Demystifying omegas: food for thought

Our pets are integral members of our family. They provide us with endless hours of love and happiness, so the least we can do in return is make sure they feel healthy and happy! But, despite our best intentions it can be difficult to know whether their diet is providing them with the right nutrients.

One of the most important considerations in your pet’s overall wellbeing is their intake of omega fatty acids. Chances are you have already heard people talk about omega fatty acids and the role they play in your pet’s health and wellbeing.

But, what does that mean? What kinds of omega fatty acids do you need to feed your pet, and why?

What kinds of omega fatty acids do you need to feed your pet, and why?

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential nutrients for all animals to support normal growth and wellbeing, and for the prevention of several diseases [1]. The use of fatty acid supplements has proved beneficial in the treatment of several conditions, such as chronic inflammatory diseases, allergies, chronic renal insufficiency, and some types of cancer [1].

As humans, we sometimes supplement our own diets because for whatever reason, we are not consuming or producing enough of a given nutrient. It’s exactly the same with cats and dogs. Omega fatty acids need to be present in their diet, because they cannot produce them themselves.

Some fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, DHA and EPA, are essential for all animals. However, cats and dogs also have some specific requirements for certain fatty acids which must be present in their diet. Dogs need Alpha-Linoleic acid (ALA) as well as a good amount of DHA and EPA as they are particularly inefficient at producing this themselves. Cats on the other hand need Arachidonic acid, as unlike many other animals, cats are unable to produce this fatty acid themselves.

Fats and oils are an important part of the diet for all animals because they:

  • Provide energy
  • Form membranes of all cells
  • Help the body to absorb vitamins, such as A, D, E and K [2]
  • Control hormones [3]
  • Play a fundamental role in inflammation [4]

So, how do you know if your pet is getting these essential nutrients in their food currently?

Well, linoleic acid is present in foods like sunflower oil, canola oil and chicken fat, and cat and dog foods are often rich in these ingredients and therefore provide good levels of linoleic acid.

On the other hand, pet foods are often low in ALA, DHA, EPA, and Arachidonic acid, which help with skin condition, heart and brain health, and help support the animals immune system [5]. In particular, our pets often aren’t getting enough DHA and EPA, as these are typically found in fish and seafood and are therefore not always a part of the pet’s diet.

Our four legged family members cannot tell us what they need, so it is important that we consider them just as much as any other member of the family, and make sure they have the right nutrients in their diet to help them feel their best.

An optimal ratio of omega-6 / omega-3 fatty acids is about 6 to 1, for cats and dogs. Several studies have actually shown that in addition to the benefits already mentioned, this optimal ratio in the diet of pets may reduce the incidence of some diseases, such as cancer and sudden cardiac death [1].

With all that in mind, let’s break down the facts. We reviewed a range of different dog and cat foods, from those found in the supermarket through to those foods you would find in your local vet clinic, to find out a bit more about their fatty acid content.

We looked specifically for the EPA and DHA content in the dog foods and found that, even in the most high-end foods, at most they were only able to meet roughly 50% of recommended daily requirements.

Our research clearly showed that the fatty acids found in different pet foods can be widely varied

Our research clearly showed that the fatty acids found in different pet foods can be widely varied, making it difficult to know if your pet is getting the right nutrients, and in the right ratios.

One solution could be to try and change your cat or dog’s food, but that is easier said than done. Once you have found a food which your pet likes and which keeps them satisfied, you may be reluctant to move them away from that food. It can also be an expensive process to try different types of food, particularly if your pet is a fussy eater.

It can be difficult to understand the nutritional information on the back of cat or dog food and to put this into the context of what the animal actually requires, especially if you are trying to make sense of it in the middle of a shop. This means that even if you do change your pets food, you might still be wondering if you have done the right thing.

Our findings suggest that even if you change your pets food, they may still be missing some of the vital fatty acids that they need.    

In order to avoid this, incorporating supplements in your pet’s diet is the best way to know with confidence that you are providing them with the right kind of nutrition, and letting them live life to its fullest.

Our Vitality Plus products have been specifically and carefully formulated to complement your pet’s diet and support their overall health and wellbeing. This means that you can have certainty that your beloved pet will be getting all the right fatty acids included in their diet.

By introducing essential fatty acids in the form of supplements, your pet can continue eating the food they enjoy, and you can have the peace of mind that they are indeed getting the best nutrition available to them.

Supplements are a zero-disruption way to incorporate the correct fatty acids for your canine or feline companion, giving them the best possible life with you. After all, we all want our pets to spend as much time in our lives as possible!


[1] – Biagi, Giacomo & Mordenti, Attilio & Cocchi, Massimo. (2004). The role of dietary omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids in the nutrition of dogs and cats: A review. Progress in Nutrition. 6. 0-0.

[2] – Meade E.A., Jones D.A., Zimmerman G.A., McIntyre T.M., Prescott S.M. (1996) Prostaglandins and Related Compounds Lipid Messengers with Many Actions. In: Bell R.M., Exton J.H., Prescott S.M. (eds) Lipid Second Messengers. Handbook of Lipid Research, vol 8. Springer, Boston, MA.

[3] – Merrill Jr, Alfred H., and Dennis C. Liotta. “Lipids as hormones and second messengers.” Current Opinion in Structural Biology 1, no. 4 (1991): 516-521.

[4] – Kiecolt-Glaser, Janice K., Ronald Glaser, and Lisa M. Christian. “Omega-3 fatty acids and stress-induced immune dysregulation: implications for wound healing.” Military medicine 179, no. suppl_11 (2014): 129-133.

[5] – Lands, Bill. “Dietary omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids compete in producing tissue compositions and tissue responses.” Military medicine 179, no. suppl_11 (2014): 76-81.