One of the key functions of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA is supporting the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response. 

Dogs and cats can suffer from numerous inflammatory conditions that can affect their health and well-being. Studies have shown supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids from fish supports dogs and cats with inflammatory conditions associated with the skin, joints, kidneys, and heart. 

In puppies and kittens, the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) plays a key role in neurological (brain) and retinal (eye) development. Studies have shown that feeding pregnant dogs omega-3 fatty acid-enriched foods during gestation and lactation provides needed DHA to their puppies. Puppies that are weaned onto foods with DHA have improved electroretinographic responses (a measurement of the electrical response of the retina in the eye to light stimulation), and improved responses to training tests. Human studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial in maintaining normal cognitive function later in life. 

Finally, essential fatty acid supplementation is known to maintain general skin and coat quality in dogs and cats. 

Omega-3 fatty acids are important throughout the life of dogs and cats. DHA is very important for normal neurological (brain) development in both puppies and kittens. In addition to the role of DHA in brain development, studies in humans have shown that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial in maintaining normal cognitive function later in life. 

As your pet ages, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation can support dogs and cats with inflammatory conditions related to the joints, kidneys, and heart. 

All dog and cat breeds can benefit from omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. Certain health conditions known to benefit from omega-3 fatty acid supplementation are related to skin allergies, joints, kidneys, and the heart. Breeds that may be prone to these conditions may benefit from omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. For example, many larger breed dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherd Dogs, are prone to developing joint issues. 

Skin allergies can occur in any dog breed, but has been reported in Boxers, Cocker Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, Collies, Dalmatians, German Shepherd Dogs, Lhasa Apsos, Miniature Schnauzers, Retrievers, Chinese Shar-Peis, Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers, Dachshunds, and West Highland White Terriers. 

Heart conditions can also occur in many breeds. Studies evaluating omega-3 fatty acids in dogs with heart conditions have included the following breeds: Boxer, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shetland Sheepdog, Airedale Terrier, Golden Retriever, Jack Russell Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, Portuguese Water Dog, and Toy Poodle. 

The effects of omega-3 fatty acids on behavior in dogs and cats have not been well researched. However, one recent study did show that dogs with aggression problems had lower blood levels of DHA and higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratios than dogs without aggression. Although this study does not prove cause and effect, it does suggest that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation may be beneficial for pets with aggressive conditions. 

Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has also been researched in humans with cognitive dysfunction. Results of these studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial in maintaining cognitive function. Therefore, improved behavior may be appreciated in older pets, especially those suffering from cognitive dysfunction. 

Fish oils are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids because they provide long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, EPA and DHA. 

The omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are considered Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) for humans, as well as for dogs and cats, because they cannot be made in the body. In order to maintain optimal health and wellness, these fatty acids must be obtained through diet or supplementation. 

The two health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are long chain omega-3 fatty acids and are found abundantly in fish. Flax seed oil contains alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, a shorter chain omega-3 fatty acid that requires the enzyme delta-6 desaturase to convert it into EPA and DHA in the body. 

Humans and dogs have limited ability to convert ALA to EPA and DHA1. Cats have even less ability to convert ALA to EPA and DHA2. Therefore, supplementation with a high quality omega-3 fish oil is recommended for humans, dogs, and cats.