Is Fish Oil Good For Arthritis In Dogs
When faced with arthritis in their dogs, owners often turn to products like glucosamine, turmeric or hemp oil. What always surprises me is how few dog owners try fish oil before I suggest it. I suspect the reason is that its hard to use well, and easy to get wrong.
Here Im going to lead you through the evidence and end with advice on how to use fish oil most effectively.
Skip the next section unless youre really interested!
How Fish Oil Keeps Your Dog Healthy
The first three things most people will think of when they hear the words fish oil are brain health, heart health and joint health. But what you might not know is that while fish oil does help deliver all of those things for people, it also does the same thing for dogs.
The reason? Its because fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, acids that are important for the health of almost every cell in a pets body, says Dr Renée ODuhring from The Natural Vets, a holistic veterinary practice in Queensland. Omega-3 fatty acids are the good fats that help to keep a lid on inflammation, she says. So if a dogs diet is deficient in omega-3s, the brain, heart, eyes, joints, skin and coat can all suffer.
Food or supplements?So if omega-3 fatty acids come from fish, can you just stock up on tinned sardines and be done with it? The answer is yes and no.
Its always important to make sure a dogs diet is balanced first and foremost, because without getting the right nutrition into your pet, you cant provide the building blocks for true health, says Dr ODuhring. Just like humans, dogs tend to have differing requirements for omega-3s, depending on whether its for health maintenance or for a particular health condition.
What Type Of Fish Oil Should You Give Your Dog
As mentioned, the benefits of fish oils require that the formulation is correct. When buying Omega-3 fatty acids, you must be aware if you are buying the triglyceride formulation or the ethyl ester formulation . The information should be visible on the label.
Avoid using the manufactured ethyl ester formulation of Omega-3. The reason you do not want the ethyl ester product, even though it is less expensive, is because its health benefits are inferior. It is less stable, at least 40% lower absorption by the body, and it doesnt taste as good. It has also been found that this formulation causes dogs to be more gassy and who wants to deal with that! Instead, look for the natural triglyceride formulation of Omega-3.
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What Is Fish Oil For Dogs
Fish oil is a dietary supplement thats often recommended for dogs and other pets, as it can help to support everything from their heart to their joints. Fish oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation in the body, boost the immune system and even help your pooch to fight canine cancer.
Just like us humans, dogs cant produce these essential fatty acids by themselves, so they need them to be provided in their diets. Thats where you come in!
Your veterinarian may prescribe a short course of fish oil for your dog, or they may recommend your precious pooch takes them on a long-term basis. Either way, there are lots of benefits and its a really common recommendation so dont be concerned if your pup is about to start taking a fish oil supplement.
Pills Capsules Or Liquid Fish Oil For Dogs
Fish oil supplements are available in capsule, chewable pill, and liquid forms. The gel cap form is usually used for fish oil supplements intended for humans, although some canine-friendly gel cap pills are also available. The best type for your dog will depend on factors such as whether or not they take pills easily and whether or not they like the smell of fish oil.
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Dosages Of Fish Oil Supplements For Dogs
Although fish oil is a natural product that can be bought over the counter with no prescription, it could still cause an unwanted reaction in your pup.
Before starting the course of supplements, speak to your vet and monitor your furry friend after giving fish oil supplements. The right dosage to choose depends on a number of factors, including your dogâs breed, sex, age and weight.
As a rough guide:
The recommended daily dose is between 75-100mg/kilogram for a healthy dog. So, for a 22kg female German Shepherd for example, a good ballpark figure would be between 1,650mg and 2,200mg a day. For a smaller dog, it would be much lower.
For a dog with a particular health condition like osteoarthritis, this figure could be higher, up to 3,227mg for a dog of the same weight.
What Are Omega 3s
Omega 3s are one of several poly-unsaturated fatty acids that have physiologic roles in the body. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are essential PUFAs that are required for numerous functions in mammals, but they must be consumed through the diet. Omega 7 and 9 PUFAs can be formed endogenously. The distinction of 3, 6, 7, and 9 are based on the location of the final double bond in the chemical structure.
Omega 3s include EPA , DHA , and Alpha Lipoic Acid . Omega 6 PUFAs include linoleic acid and arachidonic acid this is the same AA that we are familiar with in the mechanism of action of NSAIDs .
Metabolism of AA leads to the production of inflammatory eicosanoids , including prostaglandin E2 . The metabolism of Omega 3 produces different forms of PGs and LTs that are less inflammatory .
Thus, increasing the amount of Omega 3s in the body leads to the replacement of AA in the cell membrane and decreased the production of inflammatory mediators. .
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Why Is Fish Oil Good For Dogs
You may be wondering how fish oils are able to help. Well, Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically Eicosapentaenoic acid and Docosahexaenoic acid , that are present in fish oils, can help decrease inflammation in not only skin cells but throughout your dogs body. When a body is under a state of constant inflammation, regardless of the cause or location, cells suffer microscopic damage and oxidative stress. When this occurs, there is an increased risk of illness and disease.Guess what? Fish oil benefits dont end with just reducing inflammation. Thats right, they offer potential benefits to other parts of the body and help with different diseases. Studies and clinical experiences also suggest a role for the use of fish oils in managing a host of conditions in dogs.
Cod Liver Oil For Joints
The research completed to date on canine arthritis is equally positive. One study split arthritic dogs into two groups, then fed them either a standard diet or one enriched with cod liver oil for a period of 13 weeks. Throughout the experiment the dogs owners were asked to keep a record of their ease of movement and daily activity levels.
The results showed that dogs eating the supplemented diet showed marked improvements in their condition while the standard diet showed no similar improvement. They reported that high levels of omega 3 from fish origin improved the locomotor disability and the performance in activities of daily living.
Another experiment involved 131 dogs that both suffered from osteoarthritis and were being treated with painkillers for their condition. The veterinarians then provided half the dogs in the trial with cod liver oil on a daily basis. Throughout the 12 week study period each dog was regularly assessed for signs of arthritic pain, with their pain medications being adjusted accordingly.
It was found that the vets – who didnt know which treatment each dog was receiving – were able to reduce the use of prescription painkillers far more in the cod liver oil group. This further demonstrates the action of cod liver oil to relieve inflammation – and therefore discomfort – in dogs with joint problems.
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Are There Any Risk Factors For This Supplement
Fish oil should not be used in pets that are sensitive to it. Do not use unreputable sources of fish oil, as heavy metal toxicity can occur. Fish oil should be used cautiously in pets that are also taking anticoagulant medications or that have blood-clotting disorders, as this supplement can increase the anti-clotting effects. It should be used cautiously in pets with diabetes, diarrhea, or a history of pancreatitis. Fish oil should be used cautiously in pregnant or nursing pets. High doses should be used carefully, as vitamin A overdoses can occur.
A Brief Look At Arthritis
The term arthritis is derived from two Greek words: arthro, meaning joint, and itis, meaning inflammation. There are over 100 different types of arthritis, and all of them affect the joints.
The second most common form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis . RA is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes the immune system to attack the joints synovial capsule and other soft tissues. Both types of arthritis cause inflammation and pain in the joints.
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How To Treat Your Pet With Arthritis
There are several treatments and techniques for arthritis which you can adopt and provide your pet to help manage the condition. A common misconception about caring for a dog with arthritis is that they shouldnt be walked as much, however, this is untrue. While it may not be suitable for your dog to run extensively, dogs who suffer from joint pain can be taken on shorter walks, sometimes twice a day to help them stay active without exerting extensive pressure on their joints.
Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements
These supplements are well known for both people and dogs. The glucosamine and chondroitin are the building blocks that the body needs to repair cartilage inside the joints, so the theory is that these supplements have both a protective and healing benefit.
Cartophen is a medication that is administered by injection. It contains glycosaminoglycans, which is a different form of glucosamine. Glucosamine is part of the building block of glycosaminoglycan and is a smaller molecule that can be absorbed orally, and then used by the body to manufacture glycosaminoglycans.
Glycosaminoglycans are large molecules that are broken down in the gut so can only be given by injection. They are used to repair cartilage in the body and can, therefore, help with arthritis damage in the joints. Giving it by injection ensures that it isnt broken down by the action of the digestive system. Again, it can promote healing of damaged cartilage.
Responding to treatment
When Is The Best Time For Fish Oil
But dont think that you have to wait until your dog is older until you give them these supplements because healthy younger dogs can also greatly benefit from fish oils for dogs. One major benefit that your dog can get from these supplements is a nice and shiny coat. When your dogs have nice and healthy coats with some great shine to them, it means that they are less susceptible to seborrhoea which you may recognize as redness and flaking on their skin. It can also protect against fur loss. Having all that fur can mean that they are prone to skin problems and one problem that these fish oils can prevent is yeast infections in the skin and the ears of your beloved pets. Prevention is a whole lot better than cure so if you start your dogs on fish oil for dogs early, you can prevent such pesky skin problems. You may not have known it but sometimes, these skin problems can cause other problems in your dogs if they are not prevented or if they are not cured as soon as possible.
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Look For Proof Of Quality Control
You should also check that the fish oil you choose has a quality seal from the National Animal Supplement Council . Look for quality control certification by accrediting agencies, and when in doubt, I tend to go with a larger brand since they have more to lose if they are making false claims, Dr. Haworth said.
Is There A More Natural Way To Get These Fatty Acids Rather Than Supplements
Lots of foods contain high levels of essential fatty acids, but not all those foods are suitable for dogs, and not all dogs like them. Cold-water fish, shellfish, plant and nut oils, and flaxseed are all great sources of Omega-3, for example. If your dogs diet doesnt contain a huge amount of those, supplementation is a handy way to strike a balance.
Lots of pre-made dog foods actually contain meat from corn-fed animals, or refined oil, which can lead to a build-up of another type of fatty acid Omega-6 in your dogs diet. Too much Omega-6 can lead to all sorts of problems. Thankfully, Omega-3 helps balance out the Omega-6 fatty acids found in processed foods and lots of grains, so the benefits really are huge.
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Fish Oil Is Missing Important Anti
There are some other important anti-inflammatory fats but they arent in fish oil.
ETA is another omega-3 anti-inflammatory fatty acid. It can also help regenerate cartilage in a dog with arthritis. Your dog can convert ETA to EPA but not the other way around. So if theres no ETA in his diet, hes missing out.
GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory benefits. It helps with hormone balance and supports your dogs coat and skin. But GLA only comes from plants. Fish oil doesnt have it.
Is Fish Oil Good For Dogs
There are a ton of ways that fish oil can benefit both healthy dogs and those who have certain underlying conditions.
While most dogs will benefit from adding fish oils to their meals, some need them more than others, Dr. Simon said. Those with pre-existing medical issues including atopic dermatitis, dry skin, cardiac disease and arthritis will benefit the most. However, all breeds who are genetically prone to these conditions should be considered as candidates for fish oil supplementation.
Here are just some of the benefits of fish oil for dogs:
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What Can Your Dog Get From Fish Oil
People can get benefits from these fish oils but what benefits can dogs get from fish oil for dogs supplements? As it happens, veterinarians use fish oil to cure a number of health problems in dogs. It is even recognized as a form of medicine now. Just as fish oil is good for people it has very similar effects on dogs too. One major problem among dogs is that as they age, they develop arthritis just like people do. They also develop joint problems just like with people. When your dog has joint pains and arthritis, this limits the activities that it can do and as a result it lowers the quality of life that your dog enjoys. It is very sad to see a dog limping as they walk around and yet fish oil for dogs can greatly help in reducing their arthritis and joint problems.
Fish Oil Pills For Dogs
If giving your dog pills is a struggle, you might consider a chewable fish oil supplement. One such fish oil supplement tablet for dogs is Amazing Nutritionals Omega 3 Chews. These tablets are bacon and liver flavored, which may be a better option for dogs who do not like fish .
It should be noted that this fish oil supplement also includes sunflower and evening primrose oils, both of which are safe for most dogs to consume. These ingredients are sources of omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids in addition to the fish oils omega-3s if you are looking for a pill containing only fish oil, you will want to look at alternative options.
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Helpful Supplements To Help A Dog With Arthritis
There are a number of supplements that you can give your dog in addition to the prescription pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory drugs that your veterinarian prescribes.
The most widely recommended supplements for dogs with arthritis are glycosaminoglycans . Also known as mucopolysaccharides, these nutraceutical supplements include glucosamine sulfate, glucosamine HCl, and chondroitin sulfate. Sometimes the unprocessed sources of GAG supplements, such as beef cartilage and green-lipped mussels, are used.
GAGs are important because they actually protect the joint rather than just reduce symptoms by helping rebuild car-tilage and restore synovial fluid, explains canine health researcher Mary Straus at dogaware.com. GAGs may also have some preventive effect on arthritis, though this is speculative.
GAG supplements may be most effective given between meals, though they can be fed with food if needed. Always start with high doses, says Straus, so you will be able to tell whether your dog responds. If you see improvement, reduce the dosage to see if the improvement can be maintained at a lower dose. If you dont see any improvement within three to four weeks, try another supplement.
S-adenosylmethione is a pain-relieving compound found naturally in the body that helps regulate hormones and maintain cell membranes. Products containing 200 mg SAM-e are appropriate for most dogs weighing more than 15 pounds.
Great Salt Lake Salts
Absorption enhancers make the effects of a nutrient stronger, cancel out the effects of inhibitors, or increase absorption rates and are an important additive to dog supplements. Great Salt Lake Salts are an all-natural, low-sodium full-spectrum, ionic sea-mineral concentrate from Utahs Great Salt Lake and is important for the absorption of vitamins and nutrients.
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