We all want the very best for our pets, so it’s only natural that we want to know about the ingredients in the food they’re eating to make sure they’re getting the very best nutrition.
One of the ingredients in our K9 Natural Oils range, our Pet Milks and Feline Natural and K9 Natural core diets is flaxseed Oils. These superb little offerings are the richest food source of the short chain Omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
So why is ALA important? ALA is an essential fatty acid for our pups and kitty cats, meaning they must get it from their diet. Flaxseeds also provide significant amounts of both soluble and insoluble fibre; and are the richest dietary source of lignans - polyphenols known for their anti-cancer and antioxidant properties, which is why we have included New Zealand cold-pressed Flaxseed Oil in our K9 Natural Hip & Joint Health Oil, Skin & Coat Health Oil and Brain & Eye Health Oil so your pet can get all benefits of this nutritional powerhouse.
But if you’ve ever done your own research on flaxseed oil, there’s a good chance you’ve become overwhelmed with all the conflicting advice out there about whether we should or shouldn’t be feeding it to our four-legged friends. With so much information floating around, we decided to debunk some of the common myths with the help of our in-house nutritionist.
Myth: Seed oils aren’t appropriate for cats and dogs.
False! Oils are often used to supplement or add fatty acids to a pet’s diet as they offer a lot of benefits. Flaxseed, in particular is an excellent supplement for dogs and cats with allergies.
The short chain Omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in flaxseed oils plays a significant role in both skin and hair health, helping to maintain the luscious coats of your beloved pet. In addition, combined with the lignans also found in flaxseeds, ALA is thought to bestow compelling anti-inflammatory effects and reduce skin inflammatory responses. Its supplementation is therefore often recommended as a tool in the skin maintenance programs of pets with atopic dermatitis, an all too common and uncomfortable affliction.
Myth: Adding more Omega 6 from seed oils is inflammatory, as the canine and feline diet is out of balance of Omega 6 and Omega 3.
To debunk this myth, first we need to look at why a ratio of Omega 6’s and Omega 3’s are important.
Generally, canine, feline, and human diets are out of balance of the Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio. We can see ratios of anything up to 30:1, when less than 5:1 is considered ideal. So just as important as the amount of individual Omega 3s, is the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3. An excess of Omega 6 fatty acids will promote chronic inflammation, which can lead to conditions such as arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.
The conversion of alpha linolenic acid to the longer chain Omega 3 fatty acids like DHA is not very efficient, and so we add fish oil to all of our oil blends to add EPA and DHA directly. In addition to the health benefits of DHA, there is currently a lot of research showing the anti-inflammatory effects of alpha linolenic acid itself, without it needing to be converted to DHA and EPA by the body. Flaxseed Oil is a great source of alpha linolenic acid, the best natural source of it.
Gamma linolenic acid, present in Borage Oil (included in our Skin & Coat Health Oil), is part of the Omega 6 fatty acid family. It has been shown to decrease inflammation by competing against the production of pro-inflammatory substances in the body, after its conversion to dihomo-gamma linolenic acid in the body.
While Omega 6 fatty acids are essential for a functioning immune system, and a healthy skin and coat, we recognise the importance of reducing the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 in our range. All of our oil blends contain more total Omega 3 than total Omega 6, and contain at least 37% total Omega 3 fatty acids, and minimum of 10% total Omega 6 fatty acids. K9 Natural and Feline Natural core diets have one of the best Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratios in pet food available!
Myth: My pet doesn’t need a supplement as he’s eating a complete & balanced diet already.
It’s important to remember that depending on your pet’s breed, size, activity level and age, they will have their own unique nutrition needs. Supplements can help to really supercharge your pet’s meal and help support specific areas– such as joint health or skin and coat health. Not only will our K9 Natural oils boost the nutritional value of their meal, but it’s also a great way to entice picky eaters!
All our oil blends are designed as a supplementary product, to be used to boost an already complete and balanced diet.
Myth: Animal sourced Omega 3 oils are better for cats and dogs.
The short chain Omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is found in plant-based origins, and flaxseeds are the richest food source. ALA is an essential fatty acid for our pups and kitty cats, meaning they must get it from their diet. DHA and EPA fatty acids, also essential in their diet, can be found in animals such as oily fish, seafood and grass-fed meats.
So, plant-based supplements will give your dog access to one form of Omega 3s while animal-based sources like fish oil contain another.
It's important that your dog is getting all three forms of Omega 3s, and happily, our K9 Natural Health Oils all contain a combination of fish and flaxseed oils.
Thanks for joining us on what has been a super deep dive into the world of flaxseeds and Omega 3s! We hope this has helped answer some commonly asked questions about flaxseeds, but if you have any other queries, we’re always happy to help answer them.