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Does Your Cat Need An Omega 3 Supplement?

Benefits of omega 3 supplements for cats

Paco Pettit

There are thousands of supplements on the market formulated or recommended for cats, but not all cats need supplements.  Ideally their diet would provide the nutrients their bodies need.  However, in some cases certain organs, systems and glands need additional support due to an underlying condition, whether acute or chronic.  For example, an omega 3 supplement can be beneficial for cats for a variety of reasons.  Let’s take a closer look at why your cat may need to be taking an omega 3 supplement.

What are omega 3s?

Omega 3s are chains of polyunsaturated, essential fatty acids containing 3 types of fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaneoic acid (EPA).  Most importantly, they must be obtained in the diet because the body does not produce them.  These healthy fat sources include foods like fish oils, fish and flaxseed and are necessary for cellular function and beneficial for many health conditions.  


Benefits of omega 3 oils

In an article by Dr. Karen Becker, DVM, there are numerous benefits and uses for omega 3s, including:

  • Improving the health of your pet’s skin and coat. Poor skin condition puts your dog or cat at risk for itching, irritation, skin allergies and bacterial infections.
  • Alleviating the harmful effects of allergies and other conditions that result from an over reactive immune system response.
  • Slowing the growth of common yeast infections in dogs and cats.
  • Aiding proper development of the retina and visual cortex.
  • Preventing certain heart problems in your pet.
  • Maintaining healthy blood pressure and decreasing triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels.
  • Regulating blood-clotting activity.
  • Slowing the development and spread of certain pet cancers.
  • Improving mobility and osteoarthritis
Omega 3 oils have many benefits for cat health.

Lili takes an omega 3 oil to support her kidney disease.

Great for senior pets, inflammatory conditions

In addition to all the above-mentioned uses, omega 3s have been found to be very beneficial for older cats, too.  For example, cats with kidney disease or hyperthyroidism tend to lose muscle mass, especially as they age.  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study showing that “Omega 3 supplementation increased the rate of muscle protein synthesis in older  animals.” 

One of my clients, Paco, was diagnosed last year with a mast cell tumor in his stomach.  After addressing particular factors in his diet that were inflammatory, he now taking several natural herbal supplements along with an omega 3 to help reduce inflammation in his body.  

Just recently I began adding an omega 3 supplement for my cat, Lili, who is 14.  She developed kidney disease several years ago due to a urinary tract infection that moved to her kidneys.  Fortunately she has not experienced any muscle loss over the years and her kidney disease has stabilized.  

In another article by the AVMA omega 3 oils are found to help prevent cognitive decline in older pets.  Brain tissue contains large amounts of fatty acids, which can decline with age.  Therefore, adding an omega 3 supplement provides protection for neural tissues and has an anti-inflammatory effect.  

Can these oils help your cat lose weight?

Another benefit of omega 3s can be with weight loss.  Got an overweight cat?  It may surprise you to know that omega 3 oils can help pets lose weight!  For example, because omega 3s  have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, they can reduce the inflammatory enzymes that body fat has on the body.  In a different article, Dr. Becker mentions “a study done on Beagles published a few years ago in the Journal of Internal Veterinary Medicine. The dogs fed calorie-restricted diets lost more weight when omega-3 fatty acids were supplemented.”

Paco enjoys salmon oil added to his food.

Choosing an omega 3 supplement for cats

Finally, it’s important to note that omega 3 oils and fish proteins are two completely different things.  Fish diets are not beneficial for every cat; however, that doesn’t mean those cats cannot use a fish oil.  In addition, “fish body oils provide greater tissue levels of essential fatty acids than oils from other sources” such as nuts and plants.   When looking for omega 3 oil supplements there are several sources to choose from including:

  • Krill oil
  • Salmon oil
  • Cod liver oil
  • Shark liver oil
  • Tuna oil
  • Anchovy oil

Other factors to consider in choosing an omega 3 product include:

  • Is the oil harvested in an eco-friendly, responsibly way?
  • Where is the oil sourced?
  • Has the product been tested for purity and free of cancer-causing chemicals?

In conclusion, rotating fish oils can be another way to provide variety, especially if using fish liver products which are higher in Vitamin D.  Dr. Becker states that vitamin D requirements for pets are much lower than in people; therefore, be sure to monitor these levels to make sure they’re not too high.  Another way to know which omega 3 product is beneficial for your cat is to muscle test!  As a result, you will know exactly which oil is best and how much your cat actually needs. 



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