• Delivery Icon
    Free Delivery On orders over £29*
  • Quality Icon
    Quality Assured Fully UFAS and NOPS certified
  • Award Icon
    Award Winning Products Since our launch in 2014
  • TrustPilot Icon
  • The (o)mega benefits of DHA and EPA

    It is well documented in both human and animal science that omegas such as 3 and 6 provide a whole host of nutritional benefits. But what actually are they, and how do they help our horses?

    Essential Fatty Acids

    Omegas are the name for polyunsaturated fatty acids which cannot be produced by the body and must therefore be obtained from the diet. There are two types that are important for horses: omega-3 and omega-6.

    Omega-3 is also referred to as alpha-linolenic acid, and is considered to be anti-inflammatory. It is metabolized to docohexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Omega-6 is a proinflammatory, also known as linolenic acid and is metabolized to arachidonic acid (AA). The number describes the position of a double bond, which distinguishes the two and relates to differing biochemical and nutritional qualities.

    When fatty acids are released, they become eicosanoids, which are compounds that regulate homeostatic and inflammatory responses. You have probably heard of prostaglandin before – this is an example of an eicosanoid. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as bute or ibuprofen are used to inhibit eicosanoid production in order to achieve an anti-inflammatory response. But not all eicosanoids are equal…

    Which omegas are the best?

    The equine industry most commonly supplements omega-3 in the form of fish oil or flaxseed. You may be familiar with being told to eat oily fish to gain your omega-3, and it is essentially the same for horses – they receive this from marine sources. Omega-6 is more commonly found in grains such as oats and barley, or oils such as sunflower.

    The converted versions (DHA, EPA, AA) are the most biologically active eicosanoids and therefore have the greatest effects on the body. Whilst the different omegas have different functions within the body, omega-3 is far more beneficial and research shows that it provides much greater health benefits than its counterpart, omega-6. Marine-derived omega-3 (DHA and EPA) is the most superior, and provides more benefits than the plant based sources such as flaxseed. If you are looking for a supplement containing omega-3, the ones that will be most beneficial are those containing DHA and EPA.

    Benefits for horses

    There are a number of well researched and well documented benefits that marine-derived DHA and EPA provide the horse with.

    • DHA and EPA have been found to improve joint health, by modifying the production of inflammatory mediators in the joint, meaning that they are beneficial for arthritic conditions.
    • It has been found that increased DHA plasma concentrations can improve cough symptoms and decrease respiratory efforts in horses with chronic airway diseases.
    • Mares that are supplemented with marine-derived DHA and EPA during late gestation give birth to foals with greater plasma DHA concentrations than those supplemented with flaxseed forms of omega-3.
    • DHA has been found to improve plasma glucose and insulin concentrations in horses with metabolic syndromes, though more research is needed in this area.

    There is a solid foundation behind the benefits of supplementing horses with DHA and EPA, which can be impactful for not only a variety of conditions but for supporting general health. Science Supplements use marine-derived DHA and EPA in FlexAbility Plus, FlexAbility Professional, RespirAid, and ImmunAid.



    Brennan, K. M., Graugnard, D. E., Spry, M. L., Brewster-Barnes, T., Smith, A. C., Schaeffer, R. E., & Urschel, K. L. (2015). Effects of a docosahexaenoic acid–rich microalgae nutritional product on insulin sensitivity after prolonged dexamethasone treatment in healthy mature horses. American Journal of Veterinary Research, 76(10), 889–896. https://doi.org/10.2460/ajvr.76.10.889

    Caron, J. P., Gandy, J. C., Brown, J. L., & Sordillo, L. M. (2019). Omega-3 fatty acids and docosahexaenoic acid oxymetabolites modulate the inflammatory response of equine recombinant interleukin1β-stimulated equine synoviocytes. Prostaglandins & Other Lipid Mediators, 142, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prostaglandins.2019.02.007

    McHaney, A. M., Welti, R., Roth, M. R., Dinnetz, J. M., Furtney, S. R., Pendergraft, J. S., Epp, T. S., & Minton, J. E. (2013). Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Affects Selected Phospholipids in Peripheral White Blood Cells and in Plasma of Full-Sized and Miniature Mares. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 33(10), 779–786. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jevs.2012.12.008

    Nogradi, N., Couetil, L. L., Messick, J., Stochelski, M. A., & Burgess, J. R. (2014). Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Provides an Additional Benefit to a Low-Dust Diet in the Management of Horses with Chronic Lower Airway Inflammatory Disease. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 29(1), 299–306. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvim.12488

    Piccione, G., Marafioti, S., Giannetto, C., Panzera, M., & Fazio, F. (2014). Effect of dietary supplementation with omega 3 on clotting time, fibrinogen concentration and platelet aggregation in the athletic horse. Livestock Science161, 109–113. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.livsci.2013.12.032

    Ross-Jones, T., Hess, T., Rexford, J., Ahrens, N., Engle, T., & Hansen, D. K. (2014). Effects of Omega-3 Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation on Equine Synovial Fluid Fatty Acid Composition and Prostaglandin E2. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 34(6), 779–783. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jevs.2014.01.014

    Smith, W. L., & Murphy, R. C. (2016). The Eicosanoids. Biochemistry of Lipids, Lipoproteins and Membranes, 259–296. https://doi.org/10.1016/b978-0-444-63438-2.00009-2

    Snyder, E., Shost, N., Miller, R., Fikes, K., Smith, R., Corl, B., Wagner, A., Girard, I., & Suagee-Bedore, J. (2021). 59  Late gestation supplementation of long chain fatty acids increases foal docosahexaenoic acid concentrations at birth. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 100, 103522. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jevs.2021.103522


    Older Post
    Newer Post
    Close (esc)


    Stay up to date with news, updates, products, and research!

    Age verification

    By clicking enter you are verifying that you are old enough to consume alcohol.


    Main menu

    Shopping Basket

    Your basket is currently empty.
    Shop now