Thursday, March 4, 2010

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Might Help Dogs With Arthritis

Studies Detail Possible Benefits of omega-3 Fatty Acids for Dogs With Arthritis

A series of studies published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) offers new insights into the possible benefits derived from feeding foods containing high omega-3 fatty acid concentrations to dogs with osteoarthritis.

The results of the three studies, according to contributing author Dr. Kevin Hahn, director of research and chief medical officer at Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc., show that the dogs that were fed the foods experienced less pain associated with the disease and greater mobility.

"Many of us write off mobility problems in dogs as a part of the aging process," Hahn said. "These studies demonstrate that feeding a food containing omega-3 fatty acids to a dog with osteoarthritis significantly improves mobility and quality of life. All three studies showed significant mobility improvement as assessed by either pet owners, veterinarians, or both."

The studies, published in the January 1, 2010, and March 1, 2010, issues of JAVMA, included 274 dogs with osteoarthritis that took part in clinical studies at dozens of privately owned veterinary clinics and two university veterinary clinics. The researchers focused on three areas: the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on clinical signs of osteoarthritis in dogs; the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on weight bearing in dogs with the disease; and the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) dosage in dogs with osteoarthritis.

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, Hahn said.

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.

These studies show that omega-3 fatty acids provide pain relief and improve mobility in dogs with osteoarthritis. They also indicate that proper use of a food containing a sufficient amount of omega-3 fatty acids may result in a lower dosage of medication required to manage joint pain and improve mobility in a dog with osteoarthritis. 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.

"First and foremost, dog owners should always rely on their veterinarian when making decisions regarding their pet's health," Hahn said. "But it's also very important for dog owners to know that osteoarthritis can be a silent and unrecognized problem that affects both the pet's and the owner's quality of life. With proper nutritional intervention, we can enrich and lengthen that special relationship between people and their pets."

The AVMA and its more than 80,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of activities dedicated to advancing the science and art of animal, human and public health. Visit the AVMA Web site at to learn more about veterinary medicine and animal care.

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