Updated: July 23, 2018
The recent controversy about Grain-Free diets has made the recommendations in this article particularly timely. Dr. Karen Becker’s highly informative article on deficiencies in amino acids due to processed Grain-Free foods is highly enlightening. She says that an easy way to introduce Taurine to your pet’s diet is to add a can of sardines or mackerel to their food 3 times per week.
Sardines and Eggs are Powerhouse Foods
Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in the diets of humans, dogs and cats have been well established as beneficial. Fatty acids play a major role in the functioning of the immune system. Protection against heart, eye disease and reduction of inflammation; especially needed as pets age are just a few of the many benefits seen when these critical fats are included in our diets and those of our animals.
Puppies must be supplied with adequate DHA before birth in order for their brains and nervous systems to properly form.
Puppies that do not eat enough omega-3 fatty acids will never reach optimum potential. Omega-3s are critical to many functions of the body. Dr. John Bauer, a leading veterinary nutritionist, wrote, “evidence exists to support the role of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in kidney and cardiovascular disorders in humans and companion animals. […] fish oil supplements in dogs appear to help preserve renal function. Similarly fish oils […] can minimize loss of heart muscle in dogs with congestive heart failure.” 1 Dogs and cats need about 1-1.5 grams of long chain omega-3 fatty acids per 100 pounds of body weight. Long-chain omega-3s are as essential for pets as they are for humans. Fish oil as with other oils, has been shown to improve coat and reduce skin irritation from allergy.
Fish oil is an excellent source of both DHA and EPA they can be excellent but spoil easily; and quality varies considerably in supplements. Using whole foods is always the best way to obtain nutrients in as close to their natural state and form as possible. The larger the fish, the more time it spends in the ocean drawing contaminants. Sardiness and Mackerels are low on the food chain and thus contain less mercury and radiation (think: Fukishima).
Sardines or Mackerel are an efficient and economical way to eat omega-3s (EPA, DHA) for all of us. They may be far more popular with cats and dogs than with humans, for whom sardines are often an acquired taste.
For small dogs and cats, one small sardine per day is enough. For big dogs, one large or two small sardines will be better.
Add a few sardines to your pet’s diet per week to provide the fatty acids, or you can make a once-a-week complete meal of them. Bones are included in sardines (canned Mackerel is boneless), adding a natural form of calcium to the diet. Sardines are real food in its whole form.
Eggs: Another Perfect Food
Eggs are also a great addition to a dog or cat’s diet. They are a good source of protein and fat, and now eggs with higher levels of EPA and DHA are available. Omega-3 eggs are from chickens fed flax. Your dog’s body (or your body) will have to convert the omega-3 from ALA into EPA and DHA; not an efficient process. It is much better to eat foods with high EPA and DHA levels naturally. Cats are unable to make this conversion at all, which is why flax oil is not a good choice for cats. Dr. Josh Axe says, “…food labels now brag about their omega-3 content more than ever. While omega-3s are now artificially added to multiple kinds of processed foods — peanut butter, baby formula, cereal and some protein powders, for example — it’s still best to get your omega-3s from whole, real food sources, especially wild-caught seafood.”2
Adding a raw egg* every other day is a way to improve a dry food diet, and to provide variety in a fresh food diet. You can also feed eggs once per week as a whole meal. Adding a few pureed vegetables will provide fresh whole food nutrition at a very reasonable cost. While adding DHA eggs to your pet’s diet has many advantages; it will not take the place of high quality Omega-3 fatty acids found uniquely and more bioavailable in wild caught fish.
Whole eggs are loaded with quality protein and heart protecting monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Pets enjoy the richness of raw eggs. To avoid harmful bacteria raw egg shells may be washed with soap and warm water before using. Choose eggs from a reputable cage-free source for highest nutritional levels. Raising chickens to produce eggs or as pets has grown in popularity 3 in recent years; it is a certain way to know exactly what comes into your kitchen. Chickens allowed to eat a well rounded diet (as opposed to just corn) will produce higher quality nutrition in their eggs. A chicken exposed to sunlight will yield eggs containing higher levels of Vitamin D.
While there are many things pet owners do to extend the life of their pet; to improve your pet’s health and give them a longer happier life; we recommend adding Sardines (or Mackerel) and eggs to their diet every week.
*Raw eggs can carry Salmonella which can cause GI distress for dogs and cats.
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- John E. Bauer, DVM Journal of the American Veterinary Medical AssociationDecember 1, 2007, Vol. 231, No. 11, Pages 1657-1661doi: 10.2460/javma.231.11.1657
- Dr. Josh Axe https://draxe.com/omega-3-foods/
- Backyard chickens in the United States: A survey of flock owners: Poultry Science Volume 93Issue 11
November 2014 C. Elkhoraibi R. A. Blatchford M. E. Pitesky J. A. Mench https://academic.oup.com/ps/article/93/11/2920/2730497/Backyard-chickens-in-the-United-States-A-survey-of