A few people asked me if flax seed was a good substitute instead of fish on my recent post about adding omega-3’s to your pet’s food. The answer to this is: no.
What are the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids? “Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for cognitive function (brain memory and performance)” (University of Maryland). Omega-3’s also help alleviate allergies, yeast infections, and other forms of inflammation.
Fish, or properly sourced fish oils, contain omega-3 fatty acids. Flax, chia, and hemp seeds also contain fatty acids. Here is the difference: fish contains the Omega 3’s; EPA and DHA, while flax, chia, and hemp seeds contain ALA. Dogs do not effectively make the conversion of ALA to DHA, they only convert around 20%.
Dogs need DHA to balance the abundance of omega-6 fatty acids in pet food, which reduces inflammation. Therefore plant-based omega-3’s aren’t able to provide the benefits that marine-based sources do. Omega-3’s are essential to your pets diet and need to be added in.