Animal Hospital News

The Power of Omega 3 Fatty Acids for Pets

posted by Dr. Deb on July 8th, 2012 in Cats, Dogs

                If you ask me, the Best Nutritional Supplement you can give your pets (and probably yourself, but you’d have to ask your own doctor) is Omega 3 Fatty Acids!  In particular, high potency Eicosapentanoic Acid (EPA).

                EPA at 15- 18 mg / lb of body weight daily has been shown to be anti-inflammatory.  It is primarily  used to help treat skin allergies and arthritis in pets.  But, is also being recommended, by general practitioners as well as specialists, as part of the standard treatment regimen for internal organ diseases as well! 

                Only the fish oil sources of omega 3 fatty acids are absorbed and utilized by pets.  Flaxseed, often used by humans as an omega 3 source, won’t work in pets they lack the enzymes necessary to convert the omega 3s in the flaxseed to EPA. 

                “Fish Oil” sold over the counter is not all the same, either.  Read your labels to be sure that your purchase indicates exactly how much EPA is in each capsule.  You can’t go by the total milligrams (mg) on the label.   For example, “1000mg of fish oil” could have any amount of EPA, DHA and omega 6 fatty acids (which are pro-inflammatory and not recommended for patients with inflammatory conditions—they get enough of that in their every day diets). Nutraceuticals and supplements are not overseen by the FDA, so they don’t have to report the exact contents of each capsule.  Even when they do, the label claims are not always exact.   So, look for the big brand names in supplements for the most trustworthy sources.  Also, look for a product that says it is “Microdistilled”.  This is a process that removes the mercury from the fish oil. 

More potent, Less Fishy, Microdistilled, Highly Absorbed- Top of the Line Brand for pets!

                It’s not always easy to find a high potency product on the grocery store shelf.  If you are treating a large dog, you may have to feed 4-6 fish oil capsules a day.  This may become expensive, cause the dog to smell like a fish, or may cause diarrhea.  In which case, consult your veterinarian as there are a couple of great products available through veterinary distributors that are more potent and less “fishy”.  https://dvmfreeform.com/  

                Remember that you are treating with a nutraceutical—a natural substance being used as medication.  It takes approximately 3-4 weeks for the body to replace the pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids in the body’s cell walls with anti-inflammatory omega 3s.  So, the Omega 3s have to be fed continuously and for a long period of time (for life, I you ask me!)  to give a benefit.  Your pet will probably appreciate some faster-acting prescription medication, at least for the short term, or maybe in addition to the omega 3 supplement long term, to achieve maximum comfort and health, so consult your veterinarian about your pet’s conditions to give your pet the best treatment.

                Side benefit to giving your dog high potency EPA:  you will also be giving high levels of DHA, another omega3 fatty acid that has been demonstrated to be particularly beneficial in helping with the treatment of heart disease and age-related cognitive dysfunction (“senility” ) in pets as well as people!

In Summary:

High Potency (15- 18 mg/lb) Omega 3 EPA is anti-inflammatory

 Helpful in treating

Arthritis

Skin Allergies

Liver Disease

Kidney Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Heart Disease

Pancreatitis

Hyperlipidemia/ High Cholesterol

Orthopedic Injuies like  Cruciate ligament rupture

Intervertebral Disc Disease (chronic)

 Use only Microdistilled fish oil sources– more expensive, but safer!

Read the label for contents, so you can tell how much EPA you are giving

Give for a prolonged period of time for maximum benefit.  The benefit is subtle, so you won’t see huge changes quickly like you might with prescription medication

Consult with your veterinarian about your pet’s condition to see if there is anything else that should be done to give your pet maximum relief from his symptoms so he can live the longest, happiest life with you!

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