Dog Allergies – Fatty Acids

Fatty acids come in two varieties, omega-6 and omega-3.  Omega-6 fatty acids are contained in vegetable oils.  They are generally used to correct defects in the lipid barrier of skin damaged by allergies.  Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and flaxseed, are best known for their anti-inflammatory effects.  Since most dogs with allergies can benefit from both, I usually choose a product that combines omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.  The only exception is with dog’s whose main problem is dry skin and scaling (dandruff).  In those animals I will use strictly omega-6 fatty acids.

Before you start your dog on fatty acids, talk to your veterinarian.  I don’t use fatty acids in dogs who have a history of pancreatitis or in breeds that are prone to pancreatitis.  Also, be careful with fatty acids in dogs with digestive problems as diarrhea may result.  Some dogs require therapy for two months before any improvement is observed.  

One last tip, never used expired fatty acids.  Look at the bottle before you buy.  Store according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.  Always smell the product, especially omega-6 fish oil, before you administer it.  If it smells bad, don’t give it.  Fish oil, especially, become rancid with improper handling. 

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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