Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fatty Acids, Beneficial for our Pets : Family Pet Veterinary Center

As seen in?West Des Moines Living Magazine,?November 2012 issue.

Fatty acids are used to help with?arthritis, allergies, cardiovascular diseases, geriatric health, skin and coat, optimal neurological development, kidney treatment, thyroid disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, and cancer therapies in pets and people.

They are part of the barrier function of skin, essential for?neurological?and sight tissues, and maintain the normal inflammatory response.

There are two main types of fatty acids: Omega 6 and Omega 3.? Both types are used within the body, but pets and people naturally consume plenty of omega 6?s on a daily basis. Omega 3s counteract omega 6s.? Ideally we would strive for a balance of these two types, but since omega 6s are plentiful, we need to take in extra omega 3s as they reduce inflammation within the body.? The specific omega 3 fatty acid forms EPA and DHA are the beneficial types as long as they are in an absorbable form.

Where can we get these? Traditionally fatty acids were obtained from fish oil capsules.? Due to multiple reasons fish oil capsules are not the source from which to get the beneficial effects of EPA and DHA listed above.

According to Dr. Kwochka?consideration of the source of fish oil has multiple factors:

1)?? Wild salmon have historically been the primary type of fish used for fatty acids because of their high fat content. However, as they have been over fished, quantities have declined as has the fat content of the fish. Additionally, heavy metal toxicity is more of a concern with larger predator fish further up in the food chain.

2)?? Farm-raised salmon have also become popular to address the dismissing wild population. However, concerns include higher levels of PCBs, higher levels of parasites such as sea lice, chemicals to give the fish color, pellets of chicken feces, corn meal, soy, etc., antibiotics at high levels, less omega 3?s due to lack of wild diet, crowding into small areas inhibiting movement, etc.

3)?? A more satisfactory option for source of fish oil appears to be the use of wild, non-predatory smaller and more easily renewable high fat comment species such as anchovies and sardines.

4)?? To address at least some of the above concerns, fish oils should be fully tested for heavy metals (especially PCBs, mercury and dioxins) and microbial content. Some of these standards have been set by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, World Health Organization, and the FDA. Every batch of fish oil product (diet or supplement) should be tested for EPA and DHA levels. Simply reporting total amount of fish oil or total amount of omega 3?s doesn?t tell one much about the most critical components.

These are real problems for interpreting labels as there is no regulatory requirement to list individual omega 3 components and AAFCO does not recognize them as essential nutrients in their Dog Food Nutrient Profiles. The form of fish oil is also usually not specified. They are usually triglycerides that have been chemically processed for stability, but are less than 30% absorbable.? Thus a product that says it has specific amounts of fatty acids often does not have them in an absorbable form.? Other times people may find flax as a source which is not absorbed well by our pets. Fish oil is also prone to oxidation and loss of activity making testing very important to prove stability.? Another concern is dose. To get the beneficial effects, a 100 pound dog needs 2300-3400mg of JUST the EPA to be absorbed per day!? If the over the counter products are accurate on the absorbable level of EPA or have it even listed specifically, many times the volume to be administered is unrealistic.? Recently a client brought in a bottle for evaluation: the 85 lb pet would have had to have twenty extra large fish oil capsules per day to get close to the same benefits as the purified form. Talk about fish breath!

EPA is just one of the methods to help pets. Please visit us to learn how this piece can work with other therapies to reduce allergy flare ups, manage arthritis and pain, and protect organs. It is great that we have this along with other modalities for a safe alternative to therapies for painful arthritic pets. Pets with other medical problems now have safer options for treatment! For more information, contact Family Pet Veterinary Center at or call us: 515-224-9750


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