Piece of fish on a wooden cutting board image - Omega Fatty Acids

Find Out What These Essential Nutrients Can Do for Your Dog or Cat’s Health

Just like it’s important for us to have Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids in our diet as part of a balanced plan, it’s key for your dog or cat to have these nutrients as well.

What are Omega fatty acids?

Omega fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), a type of healthy fat that’s an important calorie source for your pet.

You may have read about fish oils when digging into information about omega fatty acids. That’s because fatty fish—like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and anchovies—are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids (for humans and animals). Think back to how your dog’s or cat’s ancestors ate. They may have hunted and fished for food and that’s why these foods are so good for them and an important component of a modern pet’s diet.

What do Omega fatty acids do for dogs and cats?

Omega fatty acids can be delivered from a variety of sources on the ingredient list. Here’s a breakdown of some of the ingredients that deliver these powerful nutrients, as well as how they help your pet’s health.

Omega-3s are typically delivered through fish ingredients such as salmon oil, salmon meal or real deboned salmon. Another common source of Omega-3s is flaxseed. These fatty acids can help with your pet’s coat and skin health by keeping skin hydrated and preventing it from drying out [1]. The omega-3 fats from fish oils tend to decrease inflammatory processes in the body, according to research from the American Veterinary Medical Association.  

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an Omega-3 fatty acid that helps with the development of primary structural components in the brain’s cerebral cortex, overall brain function, and the skin and retina [2]. It’s essential for kittens [3] and puppies to have a diet that contains DHA [4].  

This is why at Merrick our puppy and kitten recipes, like the Healthy Grains Puppy Recipe or our Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Healthy Kitten Recipe, contain high levels of DHA to support healthy brain development.

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is another component of omega-3 fatty acids. It is commonly found in cold water fatty fish, such as salmon.  
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an omega-3 fatty acid that is commonly found in plant based ingredients such as flaxseed.

Omega-6s are typically delivered through animal meat or fat sources such as sunflower oil. These fatty acids are essential to keep your pet’s skin healthy.

  • Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, helps promote healthy skin. Deficiencies in omega-6 have been linked to abnormalities in physiological processes in the body [5].

How can my pet get Omega fatty acids?

One of the best—and tastiest—ways for your cat or dog to get adequate sources of these crucial nutrients is through their pet food. High-quality pet food companies, like Merrick Pet Care, ensure its dry recipes include Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids, which helps your pet’s skin and coat stay healthy. At Merrick, the majority of our pet food, including our entire Grain Free Dry dog food line, is high in Omega fatty acids to support your pet’s overall health. Sometimes our puppy and kitten recipes are enriched with DHA and EPA for more health benefits.

Ask your veterinarian if your dog or cat should take an omega fatty acid supplement as part of his diet, or, if eating a high-quality pet food will deliver the nutrients and benefits they need.