The role of DHA for puppies and kittens

The role of DHA for puppies and kittens
In this article, you’ll find out what you need to know about the Omega 3 fatty acid DHA, which is a major building block for the brain and can go a long way in improving the health of your dogs and cats, and the litters they’re producing for you.


 doga and cat

Influence on Breeding Outcomes

As a breeder, we understand that you’re committed to improving the health of your dogs and cats, with the aim to produce offspring who epitomise their breed characteristics.

Many factors influence the outcome of breeding, and ultimately the health and temperament of the progeny. Reproductive factors include genetics, dam and sire selection, age of the dam, as well as her health, nutritional status and mothering abilities.

Non-reproductive factors include the environment into which the litter was born and raised, including the type and level of socialisation they experienced. Positive socialisation is vitally important during early puppy or kitten development. This is because the socialisation period is particularly influential in the development of a stable temperament in the adult pet. In kittens, this is generally considered to be shorter (8 weeks though may extend to 10 weeks) than this period is for puppies (up 12 weeks). This is not to say that positive socialisation practices should end once these ages are reached. On the contrary, they should absolutely extend throughout a pet’s life.

Further non-reproductive factors include the knowledge and ability of the new pet owner, who will also have a major influence on breeding outcome. It’s the role of a responsible pet owner to continue providing positive socialisation experiences, as well as training that encourages the pet to offer desirable behaviour. Another factor that has a significant impact is the nutritional support provided during the prenatal, neonatal and postnatal stages. The role of the breeder in influencing breeding outcome through the variable of nutrition can’t be underestimated, and it’s why your choice and recommendation of diet is so important.


Nutrition for Reproduction and Growth

How a puppy or kitten is fed is critical for their future health, and certain nutrients are particularly important during reproduction and growth. Fat is an important source of energy for fuelling growth. The differences between one fat and another are mostly the result of different combinations of fatty acids in each.

In this article, we’ll focus on the Omega 3 fatty acid DHA; a major building block of the brain.


What is DHA? 

DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) is an Omega 3 fatty acid required for normal brain and nervous system development. DHA is one of the primary fats found in the brain, eyes and nerves. 


How does DHA Assist in Healthy Puppies and Kittens?

During gestation, DHA is required for normal foetal development of the brain and nervous system. Therefore, a diet suitable for pregnancy should be formulated to supply an adequate DHA level. For dogs, ADVANCE™ Puppy Rehydratable Small Breed, ADVANCE™ Puppy Medium Breed and ADVANCE™ Active make great choices for pregnancy feeding. For cats, ADVANCE™ Kitten is the recommended diet for feline pregnancy.

Before weaning, puppies and kittens receive a source of DHA from their mother’s milk. Lactation represents the most nutritionally demanding life stage for the bitch and queen. Therefore, careful consideration should be given to her diet to support both the quality and quantity of milk produced. The ADVANCE™ diets recommended for pregnancy are also formulated to support lactation. This makes lactation feeding seamless as no diet change is required, which also supports the bitch’s digestion.

After weaning, puppies and kittens need DHA to be supplied in the growth diet they consume. In pet foods, DHA is usually supplied through ingredients such as fish, fish meal and fish oil. Studies have shown that puppies fed an enhanced-DHA diet outperformed puppies fed a typical-DHA diet in learning and trainability tests.

dogs puppies

A nutritionally complete and balanced diet specifically formulated for puppies or kittens should be fed until adulthood. This means that for kittens and small breed puppies (under 10kg as adults), a growth diet should be fed until 12 months of age. Medium breeds (10 – 25kg as adults) should receive a growth diet until 15 months of age, while large and giant breeds (over 25kg as adults) should be fed puppy food until around 18-21 months of age. This may be provided by feeding either a wet or dry format or a mixture of the two.

It’s challenging to provide a home prepared diet that is complete and balanced in the long term. The growth phase of puppies and kittens is short compared to humans, so there’s less chance to correct a nutritional imbalance if it arises. When you choose to feed a high quality diet from the ADVANCE dog and cat food range, you have the peace of mind knowing the diet has been scientifically formulated and is complete and balanced. This means the diet will supply all of the essential nutrition required to support healthy growth and development, without the need for supplements (which carry their own risks). It also means that the right nutrients are supplied in correct amounts and in a form that is easy to digest and use by the body.


Support the Potential of Your Litters

While improved nutrition is unable to overcome sub-optimal genetics and/or training programs, it’s a variable we can readily control. You can help support the genetic potential of your litters through the supply of quality nutrition.

The ADVANCE™ range of dry growth diets for puppies and kittens have been formulated with Omega 3 DHA and Choline to support healthy brain and vision development to encourage learning. ADVANCE™ dry products are proudly made in the Central Tablelands in NSW and offer a 100% money back guarantee.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to our Breeder Services team, please contact us.