Go for the Gleam

Omega fatty acids hold the key to glossy coats.

By Joanne Healey Howl, DVM | Posted: Thu Nov 23 00:00:00 PST 2000

Page 2 of 4

Some newer, naturally based dog food companies avoid AAFCO standards, which are strictly voluntary guidelines. If your dog's food hasn't been AAFCO-tested, try switching to one that has been. You're likely to see a glowing coat within two months.

While most dogs thrive on AAFCO-tested food, some still don't develop a show-ring gloss. As scientists continue to hunt for nutrients to maximize health, breeders and kennel owners turn to various supplements to bring on the bloom. In the past, the shining secret might have been cottage cheese, cod liver oil or corn oil. Today it might be a blend of herbal antioxidants with vitamin E and fatty acids. But an overly desperate approachtreating the dull coat with skin-promoting additives in random fashioncan backfire. Calcium supplements, for example, can bind zinc in the diet and damage the coat, while too much vitamin A can cause thickened skin as well as serious systemic disease.

Science sometimes confirms the truths in many traditional dog remedies. For example, the whey in cottage cheese is full of B vitamins, an ingredient that old-time farm dog diets lacked. It's also been discovered cod liver oil is high in vitamin A, v itamin D and omega 3 fatty acids, while plant oils are rich in omega 6 fatty acidsall of which are important for skin health. The biggest breakthroughs in skin nutrition, however, have focused on the omega fatty acids. Science began to reveal
during the last five years how these fatty acids, long found in home coat remedies, improve a dog's coat and health.

"Fatty acids are the building blocks of fat and play a role in a dog's health," said Dan Carey, DVM, a research veterinarian with the The lams Company Technical Center in Lewisburg, Ohio. "When you build a house, you need different kinds of bricks, and it's the same when you build fat. Imagine that the omega 6 fatty acids are hot red bricks, and omega 3 fatty acids are cool blue ones. Just as the proper mix of bricks is needed to get the house looking good, the right mix of fatty acids is needed to build a strong, healthy body and coat."

However, fatty acids do more than make a coat glow. "Each type of fatty acid has a different effect on inflammation," Carey said. "The red bricks (omega 6) increase inflammation, and the blue ones (omega 3) decrease it. But a body needs both - you just can't do away with all the red bricks or the house won't stand. What's vital are the correct proportions."

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Janet   Bethlehem, PA

2/4/2012 3:13:40 AM

good article, thank you

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