Canine Allergy Management with Fatty Acid Supplements

For many years, pet owners have given fatty acids to their dogs to help improve their skin and coat. Fatty acids can also be used to help manage canine allergies as they’re essential for overall health. Since they can’t be produced naturally in a dog’s body, fatty acids must be supplemented to the dog's diet.

Dog Allergies Explained

Dog can have environmental allergies, contact allergies and food allergies. An allergic reaction occurs when a dog’s immune system overreacts. Signs of a dog with allergies include licking or chewing their paws, watery eyes, obsessive scratching, nasal discharge and breathing problems. Leaving these symptoms untreated can progress into more serious bacterial infections, excessive shedding and hair loss. Food allergies might present themselves with the same symptoms previously mentioned, plus diarrhea or vomiting.

Canine Allergy Management with Fatty Acid Supplements

Fatty acids are vital for the normal function of every organ in a dog’s body, particularly the immune system. There are two types of fatty acids: Omega-3 and Omega-6. The use of fatty acids require a long-term dietary dedication: it’s more of a lifestyle change than a temporary fix. It could take fatty acids up to two months for the supplements to become therapeutic. Despite the slow start, fatty acids induce health benefits that are long lasting because they target allergies and inflammation at a cellular level.

Omega-3 fatty acids include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). A lack of Omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to allergic reactions and degenerative disorders that cause joint inflammations and arthritis. It can also contribute to dry, itchy skin and recurring skin infections. The best source of Omega-3 for dogs comes from cold water fish such as hoki and salmon. However, Omega-3 fatty acids can also come in liquid or capsule form, which can be added to a dog’s food. The side effects associated with the use of Omega-3 fatty acids include indigestion, gas, loose stools, and bad breath.

Omega-6 fatty acids include linoleic acid (LA), gamma linolenic acid (GLA), dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) and arachidonic acid (AA). Omega 6 fatty acids are good supplements for conditions such as allergies, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease. Omega-6 is the only fatty acid that can withstand the high heat in which dry commercial dog food is processed. These fatty acids keep the skin hydrated and create a protective barrier against allergens.

Since most dry commercial dog foods contain plenty of Omega-6 fatty acids, there is little need to supplement a dog’s diet with more of it. Most Omega-6 fatty acids are consumed in a dog’s diet from vegetable oils. Other sources of Omega-6 are found in flaxseeds, vegetable oil, sesame seeds, olive oil, whole grains, poultry, and eggs. Side effects associated with Omega-6 fatty acids include elevated triglyceride levels, diarrhea, a Vitamin E deficiency, and gas.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in your dog’s health, especially if they suffer from allergies. One should talk to a dog’s veterinarian to see what type of fatty acid supplements he recommends.