Three studies show that dogs fed fish oil (high omega-3 fatty acid) improved in mobility and showed less pain. Believers of the power of fish oil (myself included) are not surprised, but at least now we have clinical proof.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) announced in a press release the results of the three studies. The studies included 274 dogs with osteoarthritis that participated at dozens of private veterinary clinics and two University veterinary clinics.
“In the first study, dogs with chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis showed improvements in their ability to play and rise from rest at six weeks after being switched to a diet containing high concentrations of fish oil omega-3 fatty acids. The second study showed that limb strength in dogs improved with omega-3 dietary intervention. In the third study, veterinarians were able to reduce the dosage of carprofen, a common NSAID used for pain relief in dogs with osteoarthritis, while still providing pain relief to dogs that were fed food supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids.” http://www.avma.org/press/releases/100304_omega-3_fatty_acids.asp
Study One was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) January 1, 2010. In this study 38 client owned dogs with osteoarthritis were examined at 2 University veterinary clinics. “Dogs were randomly assigned to receive a typical commercial food (n = 16) or a test food (22) containing 3.5% fish oil omega-3 fatty acids. On day 0 (before the trial began) and days 45 and 90 after the trial began, investigators conducted orthopedic evaluations and force-plate analyses of the most severely affected limb of each dog, and owners completed questionnaires to characterize their dogs’ arthritis signs.” Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: “At least in the short term, dietary supplementation with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids resulted in an improvement in weight bearing in dogs with osteoarthritis.”
Study Two did things a bit differently; they used high doses of fish oil. Published in the JAVMA on January 1, 2010. In this study 127 client owned dogs with osteoarthritis in 1 or more joints were examined from 18 private veterinary clinics. “Dogs were randomly assigned to be fed for 6 months with a typical commercial food or a test food containing a 31-fold increase in total omega-3 fatty acid content and a 34-fold decrease in omega-6–omega-3 ratio, compared with the control food. Dog owners completed a questionnaire about their dog’s arthritic condition, and investigators performed a physical examination and collected samples for a CBC and serum biochemical analyses (including measurement of fatty acids concentration) at the onset of the study and at 6, 12, and 24 weeks afterward.” Results: “According to owners, dogs fed the test food had a significantly improved ability to rise from a resting position and play at 6 weeks and improved ability to walk at 12 and 24 weeks, compared with control dogs.”
Study 3 was to determine if pain medicine could be reduced by supplementing the pet’s diet with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids. Published in the JAVMA on March 1, 2010, 101 client owned dogs with stable chronic osteoarthritis were examined at 33 privately owned veterinary hospitals. “In all dogs, the dosage of carprofen was standardized over a 3-week period to approximately 4.4 mg/kg/d (2 mg/lb/d), PO. Dogs were then randomly assigned to receive a food supplemented with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids or a control food with low omega-3 fatty acid content, and 3, 6, 9, and 12 weeks later, investigators made decisions regarding increasing or decreasing the carprofen dosage on the basis of investigator assessments of 5 clinical signs and owner assessments of 15 signs.” Results: “Results suggested that in dogs with chronic osteoarthritis receiving carprofen because of signs of pain, feeding a diet supplemented with fish oil omega-3 fatty acids may allow for a reduction in carprofen dosage.”
Of huge importance is the following statement in the AVMA release: “This finding is especially important because it allows veterinarians to better understand that complications that may arise from pain relief medications could be reduced when the medications are used in combination with proper nutrition.” We can assume that “proper nutrition” in this case implies a diet supplemented with fish oil.
Although none of these studies stated the type or grade of fish oil used, most experts recommended supplementing your pet’s diet with a pure pharmaceutical grade fish oil. Inferior fish oils can be contaminated with mercury and other toxins. Always consult your veterinarian regarding any supplements added to their diet.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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