How to get the right balance of Omega 6 and Omega 3
Managing our dogs' intake of fat is vital, but it's not just the amount of fat that matters – the type of fat is also important.
Fats are a vital component of our dogs' diets as well as a concentrated source of energy and the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats are needed for the normal development and function of body cells, muscles, nerves and organs and in the production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone like substances that play a key role in many important processes in the body, including inflammation.
There are 3 different types of fats - saturated, unsaturated and polyunsaturated. Here we are going to focus on polyunsaturated fats which can be divided into 2 types: Omega-3 and Omega-6, the essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are required by our dogs but must be supplied in their food, as they cannot be produced within the body. The ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 has an important effect on the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids include ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). They are vital for normal metabolism and also have anti-inflammatory properties at a cellular level. They have been shown to play a role in preventing and addressing joint issues, skin issues, heart health and cancer, amongst other things.
Omega-6 fatty acids that are essential for dogs include LA (linoleic acid) and AA (arachidonic acid). These fatty acids help with cellular function and are needed for reproduction and growth as well as immune function. Omega-6 fatty acids produce hormones and increase inflammation, which is a vital part of the immune response. However, some dog foods are very high in omega-6 acids and as a result many dogs have an intake that is too high, leading to cellular inflammation. If this diet is fed on a sustained basis it can lead to chronic inflammation.
The balance between Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats is critical for regulating blood pressure and controlling inflammation. Broadly speaking the lower the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats the better.
Due to the fragility of omega-3 fatty acids it is not easy to include them in processed dog foods, which are cooked at very high temperatures. Furthermore, much of the meat that is available today comes from animals that have been fed a diet high in processed grains. This leads to a higher ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 than would be found in meat from an animal that had grazed in pasture.
At Different Dog we are constantly creating new recipes, and as a result we regularly test our food in a number of ways. We publish an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio for every recipe we produce – just look in the "Analytical Constituents" section underneath the ingredients list. We believe we are the first dog food company to do this.
Different Dog achieves low Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios through sourcing high quality ingredients, a gentle cooking process, and the addition of salmon oil, which is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, at a late stage in the cooking process.
It is well worth ensuring that there is an appropriately low ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 in your dog's diet.