Beware of Dry Pet Foods with Added Omega-Fatty Acids! Update...
It is definitely true that Omega-3 fatty acids (such as EPA & DHA) offer a long list of health benefits to both pets and people. In fact, omega-3’s provide significant anti-inflammatory benefits, and are well known to support better health for the heart, brain, kidneys, joints, skin & hair coat, and even the gums and oral health too.
Wow! That’s a lot of positive impact for the entire body!
This is why I do recommend a daily quality omega-3 supplement for dogs, cats and people. But we cannot rely on processed foods to deliver these healthy fats to the body safely and effectively.
Because omega-3 fats oxidize quickly, they get rancid (or spoil) within food that is stored for any length of time. These types of fats should be consumed in a fresh form (fresh fish, liquid or capsule). If you do buy fish variety pet foods, it is best to get small bags so that your pet can eat it within a few weeks of opening the bag. Although buying larger bags of food may be more economical, it is definitely not better when it comes to nutritional value.
In fact, significant problems can arise from eating oxidized or spoiled fats. These problems may range from diarrhea and stomach upset, to liver and heart disease, and other cellular damage that leads to cancer and chronic inflammation- such as arthritis. Studies have shown that rancid fats actually reduce the overall nutritive value of the food - by degrading the proteins, vitamins and antioxidants! Geez. We certainly do not want to provide food that may make our pets sick; nor do we want to spend extra money on marketed “high quality” foods, while the good nutrient ingredients are actually being degraded by the extra added omega-3 fats.
When it comes to fish oils, a quality product is very important!
Options for supplementation include many varieties or blends of fish oils (salmon/anchovy/sardine), krill oil, calamari oil, etc, Finding a quality fish oil product is very important. Because our oceans now have high levels of contamination with mercury and other toxins, we have to be very cautious with eating too much fish and choosing the best kinds of fish to eat. In general, the smaller the fish, the less contaminated it is. This makes sardines and anchovies an excellent choice. Krill has many benefits too- but it is becoming over-fished and is not sustainable. Calamari may be a good choice, as it contains the highest concentration of EPA & DHA and is most sustainable as well.
In any regard, it is best to skip the commercially added Omega-3‘s and feed a whole food source or provide a good quality liquid or capsule supplement. Always store fish oil products in the refrigerator. Great food sources include canned sardines packed in spring water, anchovies or wild-caught salmon. These items can be fed 2-4 times per week.