Omega 3 for Cats: Benefits, Dosage, Side-effects and Best Supplements

omega 3 for cats

Is omega 3 good for cats? Well, the actual question should rather be “Why is omega 3 good for cats?” According to Jean Hofve, DVM, a Holistic Veterinarian based in Denver, Colorado, omega 3 fatty acid is the “most important supplement you can give your pet”. From joint pain alleviation to coat health, the benefits of omega 3 to cats are far-reaching. Read on to discover more about using omega 3 for cats health.

Benefits and Uses of Omega 3 for Cats Health

For optimal health, cats require both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Omega 6 promotes inflammation, but omega 3 lessens it. This is to mean that too much omega 6 in the body can be problematic as it can result in excessive inflammation. Deficiency in Omega 3 has been found to be the underlying cause of various problems in cats. Unfortunately most pet foods and treats have low levels of omega-3 and higher level of omega 6.

Most cats will therefore benefit from supplementation with omega 3. There are three main omega 3 fatty acids: Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and DHA omegas 3s can be synthesized from ALA, but the rate at which this happens is so low that they have to be obtained from a cat’s diet.

Among the benefits you can reap from using omega 3 fatty acids for cats’ supplementation are:

Omega 3 Promotes Joint Health

Omega 3 fatty acids supplementation is perhaps best known for alleviation of the joint pain and inflammation associated arthritis in cats and dogs. The beneficial anti-inflammatory effect of omega 3 is attributed to EPA.

It Helps To Keep the Skin and Coat Healthy

You have probably come across a site recommending the use of omega 3 for cats’ dry skin and shedding (read more on cat dandruff). They were right. Omega 3 will not only helps to keep your cat’s coat shiny but also reduce shedding and the appearance of hairballs.

Omega 3 Helps to Reduce Allergy Symptoms

Supplements rich in Omega 3 fatty acid help to reduce inflammation caused by allergies and itching caused by flea bites.

Omega 3 Helps in Brain and Eyesight Development

The DHA in omega 3 supplements has been shown to play an important role in brain and eye development in kittens. You may thus consider supplementing your cat with omega 3 during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. This omega 3 fatty acid can also help to keep the brains of older cats functioning at their optimum for longer.

It Helps to Boost Immunity

Omega 3 supplementation can also help cats with weakened immune system. This is especially true of older cats which tend to be prone to inflammation and infections.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Promotes Heart Health

The anti-inflammatory benefits of EPA to the heart presents another reason to use omega 3 for cats’ supplementation. Studies have in particular supported the use of omega 3 fatty acids for reduction of blood pressure and prevent ventricular arrhythmias in cats and dogs.

It Can Help Slow Down Cancer

Veterinarians are increasingly recommending omega 3 for cats with cancers. This follows a study which showed that omega 3 in fish oils may slow the development of cancer cells.

Best Omega 3 for Cats

Now that you know the benefits of supplementing your cat with omega 3 fatty acids, the sea of options out there in as far as omega 3 fatty acids sources is concerned may baffle you.

For starters, you want to focus on rich sources of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). These are the long-chain fatty acids that constitute for the much of the anti-inflammatory and healing properties.

According to Dr. Tudor, the best source of omega 3 fatty acids for cats is marine fish oil. Unlike flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, and soybean oil, fish oil contains these fatty acids in a preformed state. It is thus not necessary for the body to convert Alpha-linoleic Acid (ALA) to EPA and DHA first. Such is the case with flaxseeds and other plant sources of omega 3.

Feeding EPA and DHA in their preformed state is especially important for old cats – older than 6 years – who are usually less capable to digest fats.

With the knowledge that marine fish oil is the best source of omega 3 for cats, it is still important to know that not all products are created equally. You need to go for a product that is manufactured from wild salmon or sardine fish oil.

Adding Fish Oil to Your Cat’s Food

Adding salmon or sardines to your cat’s diet will do wonders, but you may as well consider using one of the various omega 3 supplements for cats. Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet is one of the most popular, and probably the best product. It is manufactured from wild Anchovies and sardines and is suitable for cats as well as small breeds of dogs. It is available in the form of soft gels (capsules).

Some cat foods claim to contain omega 3 fatty acids, but these are usually in very low quantities – thanks to the manufacturing process – as to be of any significant benefit to your feline companion.

Krill Oil for Omega 3 Supplementation in Cats

Krill oil is a great alternative to fish oil as a source of EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids and is growing fast in popularity. It is obtained from minute shrimp-like crustaceans called krill. The supplements are available in the form of small capsules (soft gels).

All you have to do is puncture a capsule of this omega 3 fatty acids source into your cat’s food. Note however that some cats find the taste of krill oil nasty. In that case, introduce her gradually starting with a few drops of the oil, then work your way up.

Should You Give Cod Liver Oil To Cats?

Cod liver oil is a popular source of EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids. It can indeed supply your cat with the same, but should you decide to go that route, you need to exercise caution. Cod liver oil carries the risk of vitamin A and D toxicity, which can then lead to kidney damage. Ensure that the product you go for doesn’t have added vitamins.

Omega 3 for Cats Dosage

Now, how much omega 3 per day should you give to your cat? Well, the appropriate dosage for omega 3 will vary depending on your cat’s weight. Specific products come with specific dosage instruction, but a general guideline is provided in the chart below courtesy of Nordic naturals:

omega 3 for cats dosage

Side Effects of Omega 3 Supplementation in Cats

You should exercise caution and follow directions when using omega 3 for cats’ supplementation. As with any supplement, an overdose of omega 3 fatty acids can have adverse effects on your furry friend. Here as some of these side-effects:

  • Vitamin E deficiency: Overdose of EPA and DHA can cause peroxidation, a phenomenon where free radicals attack lipids leading to a deficiency of vitamin E.
  • Obesity: Omega 3 overdose can cause excessive weight gain in cats.
  • Loose stools: Cats with a history of gastrointestinal (GI) problems are particularly vulnerable to stomach upsets as a result of overdose.
  • Slow blood clotting. Omega 3 fatty acids may decrease the ability of platelets to clump together and hence hamper the natural blood clotting process. The use omega 3 for cats’ supplementation is, in this regards, not recommended if your purring friend is on any blood thinning medications.
  • Fishy breath. A cat on supplementation with omega 3 fatty acids may start giving off a fish-like breath. This is usually an indication of overdose. If it happens, reduce the dose.

References

Littlebigcat.com: Choosing an Omega-3 Oil for Your Pet

PetCareRx: Fish Oil for Dogs and Cats – The Benefits of Omega 3 for Pets

Peteducation.com: Omega Fatty Acids: Sources, Effects & Therapeutic Uses in Cats

PetMD:  Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Arthritis in Cats

The Conscious Cat: The Benefits of Omega-3 Supplementation for Cats

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