Fatty Acids: Use For Allergies And Skin Conditions In Dogs And Cats

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Fatty Acids: Use For Allergies And Skin Conditions In Dogs And Cats
Fatty Acids: Use For Allergies And Skin Conditions In Dogs And Cats

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For years, pet dog and cat owners have given their pets fatty acids to turn dull, dry coats into smooth, shiny coats. More recently, veterinarians have discovered that fatty acids play an important role in other areas as well - for example, helping with skin allergies, inflammation, and improving the functioning of internal organs in cats and dogs.

What are fatty acids? Fatty acids are a specific type of polyunsaturated fat. We will discuss the two main classes of fatty acids: omega-3 and omega-6. These classifications are based on molecular characterization. You may have also heard of omega-9 fatty acids. In fact, omega-9 is a reduced concentration of omega-3 and omega-6 in the blood and skin.

What fatty acids do pets need? Animals can produce some types of fatty acids, but not all. Those acids that are not produced by the body but must be contained in the diet are called essential fatty acids. Interestingly, the acid required for one species is not necessarily required for another. For example, arachidonic acid is essential for cats, but not for dogs.

In some diseases in the body of animals, there is a lack of enzymes that convert one fatty acid to another. Sometimes fatty acids cannot be absorbed normally in the intestines. When animals have these features, some fatty acids that were not previously necessary become so. They should be added to the diet. If an overweight animal is kept on a restricted fat diet, it may also develop a fatty acid deficiency.

Flea Allergy Alopecia
Flea Allergy Alopecia

Flea Allergy Alopecia

Fatty acids in feed are susceptible to dehydration, i.e. digestion can destroy them. Improper storage or insufficient amount of antioxidants in dry food can cause rancid taste and, as a consequence, lack of fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids include:

- alfalinolenic acid (ALA);

- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA);

- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

ALA can be converted to EPA, but this does not occur in the skin. EPA is the workhorse of omega-3 fatty acids and is found in cell membranes.

Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids include:

- Linoleic acid (LA);

- Gamma linoleic acid (GLA);

- Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA);

- Arachidonic acid (AA).

LA can be converted to GLA, but not in the skin. But in the skin, DGLA can be synthesized from GLA. LA is very important for the body, as it improves the absorbency of the skin. On the other hand, AK, when ingested in large quantities, can cause a lot of trouble.

Fatty acid ratio. Recent research has shown that the optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids consumed should be between 10: 1 and 5: 1, in contrast to earlier recommendations, when the ratio was thought to be approximately 15: 1.

Most pet foods contain much higher omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. Some pet food companies have added omega-3s to their foods to lower their omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. It should be understood that the most important thing in a feed is the actual concentration of EPA in omega-3.

Sources of fatty acids. Fatty acids can be found in fat, but in varying amounts. For example, beef tallow contains a very low percentage of fatty acids, while sunflower oil and fish oil are much higher.

The essential fatty acids can be found in varying amounts in many plants and fish found in northern waters. Marine mammalian fat is a rich source of EPA and WPC. Other fatty acids are found in high amounts in some plants and grains. Sunflower and safflower oils are especially rich in LA.

For those animals that are allergic to fish, chia seeds (Salvia hispanica) can be a source rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The grains of this plant contain their own antioxidants. Recently, Tri-Omega, derived from chia seeds, was recommended by the FDA for horse feed.

As mentioned above, most animal foods contain more omega-6s than omega-3s. It was found that cattle and poultry that were fed high amounts of omega-3s produced meat and eggs with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. In the future, using these products in animal feed may help to optimize the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in the diet.

How fatty acids act on inflammation

EPA, DHA and DGLA reduce the harmful effects of AA.

Both AA and EPA can be incorporated into cell membranes. When a cell breaks down, AA is released from the cell membrane and degraded into substances that increase inflammation and itching. EPA is also released when the cell is destroyed, but as a result of its breakdown, substances are formed that cause weaker inflammation, although the enzymes involved in the decomposition of AA and EPA are the same. The same is true for DHA. Thus, DHA and EPA reduce the harmful effects of AA.

DGLA also fights AK for enzymes. In addition, DHPA causes the breakdown of prostaglandin E1 (PGE), a substance that interferes with the release of AA from cell membranes.

Alopecia in a cat, photo photography
Alopecia in a cat, photo photography

Alopecia in cats

We hope you understand from all of this that by adding EPA, DHA, and GLA (which the body can easily obtain from DGLA), we can reduce inflammation.

In addition, fatty acids help in the treatment of the following systemic diseases:

Allergies and autoimmune diseases: These occur when the immune system overreacts to certain substances. Certain fatty acids can reduce the harmful effects of these diseases on the body.

Other inflammations. Certain types of fatty acids can help reduce inflammation in conditions such as ulcerative colitis, enterocolitis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Sparse and dry coat. If the animal has a thin and dry coat, its condition can be improved by adding essential fatty acids to the diet, especially LA. It has also been shown that a lack of LA in the skin causes seborrhea. In this disease, not only LA should be added to the diet, but also EPA and GLA, which help to neutralize AA released from cells destroyed as a result of these skin diseases.

Contamination of wounds with pathogenic yeast. Laboratory studies have shown that the addition of fatty acids to the diet reduces the growth of the yeast Malassezia pachydermatis, which is common in cats and dogs.

Various skin diseases of cats. In complex therapy for miliary dermatitis and eosinophilic granulomas, the addition of fatty acids to the diet is effective.

Prevention of allergic diseases. The researchers suggest that adding fatty acids to food prevents the development of atopy (allergies to inhaled substances such as pollen and mold) in young animals. The theory is as follows. Atopic mothers-to-be have low levels of prostaglandin E (PGE), which is essential for the development of a healthy immune system in newborns. If the mother has a lack of PGE, then the baby who is born with a tendency to atopy will have the same problem. GLA, being converted to DGLA, promotes the synthesis of prostaglandin E, therefore, providing the female in the last months of pregnancy and during lactation with supplements containing GLA, it is possible to increase the level of prostaglandin E in her body and reduce the risk of atopy in the offspring.

Vision. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the proper development of the iris and the visual cortex.

Heart diseases. Evidence suggests that fatty acids help prevent certain diseases of the cardiovascular system. They can help reduce the risk of ventricular arrhythmias in dogs and lower blood pressure. Studies have shown that fatty acids have a similar effect on cats. Fatty acids thin the blood, so it is recommended to give them to animals prone to thromboembolism.

Cancer. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids slow down the development of metastases in certain cancers. However, omega-6 fatty acids stimulate tumor growth.

Plasma triglycerides and cholesterol. Studies have shown that fish oil lowers blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Animals that received retinoid therapy (treatment with an artificial vitamin A substitute) for the treatment of certain skin diseases developed hyperlipidemia. When using fish oil for the same purpose, this pathology does not occur.

It is clear that fatty acids are essential for the proper functioning of many body systems, as well as the fact that not all fatty acids are created equal. Since different fatty acids affect the body in different ways, their choice should be based on the disease you intend to treat.

Choosing a supplement containing fatty acids. Animals being treated for atopy should be given supplements high in EPA, DHA, GLA, and vitamin E.

Animals with seborrhea and other skin conditions will benefit from a high LA supplement, as well as zinc, folic acid, and other supplements. Rare dry wool requires the addition of LA to the diet.

Polyunsaturated fats, which are found in fatty acids, increase the body's need for antioxidants. Fatty acid supplements should be fortified with vitamin E.

Simply adding fatty acids to animal diets can help reduce inflammation and itching. Often fatty acids are used in combination with other therapies. Fatty acids and antihistamines have a mutually reinforcing effect, as do fatty acids and glucocorticoids. By using supplements containing fatty acids in the diet of animals suffering from allergic itching, it is possible to reduce the dose of glucocorticoids by 50% or even completely eliminate them. Interestingly, biotin supplementation increases the effectiveness of fatty acids.

Adding fatty acids to the diet has no immediate effect. It often takes a month or more for an animal to give fatty acids before positive results can be seen. Many veterinarians recommend giving fatty acids for 9-12 weeks, and only after this period, if there are no noticeable results, cancel. Many experts advise giving fatty acid supplements twice daily. Research shows that sometimes 2-10 times the recommended dose is needed to control itching in dogs.

Dermatological diseases in cats, such as miliary dermatitis and eosinophilic granulomas, respond well to supplementation with fatty acids, with success rates of 40% and 66.7%, respectively. The rate of recovery in dogs with allergic itching is lower, according to research around 20%.

Risks and side effects of adding fatty acids to the diet. There are several side effects when fatty acids are added to food. The most serious complication, which fortunately rarely occurs, is pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas that manifests itself clinically with pain, diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration.

Since fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats, they are high in calories. If the animal is offered fatty acids in large doses, then in order to prevent weight gain, a low-calorie feed and less sweets should be given. Some animals develop diarrhea from supplements containing fatty acids. This will not happen if you start with a low dose and gradually bring it up to the required dose. A low-fat diet can improve the effectiveness of fatty acid supplements.

Since supplements containing fatty acids are high in fish oil, some animals get fishy odor from their mouths.

Conclusions.The appointment of fatty acids is effective in complex therapy has shown itself to be a good side in the treatment of diseases of the skin, hair coat and other systems of the animal body. Fatty acids have different effects on the body, and the choice of supplement depends on the effect to be achieved. For dry skin and sparse dull coats, a supplement with a high LA content is recommended. Supplements high in EPA, DHA and GLA are effective for treating allergies and inflammation. In the treatment of atopy and other types of allergies, it has been shown that supplements containing fatty acids have a synergistic effect with antihistamines and glucocorticoids, thereby reducing the dose of glucocorticoids. For therapeutic purposes, supplements should be given for at least 9-12 weeks. To determine the optimal amount of the required supplement, the ratio of fatty acids in it,change in diet, concomitant therapy, it is necessary to conduct additional laboratory examination of the animal.

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Editor: veterinarian, candidate of veterinary sciences V. Aronov - tel.: (812) 923-86-80, mob. +7 (911) 923-86-80.

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