Gut microbiome and Omega 3 in Dogs

It is well established that for people and pets having a good functioning intestine and enough Omega 3 in your diet is essential for optimal wellbeing. The complex community of bacteria and other microorganisms in the gut is called the microbiome. The good bacteria in the gut are essential for optimal health because they aid digestion, support the immune system, produce 80% of the bodies serotonin, produce Vitamin K and B Vitamins, crowd out harmful bacteria, produce short chain fatty acids such as Butyrate and produce enzymes.
Having a poorly functioning gut microbiome may lead to intestinal disease, behavioural problems, allergies, obesity, liver disease and diabetes mellitus. Therefore, many Veterinary Surgeons and Doctors now advise a supplement that contains both probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are the good gut bacteria such as Enterococcus Faecium, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Prebiotics are the soluble fibres such as galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) that provide nourishment to help maintain probiotic levels.
Omega 3 supplements for dogs are important to your pet's health in ways you'd never expect. High levels of Omega 3 fatty acids Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) play an important role in the healthy functioning of the brain, heart, joints, skin, eyes, immune system and coat. DHA supplementation supports healthy brain function in dogs and a new study by Dr Ragen McGowan at the latest Purina research summit found that Omega 3 fatty acids may be the key to reducing anxiety in dogs. The study found that in addition to the other ways that Omega 3s can help your dog, it can also decrease anxiety. Out of 24 Labrador Retrievers studied, 21 of those or 87% showed a reduction in cortisol levels and lowered heart rate in situations designed to induce anxiety.
This natural alternative could mean a breakthrough in both behavioural training and a reduction in the dose and side effects caused by common medications.
Indications for Omega 3 supplementation include.
Cardiovascular health, neurological support, to improve skin and coat condition, joint support, dry flaky skin, hair loss, a dull coat, sensitive skin and itching or scratching.
Today's pet foods tend to be missing these important omega-3 fatty acids. To make matters worse, manufacturers tend to not supplement commercial pet foods with the Omega-3s your pet can actually use. Even if they do, the heat from the canning or kibbling process typically destroys their health benefits. Not only are Omega-3s sensitive to heat, but they also become rancid when exposed to oxygen for extended periods.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 are both very important and need to be in the diet in the correct ratio. A lot of supplements contain Omega 3 and Omega 6 however, Omega 6 creates Arachidonic acid which is pro-inflammatory and animals tend to be getting enough or in some cases way too much Omega 6 from modern food processes which use vegetable oils to stabilise the foods. This means that the ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 can be incorrect which can effectively create an inflammatory cascade. In humans, the correct ratio of Omega 6 to 3 should be around 5:1 but in many Western human diets it is like 15:1 which is far too high, therefore humans need supplementation with Omega 3. The correct ratio in dogs has not been scientifically established but it is probably around 4:1-5:1 if you look at the ratio in prey animals.
My advice for an Omega 3 supplement for dogs is that it contains high levels of EPA, 540 mg and DHA, 360mg, the importance of high doses of EPA/DHA is becoming increasingly understood in this sector. A recent report by John E. Bauer published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association Dec 1, 2011, investigates the evidence available for the use of EPA/DHA and points to the fact that high doses of EPA/DHA are required. The Omega 3 supplement must contain an anti-oxidant such as Vitamin E to prevent the fatty acids from oxidising and it should come from krill or small fish such anchovy, sardines or pollock which contain less heavy metals. Vegetable-derived oils, including olive oil, do not contain EPA and DHA, but rather the less bioavailable, inactive precursor form, Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which must first be converted to EPA and DHA by special enzymes. Cats genetic makeup severely limits them from converting ALA into EPA and DHA. For them, plant-based omega-3 fatty acids are not absorbable.
For optimal health and wellbeing, we strongly advise  a fibre supplement for dogs that contains both a probiotic and a prebiotic such as our Holistic Doggie Fibre and an Omega 3 such as our Holistic Doggie Omega supplement daily. Justine has also had some good feedback from her clients after their dogs were started on these two supplements alongside a dog training program. This is because the gut is connected to the brain via the vagus nerve which is the brain calming Parasympathetic Nervous System.
Dr Paul Boland BVSc MRCVS & Justine Shone
JP Holistic Nutrition

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