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

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Reducing inflammation is important to coat health. Inflammation increases allergies, resulting in a scruffy-looking coat. Inflammation is also conducive to arthritis, so a diet with a proper fatty acid ratio may help decrease joint pain. Omega fatty acids act on the body in other ways, too. They can decrease the risk of blood clots, help maintain the health of brain cells and have been shown to inhibit the growth of certain types of cancer. By decreasing the amount of water lost through the skin, they keep the skin supple and soft, and promote shiny, healthy hair.

Omega 6 fatty acids are fairly easy to get in a diet. They abound in the plant kingdom, especially in sunflower and safflower oil. Dogs can also create their own from a metabolic precursor called linoleic acid, found in almost every dog food. Deficiencies of omega 6 fatty acids are uncommon, except when dogs eat generic food from manufacturers who cut corners or when dogs consume a high-fiber diet such as a weight reduction plan. "Most reputable pet food companies make food that is complete and balanced with appropriate levels of omega 6 and even omega 3 fatty acids in them already," said Lutschaunig at Friskies. "Deficiencies of omega 6 fatty acids are most likely to occur when you feed a low-cost, untested feed that is made by companies that sacrifice quality by cutting costs. Also, owners can inadvertently cause problems by adding things that throw the food's nutritional balance out of whack. For example, when owners load the food with bran or extra fiber for weight loss, it can bind fatty acids and cause a problem."

It's harder to get a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids, even in good quality dog foods, because today's meat and cereal grains are poor sources "Omega 3s were probably prevalent in a dog's natural diet hundreds of years ago," Carey said. "We've found good levels in some wild animals, and even pasture-fed lamb from certain parts of Australia have high omega 3s in their meat. But not American-raised meats or common cereals."

The best sources of omega 3the anti-inflammatory fatty acidis in marine fish oil and whole ground flaxseed. Many nutritionists now consider the omega 3 a conditionally essential food. This means that under conditions of unavailable natural sources, a dog needs omega 3 fatty acids added to its food each day. Several manufacturers offer products that feature a coat-enhancing balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, including: Eukanuba's entire dog food line, Hill's Veterinary Diets line, Purina's Veterinary Formula line, Waltham's Formula Coat Care, Pedigree's entire Canine Diets line, Canidae's entire line, and Solid Gold's Hund'n Flock en.

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Janet   Bethlehem, PA

2/6/2012 6:11:00 AM

good article, thank you

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