GLA in pet food diet improves skin and coat health and reduces dependency on steroids to control atopic dermatitis. A whitepaper by by: Gia Fazio, Ph.D.

July 13th, 2018

A whitepaper by by: Gia Fazio, Ph.D.

Abstract
Atopic dermatitis manifests in dogs and cats causing dry, irritated, itchy skin and can lead to lesions that cause discomfort and require treatment with glucocorticoids and/or antihistamines. Aside from unwanted side effects, these medications do not prevent the issue from reoccurring. Multiple studies have shown that poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), including gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), added to a pet’s diet mitigates atopic dermatitis and supplants the use of medication. The addition of PUFAs restores healthy lipid composition and supports the skin’s natural impermeability to irritants or genetic factors that trigger atopic dermatitis. GLA, when consumed with other PUFAs, improves skin health, corrects atopic dermatitis and can prevent discomfort in pets.

Introduction
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common issue observed in dogs and cats. It is an inflammatory, chronic skin disease often caused by allergies or a genetic predisposition. The disease can cause multiple issues, including pruritus, anywhere on the skin but often on the ears, legs, muzzle, underarms and paws. Lesions can also develop as a primary response caused by the immune system or as a secondary response from self-grooming, leading to bacterial and fungal infections (Moriello 2016). Research has shown that there can be a genetic component that predisposes the pet to the inflammatory response which causes all of the uncomfortable symptoms. However, the disease can also be brought on by environmental factors such as grass, mold, dust or cleaning products (PetMD n.d.).

The disease is perpetuated due to over-reaction by the immune system to the irritants. Therefore, traditional treatments address blocking the immune response. Treatment is quite involved and can include topical or oral glucocorticoids, anti-histamines and/or environmental adjustments. While effective, the treatments must be prolonged (6-12 months) before improvement is observed (Moriello 2016). Additionally, because the illness is likely to reoccur, repeated use of glucocorticoids can lead to undesirable side effects including increased hunger and thirst, increased urination, lethargy, restlessness, secondary infections, mange, Cushing’s Disease and multiple organ dysfunction (Ward 2008).

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