May 22, 2012 2:32 PM by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP
You may have heard people talking about the benefits of fish oil or flax seed oil. These products contain omega-3 fatty acids, abbreviated EPA and DHA. Animals, including people, dogs, cats and the red meats we eat are made mainly from omega-6 fatty acids. Chemically, these molecules are quite similar, but their actions in the body are quite different. All of our cells have fatty acids in the outer membranes, and when the cells die, these fatty acids are broken down. When omega-6 fatty acids break down, they tend to produce more inflammatory mediators than do omega-3's. If a dog or cat has more omega-3 fatty acids in their cell membranes, they will have less trouble with inflammatory disease processes. This was first demonstrated in pets with skin diseases, especially allergic skin disease. More recently we feel we are seeing benefit with cases of arthritis or musculoskelital inflammation. At Animal Care Clinic, we recommend fish oil supplements for most pets with joint or skin disease.
There a few difficulties with fish oil supplements. They take at least 6-8 weeks to have any effect - your pet basically needs its cells to "made out of" omega-3's that have replaced omega-6's. The effect of the omega-3's is almost never profound enough to be the only treatment needed. They tend to diminish the amount of medications or other treatments that your pet will require. Fish oil and other omega-3 supplements are not considered drugs and are therefore not regulated by the FDA. Labels quite often do not reflect what is really in the product - it is very easy to get ripped off when buying these products. If you feel your pet might benefit from fish oil or need help managing skin disease, arthritis or other issues, give us a call.
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