How do you improve your dog’s skin and coat condition? Fish Oil. Fish oil is a supplement clinically shown to improve the skin and coat condition of dogs, especially dogs that suffer from a dermatitis condition. Fish oils, specifically oils derived from cold water marine fish, contain significant concentrations of Omega 3 fatty acids. Dogs require two Omega 3 fatty acids -EPA and DHA- that must be acquired from their food. In the last 30 years, researchers found that Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for normal growth and development, and prevention of arthritis, inflammation, and coronary disease. Studies on dog skin conditions have reported that a dietary supplement of fish oil at the level of 1.8 grams per day of EPA and 2.2 grams per day of DHA significantly improved skin condition and coat quality while reducing self trauma and fur loss. Commercially packaged fish oil supplements normally recommend a daily dose less than this, but few adverse effects are noted in the research literature on such supplemental levels.
Dogs that do not exhibit skin problems may also benefit from an Omega 3 supplement, because the relative amount of Omega 3 to 6 fatty acids affects a dog’s health. One study found that an increase in the concentrations of Omega 3 to 6 fatty acids produced a positive immune system response in young and geriatric dogs. Another study found that the lower the ratio of Omega 6 to 3, the lower the inflammation response of the body. Omega 6 fatty acids are typically derived from plant rather than animal tissue. This is significant; because dry dog diets typically contain higher quantities of plant tissue, i.e., dogs on dry diets typically consume greater amounts of Omega 6 compared to Omega 3 fatty acids. In addition, Omega 3 fatty acids in dry diets tend to degrade due to oxidation, further increasing the ratio of Omega 6 to 3. Supplementing a dog with fish oil will decrease the ratio of Omega 6 to 3 offsetting the possible imbalance due to consuming a dry diet.
So, if you notice your dog’s skin is dry, flaky, red, or inflamed, and/or feed a predominantly dry diet with oxidized fats, i.e. cooked fats, then a fish oil supplement might be the right dietary addition for your dog. Consult with your veterinarian and consider adding a fish oil supplement to your dog’s daily diet.
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