As pet owners, we all want the best for our furry family members. One of the most impactful ways to ensure good overall health is a well-balanced fresh, real food diet. Including fresh fish in your pet's diet at least twice a week can bring about significant health benefits, especially when it comes to omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that is crucial for the overall health of pets, and people. It plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy joints, coat and skin, promoting brain function, and reducing inflammation. Our diets, due to modern day farming practices, do not have high enough levels of omega-3 from meat alone.
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids:
1. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) - EPA is found in cold-water fish and algae, and is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. EPA helps to reduce inflammation in the body, which can lead to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, arthritis, and depression.
2. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - DHA is also found in cold-water fish and is important for brain and eye health. It is essential for the proper development and function of the brain and nervous system, and is particularly important for infants and young children, puppies and kittens.
3. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) - ALA is found in flaxseed and chia seeds, and is converted into EPA and DHA in the body. While ALA is important for overall health, it is not as effective as EPA and DHA at reducing inflammation and supporting brain and eye health.
We now know that marine based omega-3 is the best for cats and dogs (and we would say people too).
One of the primary benefits of feeding your pet’s fresh fish is that it is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish that are usually recommended for pets include salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies, herring, arctic charr, and mackerel. These fish are all high in healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. Feeding these fish to your pets can lower the risk of developing heart disease, kidney disease and cancer.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to promote healthy skin and coat in cats and dogs. A diet rich in omega-3 can help alleviate skin allergies, excess shedding, and dry skin, which can contribute to fur matting. Regularly including fish in your pet's diet can give them a healthy and shiny coat.
Omega-3 fatty acids play a significant role in maintaining cognitive function and brain development. Omega-3 helps nourish the brain and supports cognitive health, helping pets remain sharp, focused, and mentally alert. A healthy brain does a great job at regulation for balance in the body.
In addition to these benefits, regular intake of omega-3 can help reduce inflammation, which can lead to reduced pain, discomfort, and improved mobility in pets with arthritis or joint pain.
We recommend fresh fish because there is a balance in nature that we cannot replicate with concentrates (like fish oil supplements). Whole fish (canned or fresh frozen) had a natural balance of vitamin E, selenium and other micronutrients. Fish oil supplements are susceptible to oxidation when exposed to air, light, and heat. It can cause rancidity of the oil and turn it into harmful compounds.
If you opt for omega 3 from fish oil instead of whole fish, the brand and container your fish oil is in is important! We currently recommend Wellytail's fish oils, if you are unable to use canned or frozen fish, as they use a human grade container that doesn’t allow light or oxygen into the bottle. We recommend storing in the fridge to keep it away from potential heat. We only recommend using a fish oil supplement that has vitamin E in it to help as an antioxidant (it can help offset the free radicals – a damaging molecule that occurs with oxidation of the fats). Given the choice, we always choose fresh as the balance that is naturally present is better than our best guesses at processed compounds.
Making sure your cat or dog gets fresh fish in their diet at least twice a week can significantly benefit their overall health. Including omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can improve their cognitive function, promote healthy skin and coat, reduce inflammation and lower the risk of diseases. So go ahead, add a bit of fish to your pet's diet and watch them glow with health!