With so many anecdotes about the virtues of fish oil floating (excuse the pun) around the internet, this fishy “smart nutrition” seems like something of a miracle supplement, supplying both humans and pets with an abundance of valuable vitamins and nutrients.
And, on some level, that's true.
Fish oil does, at the very least, contain everything that its proponents rave about on social media. But there's far more to it than that, and the sobering truth is that the negatives of some fish oils ultimately outstrip the positives, particularly in the case of our furry friends.
Worse still, the use of unsustainably-farmed fish oil has an often overlooked impact on our environment.
So, we've taken a closer look at why certain fish oils can be a dangerous supplement to feed your pup, as well as assessing the environmental damage attached to the usage of unethically sourced varieties. We'll then take a look at a healthy, sustainable alternative, so you can take in the positives of fish oil without any of the risks.
The effects on your dog's diet
Proponents of fish oil are quick to point out that it serves as a terrific source of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. This is undeniably true, and both omega 3 and omega 6 are an important nutrient for any pup. Unfortunately, overly high levels of fish oil in foods leads to many dogs taking in far too much of both, and an overabundance of omegas can lead to numerous health issues for your best friend. Most notably, too much omega 6 can result in dogs suffering from chronic inflammation, which in turn can increase the risk of allergies, joint pain, diabetes, and auto-immune disease.
While omega 3 can help to counteract these issues, it can also lead to various health risks itself. High concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids are linked to both higher disease contraction rates and many cases of premature ageing. Omega 3 acids, present in fish oil, are also highly susceptible to oxidative damage, which leads to the creation of highly-reactive oxygen-containing modules within the body, known as free radicals. Free radicals are produced naturally by your pup, but omega 3 can raise the amount produced within the body to dangerous levels, and, in unnaturally high concentrations, they pose a significant threat to cell membranes, enzymes, and even your dog's DNA. The most common conditions of pets affected by excess free radicals are cancer, chronic inflammatory problems, and gene mutation.
Another inherent issue with too much fish oil is the fact that some sources contain harmful concentrations of toxins, putting your pup at further risk. As our oceans are polluted through industrial activity, heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury seep into our waters in dangerous volumes. These metals aren't easily broken down, so they end up polluting ocean life, leading to the presence of toxins in fish and other aquatic creatures. And, as many fish oils are not easily traceable, they can carry these toxins without warning. These harmful heavy metals can often lead to dysfunction in your pup's nervous system, blindness, cancer, irreversible damage to their kidneys and liver, and even death.
Heavy metals aren't the only risk, either, as toxins such as PCBs are regularly found in unsustainably-farmed fish oils today. These toxins are particularly dangerous to animals, so avoiding them at all costs is highly recommended.
Let's face it; we wouldn't want to take in any of these harmful toxins ourselves, so it goes without saying that we want our pets to avoid them as well.
The impact on the environment
It would be bad enough if certain fish oils only harmed our pets, but the global cost is also impossible to ignore, and the sooner we move past the usage of unsustainable fish oil, the better.
Certain fish oils are manufactured using fish that are 'vacuumed' up from the ocean, but the process is somewhat imprecise, and often leads to other marine life being removed from the seas as well.
Estimates place the number of dolphins, whales, and porpoises killed during this process at around 300,000 per year, dramatically lowering the population and destabilising the ocean's fragile ecosystem.
One of the most widely sought-after fish in the production of fish oil is the Menhaden. It may not be a name most are familiar with, but over half a billion Menhaden are fished from our oceans for this purpose every single year. These fish are known for eating algae blooms, making them something of a natural filtration system for our oceans. Without these fish, the oceans have begun to develop dead zones where sunlight cannot penetrate the water, preventing the growth of natural plant life.
Are there any ethical, safe alternatives?
We’re the first to admit how disheartening it can be to learn all this about something with so many potential positive effects. But don't fret, there's a healthy alternative that packs in all the goodness of fish oil, without any of the harmful side-effects!
Instead of harmful, unsustainable fish oil, consider DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid). Originating from cold-water marine microalgae, DHA is now entirely sourced from sustainably farmed algae, grown in a clean, contaminant free environment.
DHA has plenty to offer your pet, as it plays a vital role in cognitive development, aiding cognitive skills and memory development, as well as slowing down age-related mental degeneration in older dogs. It can enhance visual acuity as well, keeping their eyes sharper as they age. Additionally, it provides pivotal joint and mobility support well into their senior years, preventing inflammation and potential osteoarthritis. It even assists those poor pups who have particularly sensitive skin, protecting against inflammation caused by allergens.
With all these benefits, is it any wonder that pet owners who incorporate DHA into their dog's diet have seen them living happier, more active lives well into their golden years?
It should be clear by now that harmful, unsustainable fish oil is something to be boycotted in our diets. Olympic Professional appreciates this, and so they've opted to use only sustainably-farmed DHA over the other fish oils, so you can be sure your pet is getting nothing but the best. It's not just SMART NUTRITION for our pets, but a compassionate, SMART choice for our planet.
Make the change today, browse Olympic Professional healthy, environmentally-friendly range of foods on ZUKi and give your pup, and our planet, the love and care they deserve.