What are some symptoms exhibited in a dog suffering from a fat or fatty acid deficiency?
• Skin and hair problems: If your dog is constantly itching and scratching, she may need extra fatty acids in her diet. Fatty acids are found in fish oils, flax seeds and flax oils.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are important because they help reduce coat dryness and other coat problems. These fatty acids are largely found in flax and fish oils.
Dogs with dry skin are often deficient in a fatty acid called linoleic acid.
• Inflammation: This can result in several medical conditions that affect dogs, such as allergies, arthritis, colitis and certain digestive disorders. Since omega-3s prevent inflammation, they reduce the risk of all of these conditions.
• Cardiovascular Problems: Omega-3 fatty acids have a positive effect on canine’s hearts. Specifically, they can prevent irregular heartbeats and obstructed blood vessels. Omega-3 fatty acids can also lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels in dogs. A deficiency can create an increase in these problems.
If your dog suffers or is at risk for any of the conditions listed above, talk to your veterinarian about omega-3 supplements. He or she should be able to recommend one that is right for your dog. If you don’t want to go the supplement route, certain brands of pet food and pet treats also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Although side effects of omega-3 supplements are rare and occur only with unusually high doses, the most serious ones include pancreatitis and blood clotting.
It’s important to note also that omega-3 supplements add calories to your dog’s allotment, so there is also a possibility of weight gain.
Discontinue use at the first sign of allergy and don’t assume that because something is considered “natural” or a “supplement,” there won’t be a potentially harmful interaction with medicine. Discuss this thoroughly with your veterinarian.