What is DHA & why do dogs need it in their diet?

Field Day resident Vet, Emily Turner unpacks why DHA is so important in a dog’s diet, and how you can incorporate DHA into their routine.

 

Similar to people, dogs often lack essential nutrients such as DHA in their diets. This can be a result of their regular diets being too high in grains, cereals or vegetables and not including enough fresh fish or seafood. 

Omega-3 fatty acids cannot be synthesised in a dog’s body, meaning the only way a dog can get the benefits of DHA is by eating foods, treats and supplements rich in this super nutrient. 

But what exactly is DHA? Well, put simply DHA also known as Docosahexaenoic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid that helps a dog’s brain develop, is a natural anti-inflammatory and can ease allergies. DHA can be found in fish oils, fresh seafood and oddly enough in algae. 

Algae is the most sustainable source of omegas, as it is a farmed vegan crop that captures large amounts of Co2 from the atmosphere as it grows.

 

The specific benefits of DHA for a dog include:


1. Minimising the chance of heart disease

Chronic inflammation has long been associated with heart disease in dogs. Omega-3 fatty acids rich in DHA are well known to be natural anti-inflammatories that can help stave off heart disease.


2. Easing Joint issues

Again, the omega-3 fatty acids and their anti-inflammatory effects support the sore and arthritic joints of older dogs. Adding DHA into a dog's diet can significantly support active or ageing dogs with hip and joint issues. 

 

3. Supporting brain health & development

DHA improves brain function in puppies and adult dogs, while also preventing degenerative conditions like dementia in older dogs. Because the grey matter of a dog's brain is mostly comprised of fat, diets high in DHA are thought to lead to better brain development and function. This is particularly important for puppies as they become easier to train, better at learning, better at socialising and have better psychomotor function and memory. This level of brain function can be maintained throughout a dog's life simply by adding a DHA rich supplement or treat to your dog's daily diet. 

 

4. Boosting skin and hair condition

The anti-inflammatory affects of DHA also provide relief for dog’s prone to allergies and itchy skin by creating a barrier on a dog's skin, keeping skin supple and moist and encouraging the skin's microbiome to flourish. This combination reduces itchiness and dry skin, resulting in shinier coats and less scratchy, more happy dogs. 

 

Incorporating DHA into your dog’s diet is not as difficult as you may think. Field Day’s new Multi-Immune Omega Spray makes incorporating this superfood into your dog’s daily diet easy, and delicious!