Essential Fatty Acids – The Facts about Fats
Veterinarian Reviewed on May 21, 2011 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Essential Fatty Acids are the fats found in all cell membranes, tissues and organs in the body and regulate nearly every bodily function. Both humans and animals are unable to produce these fats, so they must be obtained from food. Dogs and cats often do not get the daily supply of EFA’s they need, even when on a raw diet. As a result, normal growth and development can suffer. Essential fatty acids help build muscle mass and strong bones and teeth. They nourish the skin, hair, mucous membranes, nerves, thyroid, adrenals and much more. Fatty acids keep the gastrointestinal tract lubricated and aid in smooth, efficient digestion and elimination. They also play a key role in the functioning of the brain, in regulating inflammation and healing, and immune, digestive, reproductive and cardiovascular functions.
The most important of the EFA’s in promoting good heath in animals are the long-chained omega-3s, and the omega-6s.
Omega-3’s have anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulant properties as well as many other important health benefits. They reduce inflammation and help provide protection against disease, arthritis, skin conditions, depression and other mood-related disorders in animals. Omega 3’s are key to maintaining healthy brain, central nervous system, and heart function. They are also important in keeping bones healthy.
Omega-6 maintains healthy skin, hair and nails and generally helps to bring about hormonal and emotional balance. It also has an anti-inflammatory affect. Omega-3 and Omega-6 interact with each other so the balance between them is crucial for good health.
The long chain Omega 3’s are found almost exclusively in fish oil. We prefer deep water, fast moving fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring. A refined fish oil can provide DHA and EPA more safely than by eating the fish itself. The process concentrates the amount of DHA and EPA present while preventing mercury or organic chemical exposure. Borage oil provides the richest source, almost twice as much as any other, of the omega-6, gama-linolenic acid.
Dogs and cats age much more rapidly than humans, so are subject to much faster degenerative processes. The EFA’s reduce that rate of degeneration. Research has shown that supplementing their diets with EFA’s is an effective way to provide these vital nutrients.
Royal Coat EFA Express for Dogs and Cats combines fish and borage oils to provide the right balance of Omega 3’s and 6’s, along with Vitamin A, D and E. It can be used to supplement whatever diet you are feeding.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan