There is much debate in veterinary medicine about what you should be feeding your dog but one thing everyone agrees on are the amazing properties of omega-3 fatty acids. These helpful little guys are abundant in certain plants and marine fish oils and have been shown to help with treatment of common abnormalities for our dogs and cats.

fish oil for pets

My beautiful ‘well-oiled’ dogs

Allergic skin disease, itching and ear infections are frustrating and frequently treated skin conditions of both dogs and cats. Multiple studies have shown that using high doses of fatty acids for six weeks or more decreased itchiness in greater than fifty percent of the study patients. Those that did not experience a decrease in itching, did show a decrease in skin redness or swelling associated with allergies. Fatty acids have also been found to have a synergistic effect with antihistamines, which even further decreases a patients discomfort from allergies.

Another common ailment for dogs and cats is arthritis, especially given the obesity rates in companion animals. Arthritis or degenerative joint disease (DJD) occurs when abnormal motility in a joint causes the protective cartilage of that joint to rub against each other in a pathologic manner. This results in a wearing down of cartilage until you have one bone grinding on another causing pain and inflammation. Laboratory studies looking at how omega-3 fatty acids affected canine cartilage metabolism found that our friend the fatty acid decreased cartilage degradation in experimental tissue samples.

fish oil for pets

DJD causes a wearing down of the cartilage

What does that mean? It means adding high levels of fatty acids to your dog’s diet could protect the cartilage thus slowing progression of DJD. Hill’s created J/D which is a prescription diet for animals with arthritis containing high levels of fatty acids. In developing this food they did numerous studies and found that animals with arthritis showed increased range of motion and weight bearing, along with decreased pain after feeding the J/D diet for three to six months.

In addition, a follow up study found that feeding the J/D allowed owners to decrease the dose of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Rimadyl while maintaining a comparable level of comfort. The amazing fatty acid not only helps to prevent DJD but also aids in managing pain.

Fatty acids have also been thought to improve treatment of chronic kidney disease, cancer and heart failure. Essentially they have the potential to help with so much and there is relatively no downside. The most common side effects are soft stool or diarrhea, if you notice this just back off on the amount you are adding to your pet’s diet. It is also reported that extremely high levels of dietary fatty acids can cause decreased blood clotting ability but this is very rare.

fish oil for pets

Fish oil capsules

There are multiple ways to increase the amount of fatty acids to your pet’s diet. An easy way would be to feed Hill’s J/D diet, the downside is it is expensive and once exposed to air fatty acids begin to break down and become less effective. There are also many types of veterinary products on the market as well. I find it easiest to buy human fish oil capsules and toss a few in with my dog’s food. For a more accurate dose speak with your veterinarian to determine exactly how much you should be giving your pet.

Ashley Gallagher, DVM

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Tagged on:                     

Related Posts

Pet Adoption – At Least Think About It Pets don't belong in cages; they belong in loving homes The number of cats and dogs in shelters continues to rise but each one of us can make a di...
Dog Games – Fun ways to play with your dog at home This week's guest post is from Carl Turner. Carl is a professional dog trainer and a freelance writer from Los Angeles, California Whether it’s a r...
Pet Obesity – Still on the Rise in 2017 The numbers are in for 2017 and, unfortunately, the pet obesity epidemic remains on the rise. The 2017 U.S. pet obesity survey, conducted by the Assoc...
Dogs and Ear Infections Baxter is a nine month old Westie who presented for scratching his ears and shaking his head. A quick peak at his ears revealed the skin was very red ...
Pet microchips and ID tags will protect your cats and dogs Frank has both an implanted pet microchip and a stylish ID collar tag I can only imagine the sense of panic one would feel if their dog or cat sli...
How To Identify a Stressed Dog and De-Stress Him This week we have a guest post from Rohit Agarwal.  There's no denying the old saying: dogs are man's best friend. Dogs are delightfully cheerful, ...
Pet Names – What will you name your cat or dog? When adopting a pet, the first thing you need to do is to name your cat or dog. Pet names range from common people names (Charlie) to celebrity names ...