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Can omega-3 cure your dog’s itchy skin?

 by bora on 05 Nov 2019 |
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Many dogs suffer from seasonal allergies, but science is shedding some light on a supplement that can help relieve Fido’s itchy skin: omega-3 fatty acid.

Thousands of dogs suffer from atopic dermatitis, a skin condition often linked to pollens, molds and other environmental allergens, especially during the warmer months of the year. Left untreated, this minor skin condition can lead to major infections due to itching, scratching and open wounds, so it’s important to treat dermatitis at its source. Fortunately, science is shedding some light on how we can help our canine companions combat this inflammatory skin condition.

Pet food has come a long way in recent years, but most dogs still don’t get the omega-3 fatty acids they need through their diets. Dogs can’t product these carbon chains on their own, so it’s important they get omega-3s such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in their diet. Pets deficient in these unsaturated fats have been found to experience more frequent sensitivity to allergens, leading to excess itching. By supporting your pet’s immune system, omega-3 helps combat allergic reactions—but not all omegas are created equal.

Omega-3 comes from many sources including flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnut oil, and soybean oil, but this form of the molecule, called alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, is not readily useable by dog’s bodies. Instead, it’s much more efficient to provide pets with omega-3 in the form of EPA and DHA, found primarily in cold-water fish such as salmon and some types of algae. Another source of these readily available omega-3 fatty acids is krill, a tiny sea creature. Krill oil has the benefit of being environmentally sustainable, as it’s lower on the food chain than fish, and lower levels of toxins that can bioaccumulate further up the food chain.

There are, of course, hang ups no matter what type of omega-3 supplement you chose. The dose of omega-3 needed to treat health conditions in dogs has not been established with any degree of certainty, so choosing the right dose for your pet can be a guessing game at best. Fortunately, omega-3s are incredibly safe in moderate doses, so most pet owners don’t need to worry about feeding Fido too much of the beneficial fatty acids. It’s also important to find an omega product that has been preserved to prevent oxidation, which leads to rancid oils. In many omega-3 products, it is also important to find out what method manufacturers use to remove mercury that can bioaccumulate in fish. Whatever type of supplement you choose for your pet should be high-quality and list the amount of  EPA and DHA contained in the product.

There is still significant research required to establish the best way to treat your dog’s dermatitis with omega-3s. However, science points more and more to the benefits of the fatty acids, as long as Fido is receiving a high-quality product to supplement his food.

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