By Dr. Becker
In February I wrote about a study done in the Netherlands on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for cats with osteoarthritis (OA).
Recently I came across a Canadian study1 also published last year that indicates the same is true for dogs with naturally occurring OA. The dogs were fed a veterinary prescription diet containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, and showed significant improvement in locomotor disability (problems moving around) and performance of daily activities.
Dogs Fed a Diet High in Omega-3s Showed Significant Improvement in Gait and Activity Scores
The University of Montreal’s Department of Veterinary Biomedicine conducted a 13-week study with 30 pet dogs suffering with arthritis. Half the dogs were fed a commercial dog food containing omega-3 fatty acids sourced from fish oil. The remaining dogs were fed a similar food, but with a different fat source.
The dogs were evaluated with force plates to analyze their gait, veterinary orthopedic exams, and activity scores assessed by their owners. Force plate measurements were taken at the start of the trial and again at weeks 7 and 13. The gait of dogs on the omega-3 supplemented diet was markedly improved, as were their activity scores. The dogs fed the other diet showed no significant improvement in either area.
Other Ways to Help Prevent or Alleviate Arthritis Symptoms in Your Dog
In addition to a high quality omega-3 supplement (I recommend offering krill oil; I do not recommend processed pet foods with added omega-3s), there are several other natural supplements and therapies that can help alleviate arthritis symptoms in your pet, including:
- Veterinary chiropractic care. Chiropractic treatments are affordable and can be very effective in alleviating pain and reducing joint degeneration.
- Massage, therapeutic exercises and physiotherapy can reduce inflammation and pain in damaged tissues.
- Acupuncture can be tremendously beneficial for dogs with degenerative joint disease.
- Adequan injections can stimulate joint fluid very rapidly in pets with arthritis.
- Adding certain supplements to your pet’s diet can provide the raw materials for cartilage repair and maintenance, among them:
- Glucosamine sulfate, MSM and Egg Shell Membrane supplements
- Homeopathic Rhus Tox, Arnica and others that fit the animal’s symptoms
- Ubiquinol and turmeric
- Supergreen foods, such as Spirulina and Astaxanthin
- Natural anti-inflammatory formulas (herbs, proteolytic enzymes, such as Wobenzym® and nutraceuticals)
- EFAC complex
Other extremely important factors in preventing or alleviating the symptoms of OA include keeping your dog at a lean, healthy weight; feeding a balanced, species-appropriate diet; discontinuing annual vaccines (titer instead); and giving your dog plenty of opportunities to be physically active throughout her life.
Additional Benefits of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
The omega-3s include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaneoic acid (EPA).
Omega-3s, play a huge role in your pet’s health in many ways, among them:
- Improving the health of your pet’s skin and coat. Poor skin condition puts your dog or cat at risk for itching, irritation, skin allergies and bacterial infections.
- Alleviating the harmful effects of allergies and other conditions that result from an over reactive immune system response.
- Slowing the growth of common yeast infections in dogs and cats.
- Aiding proper development of the retina and visual cortex.
- Preventing certain heart problems in your pet.
- Maintaining healthy blood pressure and decreasing triglyceride and blood cholesterol levels.
- Regulating blood-clotting activity.
- Slowing the development and spread of certain pet cancers.