Petfood Industry - February 2013 - 36

NUTRITION

36

www.petfoodindustry.com

THERE ARE SEVERAL types of
omega-3 fatty acids. Two crucial
ones-EPA and DHA-are primarily
found in certain oily fish, such as
salmon. Plants like flax contain ALA,
an omega-3 fatty acid that is partially

converted into DHA and EPA in the
human body. Algae oil often provides
only DHA.
According to petMD.com, DHA
and EPA-from fish and fish oil-
have better-established health bene-

fits than ALA. Although people can
convert ALA into DHA (and EPA, or
eicosapentaenoic acid) the ability of
dogs to do this appears limited, says
Jennifer Coates, DVM. 
A PAPER PUBLISHED in the
September 1, 2012, issue of the
Journal of the American Veterinary
Medical Association looked into
whether foods containing high levels
of DHA improved puppies' cognitive,
memory, psychomotor, immunologic
and retinal function when fed after
weaning (S.C. Zicker et al., 2012).
Previous studies had revealed that
feeding DHA-rich foods to pregnant
females during gestation and lactation and to puppies prior to weaning
improved puppies' retinal activity
and "trainability," but this particular
research investigated whether or
not supplementing the diets of older
puppies could have similar benefits.
This is a relevant question because
most pet owners obtain their puppies
after weaning and therefore have
little control over their DHA intake
before this time. 
The researchers fed female
Beagles a food that was adequate for
gestation and lactation but contained
low levels of DHA for two weeks or
more prior to conception and through
pregnancy and lactation. After
weaning, 48 puppies were divided
equally into one of three groups that
ate either a low-, moderate- or highDHA food until they were 1 year old.
The high-DHA food also contained
more vitamin E, taurine, choline and
L-carnitine, but the study's results
certainly point to a potential benefit
in supplementing puppies' diets with
DHA after weaning.
The researchers found that,

February 2013

PetfoodIndustry


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