Should dogs have fish in their diets?

Yes! Fish is a great source of vitamins and has been linked to improvements in coat condition, brain function, and joint mobility. Seafood-based dog foods are considered to be a fantastic source of protein.

Proteins are organic molecules made up of amino acids.  These amino acids are joined together by chemical bonds which are folded in different ways to create three dimensional structures that are essential for life.  Every cell in the body contains protein.  Protein is a major part of muscle, skin, organs and glands.

Fish is an ideal source of protein for dogs.

Protein should be easily digestible so the body can break it down easily. Fish is a high quality, easily digestible protein. A fish rich diet can help ensure that your dog is extracting all the nutrients, vitamins, fats, sugars and proteins it needs to stay healthy.

Fish provides a healthy balance of the essential amino acids.  Essential amino acids such as omega 3 and 6 are thought to play a pivotal role in the health of your dog.  An imbalance of amino acids can require organs such as the liver and kidneys to work harder to excrete any unnecessary acids.  With fish, the ratio is so well balanced that there is very little that needs to be excreted.

Omega 3 is an essential amino acid that acts as an anti-inflammatory, helping with skin and coat condition, mobility and overall health.   Omega 3 can be found in other food sources, but Omega 3 in the DHA and EPA forms, found mainly in fish, are the most beneficial.  The ALA form of Omega 3 found in vegetable sources such as flaxseed, or linseed oil must first be converted to DHA and EPA forms.  Dogs lack the enzymes to do that efficiently.

Omega 6 is found in seeds, nuts and vegetables is another essential amino acid.  Ensuring your dog has fish sourced Omega 3 in its diet will help provide the correct balance.

Skin and Coat

Omega 3 and 6 are thought to play a significant role in the health of the skin and coat.  These fatty acids have a structural role in cell membranes and ensure the proliferation of skin cells.  It is believed that diets containing a high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids may improve skin and hair condition.

Most poor coat and skin conditions, whatever their cause, involve inflammation of the skin, so reducing that inflammation helps alleviate the symptoms for your dog.  Fish oils promote the production of sebum, an oily, waxy lubrication.  With increased levels of sebum, the skin becomes supple and hydrated and the hair is coated with a protective oily layer, giving the coat a beautiful shine.   A dog’s skin and coat provides a natural, physical barrier which is essential to maintain body temperature and reduce water loss.  Maintaining you dog’s coat in the best possible condition is vital in ensuring overall health and vitality.

One of the common causes of skin conditions in dogs are allergies, or sensitivities to foods.   Wheat and beef are the most common intolerances, with others being pork, chicken, milk and maize.  Fish does not cause these problems.

Joint mobility

As dogs age, their joints become a little less flexible and sometimes painful and aching.

Articulated joints are enclosed capsules where two bones meet.   To prevent the bones from touching, the end of each is covered in cartilage and the space between the two is filled with fluid, held in by a membrane.  In young, healthy dogs, the cartilage is smooth, soft and flexible.  In older animals, the cartilage can become brittle, rough and pitted resulting in pain and inflammation.  Glucosamine and chondroitin can help in rebuilding the cartilage.  Fish is rich in both Glucosamine and Chondroitin and also contains a high level of sulphur, which further assists the process.

Inflammation is another cause of joint pain in older animals.  As well as friction caused through cartilage damage, infection can also increase inflammation and pressure around the joint.  Fish oils are particularly effective at reducing this inflammation and have been found to be effective at reducing the painful symptoms of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Dehydration can also cause crystal formation in the joint fluid, which also irritates the sensitive membranes that encapsulate the fluids.  To minimise the occurrence of joint discomfort it is important for your dog to have a diet containing balanced amino acids.  Fish is particularly suitable for providing the correct balance.  An imbalance in amino acids means that the dog has to modify and then excrete any excess.  This process generates the compound ammonia which circulates in the blood until removed by the kidney, after conversion to urea.  If the concentration of blood ammonia is particularly high, or the efficiency of its excretion is reduced due to kidney problems, the ammonia can crystalise in and around joints, causing pressure and inflammation.

Brain function

Omega 3 is highly concentrated in the brain and appears to be important for brain function, memory and behaviour in dogs.

Do dogs like the taste?

A dog’s highly developed sense of smell works together with its taste buds to build a highly developed sense of taste.  The strong aromas and tastes found in fish will give your dog a welcome break from bland alternatives.

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