🦴 Nutrition

How to Know if Your Small Dog's Diet Contains Enough Fatty Acid

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February 22, 2021

Key Takeaways

How to Know if Your Small Dog's Diet Contains Enough Fatty Acid

Does your pet's skin and coat look shiny and healthy, or is your dog's fur lacking the silky appearance you prefer?  Could this indicate the need for more fatty acids in your dog's diet?

A dog's diet affects all aspects of his body including the skin and coat.  If your dog's diet contains adequate amounts of fatty acids, his coat and skin should appear healthy.  Fatty acids in your dog's diet will prevent trouble with dry skin and dandruff, for example.  A dull coat may indicate a need for supplements of fatty acids in your dog's diet.

Studies indicate that essential fatty acids, called EFAs, contribute to healthy skin and coat, as well as general health.  Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, for instance, can play a critical role in your dog's overall well being.

Do not  assume that adding fatty acid supplements to your dog's diet is always a good idea.  If your dog's coat is in good condition, adding more EFAs will not automatically improve health.  The fatty acid supplements, such as omega 3 and 6, are only for dog's with diagnosed skin problems.  Always consult your veterinarian before adding a supplement to your dog's diet.  Your vet will be happy to discuss with you the best form of EFAs and the appropriate dose to add to your dog's diet.

Fatty acids are not produced by your dog's body.  

For this reason, You must provide EFAs to your pet through your dog's diet.  If your vet recommends additional supplements of fatty acids,  you may want to ask about linseed or sunflower oil.

Within as little as four weeks, you should notice an improvement in your dog's coat and skin.  Watch the wonder of fatty acids at work in your dog's diet.  By the time seven weeks have passed, you will notice a dramatic change in your pet's health.

High levels of omega 3 fatty acids are thought to ward off some forms of cancer.  Cardiovascular health and joint health will improve, as well, with higher levels of omega 3 in your dog's diet.

Typically, omega 6 fatty acids are present in manufactured dog food at adequate levels.  Supplementing omega 3 will help to improve the ratio and make the difference for your pet.  Fish and flax seed are excellent sources of omega 3 fatty acids.  Again, be cautious and ask your vet before supplementing.  Some forms of fish may not be safe as part of your dog's diet.

Supplementing your dog's diet may or may not be necessary.  

The only sure way to decide if your dog's diet needs extra essential fatty acids is to schedule an appointment with your vet to talk about your pet's health.  Never medicate your dog without advice from a professional because your dog's diet must contain the proper balance of nutrients.  Sources of EFAs include flaxseed, linseed, and sunflower oil.  Higher doses of essential fatty acids can improve skin and coat issues within several weeks.  Your dog's diet is the first step in providing your overall health and a happy life with your pet for years to come.

Adding Essential Fatty Acids To Your Pets Diet

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are a requirement in everyone's diet, for both human and animal. However, the body cannot produce EFAs on its own, so it must be added to the diet each day. The two most commonly known fatty acids are omega 3 (linoleic acid) and omega 6 (alpha-linoleic acid). The diets of our pets, like people, tend to include more omega 6 fatty acids rather than omega 3. This is an imbalance that needs to be improved upon.

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential as they help with the proper formation of cell membranes, cardiovascular functions, nourish the lining of the digestive tract, and work to keep your pet's skin and coat smooth, soft and shiny. Another essential function of omega 3 fatty acids is that they work to reduce inflammatory problems in the body. If you find your pet's coat is dull and brittle or if he/she tends to have dry skin and scratch a lot, it may be due to a lack of this particular fatty acid.

There are different types of essential fatty acid supplements that are available, however which kind you choose to supplement your dog or cat's diet can be a bit of a dilemma.

Pure plant oils such as flax oil, evening primrose oil, safflower oil or a blend of plant oils is a good alternative to fish omega-3 fats. These should be "cold-pressed" oils, as opposed to oils that are typically extracted with chemical solvents. The problem with plant oils is that animals have a harder time converting the fatty acids to a form best used by the animal's system.

Fish oils, such as salmon oil, halibut liver oil, or cod liver oil are more easily converted and used by an animal's body. The downside is that fish oils often contain deadly toxins, including high levels of dangerous PCBs, dioxins and detectable levels of mercury. Farmed salmon is the worst for contamination and contains less omega 3 acids than wild salmon. At present nearly 30% of all fish are farmed, with salmon being in the 90% farmed range. As well, farmed salmon are often carriers of disease and parasites. When supplementing your pet's diet with fish oils, choose oils that come from wild sources, not farmed.

There are also blended fish and plant oil supplements available. These often include a mixture of salmon or cod liver oil and flax, safflower or other such oils that provide a mixture of 3 to 4 parts omega 3 oils to 1 part omega 6 oils. Giving your animal a combination fish/plant supplement may be a good alternative to consider, as they should contain fewer toxins since they are not strictly fish oils, yet still should be better assimilated by the animal's body than straight plant oils.

Best 7 Fish Oils for Dogs of 2021

Best Overall:

Zesty Paws Pure Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil at Amazon

This premium Salmon Oil is rich with Omega-3 & Omega-6 fatty acid from EPA & DHA, that can help keep skin & coats soft & support the holistic health of your pet.

Best Pill:

Nordic Naturals Omega 3 Pet Soft Gels at Amazon

Award-winning Omega-3 Pet formulas give dogs and cats the daily serving of omega-3 EPA+DHA they need to live active, happy lives.

Best Liquid:

Vital Pet Life Salmon Oil at Amazon

"The liquid form will be easier to treat your dog owners if they struggle with a pill.

Best for Allergies:

GRIZZLY SALMON OIL Omega-3 Fatty Acids Food Supplement at Amazon

Many users have seen immediate reduction in skin irritation.

Best for Coat:

Pawlife Omega 3 for Dogs at Amazon

Additional nutrients included such as flaxseed and palm fruit to help keep your dogs coat in its best condition

Best for Skin:

International Veterinary Sciences Lipiderm Fish Oil at Amazon

Veterinary Formulated to reduce shedding control flea dermatitis, stop itching, and more.

Best for Joints:

Finest For Pets Omegease Omega-Rich Fish Oil at Amazon

Known for its ability to reduce and loosen up stiff joints.

What Nutrients Does Your Dog Need?

If you are familiar with dieting or fitness in general, you may already be aware of the three main macronutrients. These are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. 

You may already have your own preconceived notions about which of these macronutrients should be consumed in large quantities, and which should be eaten more sparingly. However, your canine’s nutrition requirements will be vastly different from your own. Let’s look at each macronutrient and their importance in your dog’s diet.


Proteins are the essential building block in muscles. They are composed of amino acids, and are needed to help the body repair cells and build new ones. This makes proteins an essential macronutrient for both humans and canines.

Veterinarians recommend that 15 - 23% of your dog’s diet consist of protein. These proteins can be derived from animal sources such as lamb, beef, or fish meal. Proteins can also be derived from plant sources such as lentils or chickpeas. Each of these protein types is important for different functions, so it is essential for your dog’s diet to feature a mix of both.


Carbohydrates are the sugars, fibers, and starches found in various types of food. They are commonly associated with dishes consisting of grains, pasta, and bread. Carbohydrates are an essential part of human diets as they provide energy for your brain, kidneys, and nervous system to function. However, they are less vital than other macronutrients in your canine’s diet.

Your canine’s ancestors rarely consumed carbohydrates, as they mostly fed on meat from wildlife. As a result, modern day canines do not require carbohydrates in their diet either. In fact, you could feed your canine a completely carb-free diet without any running into any problems.

Despite this, many dog food brands add carbohydrates to their products. These carbs serve no purpose other than to be a cheap way to add mass to dog food. Dry dog foods are notorious for being especially high in carbs. Owners who are concerned about their pet’s diet should opt for low-carb dry dog food varieties or try for wet food or fresh food options instead.


Fats have developed a poor reputation due to their association with the word “fat”. However, this macronutrient is an essential part of any dog’s diet. These are lipids that are typically solid at room temperature, and offer a dense quantity of calories compared to proteins and carbohydrates.

In addition to being a good source of calories, essential fatty acids also help resolve inflammation problems and promote healthy coats. Dogs that are receiving an insufficient quantity of fat in their diets are often prone to wound healing problems and dermatological conditions.

On the other hand, an excessive quantity of fat in your dog’s diet can lead to unwanted weight gain. This can result in the development of other health problems. Owners should ensure at least 5.5% of their dog’s diet consists of fats.

These fats can come from meat sources such as chicken, beef, or lamb. Certain plant-based oils such as canola, sunflower, and safflower oils are also full of healthy fats. 

Owners should also be vigilant about unhealthy fats in dog food. Many dog food manufacturers add lower quality fats advertised as “animal fat” or “beef tallow” into their products. These fats are usually derived from rendered animal tissue, and should be limited in your dog’s diet.

5 Best Fresh Food Delivery Services for Dogs

Owners that wish to feed their dog home cooked food but don’t have the time or resources to prepare it themselves should turn to fresh food delivery services. These delivery services prepare fresh and nutritious food for your canine and deliver it within a few days.

This food is healthier than commercial dog food brands and includes many options to meet your canine’s dietary needs. The top five fresh food delivery services for dogs are:

1. Ollie 

Ollie is a popular fresh food delivery service that is subscription-based. Owners can set a delivery schedule for orders, which are then shipped frozen. 

Ollies gives you the freedom to customize your canine’s meal plan however you choose. Whether you want to help your pooch lose weight, account for their allergies, or offer food for their sensitive tummy, Ollie offers it all. Each of Ollie’s food items are prepared in USDA-approved kitchens and feature high quality ingredients. Owners can choose from a variety of high-protein recipes containing meats such as:

● Beef

● Chicken

● Turkey

● Lamb

Sign up for Ollie today to help your pet meet their nutritional needs in an easy and worry-free manner.

2. Just Food For Dogs

Just Food For Dogs provides fresh dog food with a special focus on nutrition and quality. Each of their dishes is prepared using humans-grade ingredients, and using recipes perfected by their team of veterinarians. Owners can choose from a wide variety of dishes made from beef, turkey, chicken, lamb, venison, or fish.

3. A Pup Above

A Pup Above is a subscription-based delivery service that also offers on-demand and in-store food options. This brand stands out from competitors because all their meals are prepared sous vide style, meaning each dish is slow cooked in special pouches under hot water. This preparation method ensures each ingredient is tender and retains their nutrients.

Their food then arrives in three-pound bags containing three one-pound patties. Owners can thaw out portions as needed. However, this can make it difficult to store the remaining portions once they have thawed out.

4. Pet Plate

Pet Plate is another fresh dog food delivery brand that produces food in small batches. Each dish is prepared using high quality USDA-approved ingredients before being flash frozen and delivered. Owners can customize each meal plan to fit their canine’s age, weight, and activity level.

Pet Plate’s dishes are created using ground up meat, which is great for dogs that have difficulty chewing larger chunks. The service also makes storing food incredibly easy thanks to their reusable containers.

5. The Farmer’s Dog

The Farmer’s Dog is a great fresh dog food delivery service that allows you to customize meals based on your dog’s unique requirements. Each of their dishes were developed by professional veterinarians, and can help your pooch meet their dietary needs.

Dishes are delivered within days of their preparation, and are never deep frozen. This gives your canine access to healthy and fresh food on short notice.

Each of the fresh dog food delivery services mentioned above offers their own advantages. You should assess each one carefully before choosing the right service for your dog. Meeting your pet’s dietary requirements regularly is no easy task, but you can make this challenge much easier with the help of a reliable fresh dog food delivery service.

Ollie is a subscription-based fresh dog food delivery service.
A photo of a black dog eating dry dog food on a wooden floor.

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