Bad fat? Good Fat? Essential fat? What? A Balanced Approach: Essential Fatty Acids for Happy, Healthy Pets

Bad fat? Good Fat? Essential fat? What?  A Balanced Approach: Essential Fatty Acids for Happy, Healthy Pets

Just like humans, animals need good nutrition to stay healthy and avoid getting sick. Whenever possible we want to ensure their raw food they are receiving is as complete as possible over time. When that is not easily done, giving animals supplements has been shown to prevent and cure diseases. One important nutrient is essential fatty acids (EFAs) and they must come from food because the body cannot make them.

EFAs were first discovered when researchers found that animals missing certain fats had growth problems, skin sores, organ failure, fertility issues, and other problems that eventually led to death. Since then, scientists have studied how EFAs work in the body, why they are essential, and the potential benefits of giving EFA supplements to promote health and prevent disease.

EFAs are part of cell membranes and help cells function properly. They are also used by enzymes to make hormone-like compounds called eicosanoids, which control important functions like blood clotting, inflammation, blood pressure, and immune response.

The main EFAs are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in vegetable oils, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) found in evening primrose and borage oils, and EPA and DHA found in fish oils. Many studies have looked at using these oils as treatments in animals for skin and coat health, joint and skin inflammation, diabetes, obesity, and other diseases.

Skin and Coat Health

Pets like cats and dogs often develop skin problems due to lack of EFAs. Giving EFA supplements can help reduce skin inflammation, eczema, and other skin issues. Cats lack an enzyme to make certain EFAs, so they must get GLA and EPA from their diet. Evening primrose oil has been shown to improve crusty skin conditions in cats.

Using oils high in EFAs like sunflower and borage oil topically can also improve dry, flaky skin in animals.

Allergies and Joint Issues 

EFA supplements can reduce inflammation from allergies and the need for steroids in animals with allergic skin conditions. They can also help decrease allergic reactions during allergy testing.

For arthritic conditions, EFAs provide similar benefits as in humans by reducing inflammation in the joints. A lack of omega-3s has been linked to bone development issues in large breed dogs.

Other Benefits

EFAs are important for proper growth, especially in kittens. They also play a role in reproductive health and preventing premature births.

Adding EFAs to animal feed can increase milk production and quality in dairy cows. Enriching chicken feed with EFAs like omega-3s can increase the healthy fat content of eggs.

Some studies suggest EFAs may help combat cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other conditions in pets, similar to their effects in humans.

Ensuring pets get adequate EFAs through diet or supplements can promote overall health, especially for skin, coat, allergies, joints, growth, and reproduction. An EFA deficiency can lead to various health issues over time. While more research is still needed, EFA supplementation shows promise for preventing and treating many different animal diseases and conditions. You can check out some of those from here. 

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