Linoleic Acid, Fatty Acidsand Coat Health

Food For Thought™ Technical Bulletin No. 9R

Innovative Research in Dog and Cat Nutrition™

What is Linoleic Acid?

Linoleic acid, a naturally occurring omega-6 fatty acid found in common pet-food ingredients such as corn and chicken fat, is a required nutritional component of the canine and feline diet.

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What Are Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Fatty acids are the building blocks of dietary fat and are formed by specific combinations of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

  • Certain groups of fatty acids, called the omega-3 (fatty acids in which the first double bond is located at the third carbon atom) and omega-6 (fatty acids in which the first double bond is at the sixth carbon atom), are particularly important to various functions in the dog's body.

The first double bond is located at the 6th carbon atom, therefore, this is an omega-6 fatty acid.

  • Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for maintenance of skin and coat condition, normal growth, proper membrane structure, and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
  • Linoleic acid is the most important omega-6 fatty acid since it cannot be synthesized by the dog and is used to make other omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Cats also require arachidonic acid, in addition, because they cannot synthesize it from linoleic acid.
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How Much Linoleic Acid Does My Dog Need?

Most pet foods contain more than the required amount of linoleic acid. However, Iams research shows that it is not the amount, but the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids that is most beneficial to dogs and cats.

The optimal omega-6:omega-3 fatty acid ratio to maintain a healthy skin and coat in dogs and cats is between 5:1 and 10:1. This means that between 5 and 10 omega-6 fatty acids should be present for every 1 omega-3 fatty acid.

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  • Linoleic acid is an essential nutrient in the canine diet.
  • Research shows that an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 5:1 to 10:1 promotes healthy skin and coat.
  • All of our products are formulated with the optimal fatty acid ratio.
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