July 2018 - Bring On The Fish!

Omega-3s can help fight inflammatory skin issues.

Sweet itch, hives and hot spots. These and other types of inflammatory skin conditions can leave your horse’s skin vulnerable to chronic illnesses, hair loss and wounds. And they often makes your horse feel pretty miserable and irritated, too.

So how can we get our horses back to their sleek, shiny, and healthy selves if they’re struggling? Often, healing from the inside out can make a big difference. While we always advocate following your veterinarian’s advice, supplementing your horse’s diet with omega-3 fatty acids can often make a great adjunct to your treatment plan.

The Science Behind Omega-3s and Skin Issues

Making sure your horse gets enough omega-3s is a worthwhile endeavor. These fatty acids make up an important part of every cell in your horse’s body and are at the heart of numerous cellular functions.
When it comes to skin and coat issues specifically, here’s what we know about the benefits of omega-3 supplementation:

  • Skin inflammation: Many skin conditions involve inflammation. And omega-3s are great at fighting inflammation, especially thanks to their ability to reduce leukotriene B4, an inflammatory substance known to promote skin issues, like dermatitis. In addition, studies show that supplementing with fish oil can positively influence the fatty acid composition of skin. Notably, one type of omega-3, eicosapentaenoic acid (or EPA for short), can help decrease the production of the pro-inflammatory AA-derived prostaglandins. In turn, this can lead to a reduction in the inflammatory response caused by sun exposure and other irritants.
  • Sweet itch: In a 14-week double-blind, placebo-controlled study that supplemented omega-3 fatty acids to horses with sweet itch, Dr. Wendy Pearson, Assistant Professor in Animal Biosciences at the University of Guelph, demonstrated that supplementing with omega-3s can significantly reduce the area of allergic response in horses. Furthermore, for horses suffering from severe itching, a 2016 rat study focusing on pruritus (chronic itchy skin) offered more hope for relief. This study found that supplementing with fish oil improved skin hydration and significantly reduced itch-related scratching.
  • Wound healing: Long before scientists discovered omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil and cod liver oil were known and studied for their wound healing properties. Today, studies have shown that DHA, another type of omega-3 found plentifully in fish oil, can indeed accelerate wound healing when applied topically. In addition, a review of the literature by an expert on surgical infections concluded that supplementing omega-3 fatty acids along with arginine can also positively affect wound healing, help reduce wound infections, and improve the recovery process from generalized infections in both animals and people.
  • Hair loss and abnormalities: A study done by a German skin and hair expert for humans found that if a person’s diet is lacking in several components, including essential fatty acids, then the person could experience pigmentation changes, hair loss, or structural abnormalities in the hair.
  • Sunburns: Research has shown that fish oil can provide sunburn relief for people by reducing sun-induced inflammation. According to the researchers, the omega-3 fatty acids act as an oxidizable buffer, protecting more vital structures from free radical damage. Since horses can also get sunburns, fish oil may also be able to help horses on this front.
  • Getting a good fatty acid balance: Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients for skin health. But while both omega-6s and omega-3s are necessary, consuming an overabundance of omega-6 can fire up the body’s inflammatory response, leading to redness, irritation, warmth, swelling, and poor function. To cut down on omega-6, avoid feeding corn and sunflower oils. While these types of oils are often fed to promote coat shine, they are high in omega-6 fatty acids and could promote inflammation if fed long term.

Owner Experiences

We could continue citing the many studies about the benefits of supplementing omega-3 fatty acids to improve skin and hair health. But sometimes it’s good to also look at the anecdotal evidence from horse owners who have seen their horse’s coat health improve after supplementing with fish oil.

Wellpride®’s own customers have seen the difference. Carrick, the mount of legendary eventer John Williams, who competed with Carrick in the Olympics and World Equestrian Games, was notorious for skin problems. While on Wellpride, however, these problems improved. Carrick passed away last April at the ripe old age of 25.

Vegas, a 9-year-old Hanoverian/Thoroughbred cross, struggled with severe sweet itch and lost most of his tail on account of it. While sweet itch had been a chronic issue for Vegas every summer, Wellpride put a stop to that, according to his owner.

Foreign Dance, aka Ally, is an off-the-track Thoroughbred eventer who excelled on Wellpride in a variety of ways, but her owner commented on her coat in a blog post for Wellpride: “Her coat is great! The dust just sweeps right off of it! Everyone comments on how sleek and soft she is.” After several months of Wellpride fish oil, Ally’s owner again commented on her coat, “She cleaned up beautifully and I attribute her coat condition to nothing but the Fish!”

With these stories and many more, along with compelling scientific evidence, it’s not surprising that horse owners are seeing a difference in their horse’s skin and coat health while using Wellpride fish oil.

Article provided by Wellpride. For more information, visit www.wellpride.com.