Why do dog owners feed fish oil?
There are several good reasons to give your dog this #1 best selling supplement. But the main reason is the omega-3 fats fish oil contains. Or, more specifically, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
These two omega-3 fats are an important addition to your dog’s diet. It’s hard to dispute their value.
The problem is, fish oil strains already over-fished oceans. It benefits your dog … but its impact on the planet are devastating.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to fish oil that carry the same healthy fats for your dog.
But before we talk about the alternatives, let’s quickly talk about why your dog needs EPA and DHA in his diet.
The Health Benefits Of EPA And DHA
EPA plays second fiddle to DHA. But together, these powerful fats deliver important health benefits to your dog including:
Clearly, there are a lot of healthy reasons to give your dog EPA and DHA. But it doesn’t have to come from fish oil!
Let’s look at other sources of EPA and DHA that will benefit your dog … and the planet.
Green Lipped Mussels
Green Lipped Mussels are an excellent source of EPA and DHA.
Green Lipped Mussels (Perna canaliculus) are native to pristine New Zealand. But most Green Lipped Mussels used in supplements are grown in aquatic farms, which protects the ocean’s ecosystem.
Fish can be raised commercially, but farmed fish are fed a corn-based diet that’s high in omega-6 fatty acids. On the other hand, mussels survive by filtering phytoplankton from water, so even commercially raised mussels are safe for your dog and contain a healthy serving of EPA and DHA.
Green Lipped Mussel More Effective For Joint Pain
If you’re giving your dog fish oil to help his joints, Green Lipped Mussels are a better choice.
Green Lipped Mussels are rich in Eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA). It’s this fatty acid that also makes mussels so effective for controlling inflammation.
A study on rats compared the effect of Green Lipped Mussel to fish oil and other sources of omega-3 fats. The rats receiving the fish oil had a 31% decrease in arthritis scores, while the rats receiving Green Lipped Mussel treatment saw a 42-75% reduction in score.
Both liquid and powdered Green Lipped Mussels can be given to your dog. But be sure the fats aren’t removed … some manufacturers remove the Omega-3 fats from their powders. Stripping out these fats renders them useless to your dog.
If you’re giving your dog powdered Green Lipped Mussel, give about 77mg per kg of your dog’s weight. That’s about 1,500mg for a 50 pound dog.
Phytoplankton are tiny marine plants that are full of EPA and DHA. In fact, it’s phytoplankton that provides both Green Lipped Mussels and fish their omega-3 fats.
These little plants are packed with other nutrients too.
One important component of phytoplankton is SOD or Superoxide Dismutase. SOD is one of the most powerful antioxidants you can give your dog. Antioxidants help slow aging by preventing oxidative stress in your dog’s body and brain.
Phytoplankton adds important trace minerals that support your dog’s metabolic functions. It’s a true superfood that can help prevent serious disease and improve overall health.
The good news is … you don’t have to raid the oceans to feed phytoplankton. Like Green Lipped Mussels, you can buy phytoplankton that’s sustainably grown on land.
Phytoplankton usually comes in a powder, and you only need a tiny amount. That’s because phytoplankton is a tiny, single cell.
What’s unique about these tiny little plankton cells is that can easily travel right into your dog’s cells … they don’t need to be digested like other foods or supplements. They travel right into your dog’s cells where they deliver their nutrients, antioxidants and healthy fats.
Check the ingredient label to make sure there are no fillers. But if it’s pure phytoplankton powder, 1/8 tsp a day is all you need to give any size dog.
Brains And Eyes
All offal and organ meats are a healthy addition to any dog’s diet. They’re packed with vitamins … especially B vitamins and natural vitamin D. And they’re brimming with minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients.
You might already feed your dog liver … and if you’re a more advanced raw feeder, you might feed kidneys, spleen, pancreas, testicles, sweetbreads, tongue or heart.
But brains and eyes are organs you should add to your dog’s diet.
Since DHA is necessary for the function of both organs, eyes and brain are both a good source of EPA and DHA.
In fact, 4 oz of brain has about 1g each of DHA and EPA. That’s twice as much DHA and more EPA than one teaspoon of fish oil.
Eyeballs are full of DHA and EPA, as well as vitamin A (or retinol). They’re good for vision … and they can stimulate brain cells and improve memory.
Eyeballs can be hard to find. If you buy your dog’s meat at an abattoir or old fashioned butcher, ask about eyeballs. If you can get them, you’ll want to add them to your dog’s diet.
Feed your dog as wide a variety of organ meats as you can. They’re quite rich … so if your dog’s not used to them, start out slowly to avoid tummy upset. But increase them gradually to about 15% of your dog’s diet.
Fish Oil Lacks Vitamins And Minerals
While whole fish is rich in vitamins and important minerals, fish oil is relatively devoid of key nutrients. Plus fish oil is heat processed … and this is an important distinction for raw feeders.
So if you’re looking to add DHA and EPA to your dog’s diet, there are more nutritious alternatives that are sustainable and cost effective.
Move over, fish oil … it’s time for the next generation of fats!