The benefits of a salmon diet for your dog

salmon stock photoTo some, salmon for dogs sounds like an awfully strange idea.  A fish diet seems more appropriate for a cat, and a salmon diet sounds like an outright luxury for your pet.  It may interest you to know that there are many benefits to including not only fish in your dog’s diet, but salmon specifically that we will cover in this article.

The benefits of a fish based diet for your pet are well known and documented.  For both humans and animals alike, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids help reduce the risk of heart disease, alleviate symptoms of depression, and help with joint pain from arthritis.  A deficiency of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can also lead to gout.  Heart disease is a big concern for dogs as they age, especially larger breeds.  Heart disease is the number one cause of death for Great Danes.  A diet poor in fish can lead to a lethargic, unhappy animal.  Especially as your dog gets older, it behooves you to include a diet rich with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to ensure they live a long, healthy, and happy life.
omega 3 fatty acid stock photoIt is possible for your dog to get his omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid intake from a vegetable diet, specifically by giving them vegetable oil.  The omega-3 fatty acid present in vegetables is known as alpha-linoleic acid and can be found in chia, flaxseed, nuts, and most vegetable oils.  Alpha-linoleic acid is shown to have less health benefits than Docosahexaenoic acid and Eicosapentaenoic acid, both of which are present in salmon.  These fatty acids have the ability to curb inflammation in your body, as well as slowing plaque buildup inside your blood vessels.  Because of this, the American Heart Association recommends an intake of oily fish for people who have heart disease or who are at risk for heart disease.  If your dog is beginning to show the signs of heart disease, ensuring he has sufficient omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are a natural way to give your dog longevity.

Since omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are present in all fish, you may now be asking yourself why salmon oil over less expensive generic fish oils?  First, it is very important to know exactly what kind of fish oil you are giving to your dog, especially if you decide to take the plunge and give them a daily dosage via supplement.  Many fish not only have omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in them, but also significant amount of vitamin A as well.  Too much vitamin A intake can lead to a condition called Hypervitaminosis A in your dog.  A tablespoon of cod liver oil, for instance, has more than the maximum recommended amount of vitamin A.  If your dog is excessively drowsy, shows irritability, vomits, or develops itchy patches of skin, it is important that you stop giving them that fish oil right away.  Hypervitaminosis A in your dog can cause permanent bone damage to your dog, and even death.
atlsalmon1Salmon oil is superior to generic fish oils for this reason because salmon contains low levels of vitamin A.  For this reason, salmon oil and salmon generally is widely regarded as having no serious side effects for your dog.  An overdose of salmon oil can lead to an increase in weight of the dog, due to it still being a fatty oil—but the risk of Vitamin A toxicity is not present when you give your dog salmon vs. other fish.

Generic fish oils are also extracted by eviscerating smaller feeder fish, which usually entails grinding up their whole body, organs and all.  Salmon oil is extracted only by using the heads and tails of the fish, avoiding a lot of the undesirable pollutants present in internal organs.  Furthermore, because they are extracted through evisceration, the heat generated by the process can reach heats higher than 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is important to note that all oil extraction involves some degree of heat being generated.  However, as temperatures rise in the oil, the nutrients of the oil are killed and the oil carries less of the health benefits than had it been prepared at a lower temperature.  Generic fish oils lose most of their effectiveness when they are heated to these temperatures during the extraction process.

happy dogOils that are considered cold-pressed oils must be extracted in a process that never allows temperatures to exceed 120 Fahrenheit.  Extraction this way actually yields less oil, but oils that are kept under 120 Fahrenheit retain all of their beneficial nutrient properties.   If you are also watching your dog’s weight, you will need less of a cold-pressed oil to provide the same nutrient value as a salmon oil extracted under warmer temperatures or a generic fish oil.

A salmon diet and/or a cold-pressed salmon oil supplement to your dog’s diet can not only give your dog a shinier coat and make him happier, it can help prevent many health complications later in his life keeping him healthy and active for years to come.