Recommended Omega-3 and Omega-6 Ratio for Pets


Fatty acids are specific types of unsaturated fats that are often needed to be supplemented to pets for optimal health because animals can produce some of the fatty acids but not all of them. The two main classes of fatty acids are the Omega-3 fatty acids and the Omega-6 fatty acids.  The difference between between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are based on molecular structure.  Research is ongoing about what the proper ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids should be consumed for optimal benefits.

Current recommendations for pets suggest an Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of approximately 10:1 to 5:1 be consumed. Since most pet foods contain much more Omega-6 fatty acids than Omega-3 fatty acids, many pet food companies have added Omega-3 fatty acids to try and compensate for this difference.  However, the cooking and processing of most commercial pet foods does destroy some of the fatty acid content. Also in many allergic and inflammatory conditions of the body, adding supplemental fatty acids can help in the management/prevention of many disease conditions.  Examples of Omega-3 fatty acids include ALA, EPA and DHA.  Examples of Omega-6 fatty acids include LA, GLA, DGLA, and Arachidonic acid.

Both types of fatty acids can help in many diseases, however, fatty acid supplementation rich in the Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA and the Omega-6 fatty acid GA seem to be the most effective for many of these conditions.   Among the various diseases potentially helped by these acids include allergies and autoimmune conditions, heart disease, joint problems,  coat and skin problems, central nervous system disorders, as well as many cancers.

There are numerous brands of fatty acid supplements with different quantities of vitamins, minerals and these fatty acids. Among the excellent products I have used include Nordic Natural Pet Omega-3 or Super Pure Omega 3 supplement, as well as Be Well fatty acid supplement.    It is suggested that for conditions such as allergic skin disease that a 2-3 month trial with a good fatty acid supplement that is rich in EPA, DHA, GLA, vitamin E and/or the Omega-6 fatty acid LA be used. Fatty acid supplements should also be fortified with Vitamin E as well.   This ratio of fatty acids will differ from product to product, so if a trial with one fatty acid supplement does not work after an adequate period of time, it may be beneficial to try another one.

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  2. Thanks for the nice blog. It was very useful for every one. Keep sharing such ideas in the future as well.

  3. i need some advice on dogs licking their paws

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  5. That’s great information, thanks. It coincides with what they say on petfoodratings ( but with more information on how it can harm a dog in excess. I’m writing a thesis on feeding raw to dogs, so do you have any suggestions on how omega fats can be gauged when feeding a home made diet? Thanks.

  6. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 10, 2014 at 12:49 am

    I dont have much specific information on this but would check with books on the topic, including the New book Palaeo Dog by Celeste Yarnell, phd, due to come out in a few months, and available on line

  7. Thanks for this article however it does not address my concern. As humans it is recommended that we have twice as much Omega 3 vs Omega 6. Too much Omega 6 can lead to inflammatory illnesses and cancer. Today a number of animals have more inflammatory illness and dogs are getting cancer at an increased number than when I was a young. Why are dogs getting a much higher amount of Omega 6 than Omega 3 in their foods? You list the recommended ratio but I want to know more and why.

  8. Hi Debra-Jean, and thanks for your question! For any medical concerns, we always recommend you consult your veterinarian. However, for non-emergency questions, you can contact holistic vet Dr. Dym directly using our Ask the Vet form.
    ~ Abby, PetMeds Pro

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