Have you been thinking about adding omega-3 to your dog’s diet? There are internet articles and supplements galore touting the health benefits of omega-3 … for you and your dog! But it’s not as simple as just picking up some fish oil at the grocery store or pharmacy.
So here’s some important advice about the best way to give omega-3 to your dog.
Omega-3 And Cancer
The researchers looked at inflammatory conditions in dogs … and whether they increase the risk of T-zone lymphoma (TZL). TZL is behind about 12% of all dog lymphomas. And more than 40% of TZL cases occur in Golden Retrievers. The study found that omega-3 supplements may decrease the odds of TZL. This is especially significant if you happen to have a Golden Retriever.
But that’s not all. The researchers also found that omega-3 supplements can help lessen the effects of inflammatory diseases … and boost immune system response in dogs. Chronic inflammation is a cause of many stubborn health issues … so omega-3 is also a good idea to help ease a wide range of symptoms.
Should You Give Your Dog Omega-3?
Yes, omega-3 fatty acids are very important for your dog. Omega-3s help reduce inflammation in your dog’s body. But omega-6 fats increase inflammation. And the problem is that dogs often get too many omega-6 fats in their diets. That’s because many meats are high in omega-6 (especially chicken, duck and pork). This creates an imbalance that can lead to health issues such as:
So clearly, your dog needs omega-3 supplements. But which one? There are many omega-3 products on the market, but which type is best?
Choosing The Best Omega-3 For Dogs
Before you dash out and pick up a random bottle of fish oil … there are some drawbacks you need to know about.
When you think of omega-3, your mind probably goes to fish … or, more specifically, fish oil. While fish oil is indeed loaded with the essential omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). it has many downsides. And these can cancel out the benefits.
The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are very vulnerable to oxidative damage. This means they break down when they’re exposed to oxygen. Gving your dog rancid fish oil can lead to a whole range of health problems. Premature aging, gene mutation, inflammation and cancer are just a few. So it can defeat the purpose of giving your dog the oil to begin with.
Fish oil can begin to oxidize before you even buy it. And it continues to oxidize and turn rancid every time you open the bottle to give your dog a dose. So you may think you’re making your dog healthier, but you could actually be doing the opposite.
Fish oil can also contain heavy metals, toxins and radiation. Unfortunately … fish contain these contaminants. Our oceans are more polluted than ever before due to our industrial lifestyle.
And remember the tsunamis that hit the Fukushima nuclear power plant back in 2011? According to press reports, fish caught off the California coast are now testing positive for radiation.
As an earth-conscious citizen, you should also know that fish oil isn’t sustainable. There’s over-fishing of many species that help keep the oceans clean and full of oxygen. And each year fisheries kill hundreds of thousands of other sea creatures in the process. This includes whales, dolphins and sea turtles.
What about krill oil? Some people say it’s safer than other fish oils.
Truth is … it isn’t much better. Krill is the main food source for whales and other ocean mammals. And the ocean’s population of these tiny crustaceans is falling dramatically.
Even sources that say they’re sustainably fished … really aren’t, because krill are over-fished at such an alarming rate. So don’t add to the problem by giving your dog krill oil when there are other alternatives that are truly sustainable.
Green Lipped Mussel Oil
Green lippped mussel oil has some of the same benefits of fish oil, because it’s rich in EPA and DHA. But it contains even more benefits. Green lipped mussel oil has 30 fatty acids, compared to just 2 in other marine oils.
Green lipped mussel oil also contains ETA (eicosatetraenoic acid). ETA is another omega-3 fatty acid with anti-inflammatory effects. Your dog can also convert ETA to EPA. And EPA is known to improve arthritis symptoms, helping to regenerate cartilage.
Green lipped mussel oil s rich in phospholipids … an important source of omega-3 fatty acids. Phospholipids are better absorbed and less prone to oxidation. A 1997 study published in Inflammopharmacology stated phospholipids in green lipped mussel oil make it 158 times more effective than fish oil.
But it’s better for your dog … and the planet. Green lipped mussels are sustainably farmed in clear New Zealand waters. They eat phytoplankton and offer a concentrated source of nutrients. So the oil is environmentally responsible as well as free of contaminants.
Phytoplankton is a whole food that can deliver your dog omega-3s and a range of other nutrients, including trace minerals, chlorophyll, antioxidants and essential amino acids. These extra nutrients support your dog’s overall health. They help mobility and joint health … as well as allergies and skin issues.
And these tiny plants can be grown on land, in filtered water, making them a safe, non-toxic … and sustainable … choice. Always look for sustainably grown phytoplankton when you buy it. Unfortunately, phytoplankton is also very expensive, and you’ll need to give a lot of it for your dog to get enough omega-3 fatty acids.
Feed Whole Fish
Another great option is to give your dog whole fish. Choose oily fish … and feed your dog small fish such as mackerel, sardines and anchovies.
These types of fish only feed on phytoplankton. Larger fish that are higher up the food chain and eat smaller fish contain more toxins.
Are There Other Omega-3 options?
Hemp oil and flaxseed oil are both plant-based sources of omega-3.
Hemp seed oil contains a range of vitamins and minerals (and no psychoactive THC … in case you were wondering). Hempseed oil provides an ideal balance of omega-3, 6 and 9.
Flaxseed contains a lot of omega-3. But keep in mind that flaxseed oil also contains phytic acid, which can actually rob your dog of some minerals.
If you decide to go with one of these oils for your dog, make sure you choose a cold-pressed variety.
RELATED: Read advice from Dr Demian Dressler (aka The Dog Cancer Vet) about preventing cancer …
Omega-3 fatty acids are important immune-boosting supplements to help control chronic inflammation that leads to cancer as well as other diseases.
Labadie JD, Magzamen S, Morley PS, Anderson GB, Yoshimoto J, Avery AC. Associations of environment, health history, T-zone lymphoma, and T-zone-like cells of undetermined significance: A case-control study of aged Golden Retrievers. J Vet Intern Med. 2019;33(2):764-775.
Whitehouse MW, Macrides TA, Kalafatis N, Betts WH, Haynes DR, Broadbent J. Anti-inflammatory activity of a lipid fraction (lyprinol) from the NZ green-lipped mussel. Inflammopharmacology. 1997;5(3):237-46.
Hielm-Björkman A, Tulamo RM, Salonen H, Raekallio M. Evaluating Complementary Therapies for Canine Osteoarthritis Part I: Green-lipped Mussel (Perna canaliculus). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009;6(3):365-373.
Freitas RDS, Campos MM. Protective Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Cancer-Related Complications. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):945. Published 2019 Apr 26.
Gutiérrez S, Svahn SL, Johansson ME. Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Immune Cells. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(20):5028. Published 2019 Oct 11. doi:10.3390/ijms20205028