega-3, there are concerns of heavy metal contamination which is potentially very harmful for both us and our dog’s health.
Of the 3, Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the most important omega-3 fatty acid in your dog’s body.
The health benefits offered by DHA include:
- Allergies - Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce symptoms caused by allergies. They work to reduce airway inflammation, offering potential relief from the symptoms of seasonal allergies in dogs.
- Brain Health - Healthy dog brains are about 60% structural fat. 30% of the fat in grey matter is DHA, the most abundant fatty acid in the brain. The remaining 10% is made of love for you. DHA may improve cognitive function in puppies as well as senior dogs.
- Central Nervous System - The accumulation DHA in the central nervous system membranes is vital for your dog’s optimum retina and brain functions.
- Immune System - The immune system protects organisms from invading pathogens, such as viruses or bacteria. DHA plays an important role in mediating your dog’s body after an immune response helping to restore immune system balance.
- Inflammation – DHA has an anti-inflammatory effect on your dog’s body helping to ensure that low level chronic inflammation, associated with many chronic diseases is reduced.
- Joint Health – DHA promotes cartilage development and provide support for joint health through a reduction in inflammation, a primary cause of joint and mobility issues for dogs.
- Kidney Disease - In a U.S. National Library of Medicine study, Omega-3 supplementation has shown the ability to slow the progression of kidney damage significantly.
- Skin and Coat Health – DHA (with EPA) has been shown to provide support for your dog’s skin and coat
- Weight Management and Heart Health – DHA, together with other Omega 3 acids, has been shown to increase weight loss in overweight dogs as well as helping to reduce bad cholesterol levels.
The health benefits of EPA include:
- Supporting Normal Growth and Function - supportneuronal, retinal, cardiovascular and immune function
- Maintenance of Energy Levels – acts as regulator of energy metabolism as well resting energy expenditure
- Improving Nutrient Absorption - helps stimulate protein synthesis
Omega-6 (Ω-6) – Types, Sources and Health Benefits
Like omega-3’s, omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids. Like omega-3’s they are also essential and because our bodies cannot produce them they must be derived from you and your dog’s diet.
Their principal function is to provide energy. The most common omega-6 fat is linoleic acid (LA), which the body can convert to longer omega-6 fats such as arachidonic acid (AA) ( 1)
There are four types of omega-6 fats:
The richest sources of Omega-6 include chicken, soy and soy oil, safflower oil, walnuts, corn and corn oil, walnuts and edamame.
Omega-9 (Ω-9) – Types, Sources and Health Benefits
Omega-9 fatty acids are monounsaturated fats, and as outlined previously are not considered ‘essential’ as both you and your dog’s bodies are able to produce them.
The most common form of the Omega-9’s is Oleic acid (OA) and it is amongst the most commonly consumed monounsaturated fatty acids in our diets.
Foods high in Omega-9 include vegetable and seed oils, nuts and seeds – olive oil, cashew nut oil, avocado oil, walnuts, rapeseed oil, peanut oil, almonds and animal fats.
Whilst not considered ‘essential’, consuming foods with Omega-9 are believed to be anti-inflammatory and also to improve insulin sensitivity ( 36)
Whilst Omega-3 acid is anti-inflammatory, Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory.
Although Omega-6 plays a key role in the immune system, over consumption increases the risk of inflammation which increases the risk of chronic disease ( 2)
Balanced consumption of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats is crucial to optimising the benefits each offers.
Early human diets resulted in an Omega-6: Omega-3 balance of somewhere close to 1:1. The modern Western diet has skewed the balance somewhere nearer 17:1, a balance considered to be inflammatory and responsible for the significant increase in obesity, chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers ( 5, 6, 7, 9)
Because intensively farmed animals’ diets include high levels of Omega-6 rich ingredients – soy, sunflower meal and corn – the levels of Omega-6 found in their meat and organs has significantly increased over the decades. By feeding dogs a meat-based diet we are inadvertently increasing their Omega-6: Omega-3 ratio increasing the risks of inflammation and the chronic diseases associated.
Scientists believe the optimum balance, for you and your dog’s health, is between 1:1 and 2:1 ( 8, 9)
Bonza includes a variety of Omega-3 rich ingredients including seaweed and seaweed oil extract, rapeseed oil, oats, kale and spinach to improve the balance and to deliver the many health benefits Omega-3 fatty acids deliver for your dog.
Bonza complete plant-based food has been formulated to deliver a Ω-6:Ω-3 ratio of 1.89:1 considered to be an excellent balance for maximising the benefits these essential fatty acids provide for your dog’s health and wellbeing through their lives and well into their senior years.
Delivering an optimum balance of essential fatty acids together with PhytoPlus®, a proprietary blend of superfoods, super herbs and botanicals, our food is designed to support your dog living its longest, carefree life all the while reducing the harm to the planet of feeding them.
Bonza. Nose to Tail Good Health.