Essential Fatty Acids Supplementation

The following are excerpts from The BARF Diet by Dr. Ian Billinghurst.

"There are two types of of polyunsaturated fatty acids that may need to be added to BARF (Biologically Appropriate Raw Foods). Our pets are unable to make either type. One type is referred to as the Omega 6 essential fatty acids (EFA's) and the other is referred to as the Omega 3 EFA's. Both types of EFA's must be supplied either in the basic diet, or as a supplement. Any lack, or imbalance in, the EFA's will result in disease.

Unfortunately, modern foods commonly lack either one of both types of EFA's, or they may contain an excess of one type with a deficiency of the other. The most common imbalance is an excess of Omega 6's. This commonly produces skin problems, but can also result in a whole range of other inflammatory conditions. The net result is that EFA supplementation of some type is often required, even when feeding a BARF diet.

Fatty acid supplements for dogs may contain either active or inactive EFA's. Inactive EFA's are unable to carry out their vital role without first being converted by your dog to the active form. This conversion can only be carried out by enzymes, which your dog may or may not produce. If your dog does not produce these enzymes for any reason, these inactive essential fatty acids are unable to carry out many of their vital functions. This will lead to ill health.

Supplements which contain the activated Omega 6 EFA's for dogs include Evening Primrose oil, Borage oil and Black Currant oil.

Supplements which contain inactive Omega 6 EFA's include vegetable oils such as safflower oil, sunflower oil and corn oil.

Supplements which contain the activated Omega 3 EFA's include cod liver oil and fish body oils such as Salmon oil.

Supplements which contain the inactive Omega 3 EFA's include flaxseed oil and hemp seed oil. "

"Healthy young dogs may be fed supplements containing inactive essential fatty acids because the enzyme system necessary to activate them are usually fully functional. In other words, supplements containing inactive essential fatty acids will probably work fine in young dogs, but may not work so well in older dogs.

Older dogs and unhealthy dogs and dogs that may have eaten diets high in heat-damaged fats (trans fatty acids, etc.), or dogs that have lost (through inheritance), the ability to convert inactivated essential fatty acids to the activated form, should be supplied with activate essential fatty acids.

Cats can only use activated essential fatty acids and these must be derived from animals, not from plants. All raw meats, but most particularly red meats and eggs, supply cats with all the activated Omega 6 essential fatty acids they need. Cod liver oils and fish body oils are used to supply cats with supplementary Omega 3's, if required."

"Containing excessive levels of the Omega 6 EFA's is one of the most common problems seen with modern foods. Pets consuming excessive Omega 6 EFA's will suffer conditions of excessive inflammation (as seen in many degenerative diseases), vaso-constriction (constriction of blood vessels causing high blood pressure), broncho-constriction (constriction of airways causing airway disease) and platelet stickiness (producing a tendency to clot which can lead to strokes and heart attacks).

These excessive levels of Omega 6 contribute enormously to the production of problems such as arthritis, heart, kidney and lung disease, through to cancer and on to inflammatory skin disease. This situation can be counteracted (in part) by the addition of Omega 3 EFA's to the diet."

A diet that lacks sufficient Omega 3's is arguably THE NUMBER ONE fatty acid associated problem caused by modern processed pet foods. This lack of Omega 3's allows the Omega 6's (if they are present in sufficient quantities) to produce the whole range of problems caused by an excess of Omega 6's. In addition, the lack of Omega 3's can be a potent cause of infertility in our breeding stock together with growth problems in young pups and kittens, and most importantly, problems with the development of the nervous system. This can result in early deterioration of vision and hearing, learning difficulties in puppies and kittens and behavioral problems in our pets that can continue throughout life."

An excess of Omega 3's in the diet is usually caused by an over-supplementation of something like flaxseed oil. The problems likely to be seen will be mostly problems involving a deficiency of Omega 6's. Skin problems will commonly occur first."

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