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The Truth about the Essential Fatty Acids!

The most common type of fats and oils are triglycerides. Triglycerides are made from a combination of three fatty acid molecules and one glycerol molecule.

L ---------- Fatty Acid
C ---------- Fatty Acid
R ---------- Fatty Acid

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are so called because they cannot be produced by your cat or dog and thus must be supplied by their diet.

Dogs require one EFA, known as LINOLEIC ACID. Cats require two types LINOLEIC and ARACHIDONIC ACID. Both of these are classified as Omega 6 EFAs.


Hemp, Pumpkin, Sunflower, Safflower, Sesame, Corn, Chicken oil, Evening Primrose oil, Walnut and Beans.


Deficiencies of Omega 6 may result in: limited growth and reproduction, weight loss, eczema, hair loss and an increased susceptibility to infections.

It is also useful in preventing fluid retention, reducing blood pressure and aiding wound healing.

Omega 3 EFAs are structurally similar to Omega 6 EFAs . However, at the moment Omega 3 is not considered essential for cats and dogs, as the dietary requirements have not yet been specified.

Although, research has suggested that Omega 3 may have an affect on the fatty acids of cell membranes, in turn affecting the molecules involved in inflammation, thus may make it beneficial for pets suffering from arthritis (Logas et al, 1991).


Marine Fish oils e.g. Herring, salmon, sardines, tuna, flax (linseed), hemp, spinach and pumpkin seed.


Abnormalities due to deficiencies of Omega 3 have not yet been proved although they are thought to be useful in:

Reducing inflammation, controlling cholesterol and fat levels, helping immune function and metabolism, helping correct brain functioning and keeping the blood thin (Eskimos have a low incidence of heart disease but bleed easily due to high levels of Omega 3 in their fish diet).

There are two principal Omega 3 types:

(1) DHA docosahexaenoic acid, which is recommended for the structure of cell membranes, especially in the eye, brain, heart and skin.

(2) EPA Eicosapentaenoic acid, which is anti-inflammatory and anti-aggregatory (prevents the blood platelets grouping together to form clots).

However, large doses of fatty acids may be harmful to the health of your pet, they are an unstable structure and can be easily oxidised, which may impair their function. Long term supplementation with Omega 3 may produce a deficiency in Omega 6.

Therefore, it may be worth considering Burns Canine Fish and Brown Rice (containing marine fish from the North Sea, with an oil content of 8-9% and a suitable balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6),


Burns Feline Maintenance, which contains chicken and fish oil.

We do not usually recommend supplements with Burns Real Food and suggest that advice be sought from us with regards to this.
Our nutritional advice line is 0800 083 66 96 or contact us online


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©2006 Burns Pet Nutrition Ltd. No part of this website can be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Burns Pet Nutrition Ltd. The advice of Burns Pet Nutrition or a qualified veterinary surgeon should always be sought before changes are made to the diet in the nutritional management of health problems.

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