Omega 3 Fatty acids
Use of Fish Oils as a Therapeutic/Preventative Supplement
• Decreases inflammation throughout the body at 40mg/kg EPA & 25mg/kg DHA
• Helpful for arthritis, skin conditions, cognitive, heart & kidney disease
• Wide concentration range between products
• Dose on label rarely enough to prevent inflammation
• More evidence based studies than any other supplement
Fish oils have better evidence in human and pet literature than practically all other supplements combined. These claims have been substantiated by good studies and put them in the lead of the evidence based supplements. The challenges however are finding the correct dose and the best way to deliver it in a convenient cost effective way.
Reported desired effects: High doses are used to treat and may prevent skin conditions, heart problems, kidney disease, osteoarthritis, cancer, “inflammation associated with daily activity” and improved cognitive function.
Active Ingredients: Eicosapentanoic Acid (EPA) & Docosahexanoic Acid (DHA) or fish oils [Also referred to as Omega 3’s, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) and Free Fatty Acids (FFA’s)]
Dosage: Supplement at 20 mg /lb EPA & 12mg/lb DHA per day. Concentration varies widely among products but typical fish oil capsules contain 1000mg of oil of which 180 mg is EPA and 120 mg is DHA. (So a 60lb dog requires 7 capsules per day) Read labels closely for mg Of EPA per capsule, serving size etc. Almost all label doses require doubling or tripling to reach the 20mg/lb per day.
Natural sources: Sardines, anchovies, deep ocean fish (must know amount)
Drug interactions: None
Side effects: Diarrhea at higher doses (increase slowly to prevent)
Other facts you need to know before you give your pet fish oils
1) Fish oils are highly prone to oxidation so they need to be protected from light and need adequate levels of Vitamin E or other antioxidants to preserve them.
2) EPA (Eicosapentanoic Acid) is most active fish oil for skin, joints, heart and & DHA (Docosahexanoic acid) for brain and retina. The combination, if given at 40mg/kg & 25mg/kg respectively has proven to turn off inflammatory mediators that cause damage throughout the body (1).
3) Flax seed (and other Omega 3 FA’s) are not readily converted to the active forms EPA & DHA in pets.
4) The ratio of Omega 6 to 3 appears much less important (if at all) than previously believed but the absolute levels of EPA & DHA are crucial.
5) There is CONSIDERABLE variability in supplements in terms of amount of EPA & DHA per capsule or ml of liquid in both human and pet products. Dosing is critical to achieve desired effects.
6) DHA is more important in cats (bladder & joint disease), and cognitive issues in both older dogs & young-where it is now being added to puppy foods to increase learning.
7) Only found at therapeutic levels in 2 foods (both prescription) at his time Hills J/D® and Purina JM®.
8) Can be supplemented at recommended dose most conveniently/affordably only via liquid. (Bioavailability of triglyceride, ethyl ester and free form now being debated — Stay tuned!).
9) In overweight pets you need to account for additional calories (10 cal per 1 gm capsule, so this adds 70 cal to an overweight pet’s daily intake). High potency formulations can cut the calories in half (DVM 3V HP®).
This information provided based on the scientific papers listed below as well as seminars, and evidence based sources. More information on the human nutraceutical site consumerlab.com and on our clinic website westsidepet.net.
Freeman, Lisa OSU Waltham 2002 Nutritional Conference
Mueller RS, et al. J Sm An Proc 2004, 45:293-297.
Simopoulos AP. J Amer Coll Nutr 2002, 21:495-505
Bauer JE. I Am Vet Med Assoc 2006, 229:680-684.
Caterson B, et al. Hills European Symposium Genoa, Italy, Apr 2005:14-18.
Brown SA, et al. J Nutr 1998, 128:2765S-2767S.
Smith CE, et al. J Vet Inter Med 2007, 21:265-273.