Fatty acids have been used for years to promote a healthy, shiny coat in dogs. More recently, veterinarians have discovered that fatty acids serve many other roles such as controlling inflammation and supporting joint health.
Dogs can produce some fatty acids but not others. The fatty acids that a dog needs but cannot produce are known as essential fatty acids. They are needed for different functions in the body, so they need to be obtained through the diet.
Essential Fatty Acids for dogs include omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids.
Key omega 3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Essential omega 6 fatty acids include linoleic acid (LA), gamma linolenic acid (GLA), dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) and arachidonic acid (AA).
How Do Fatty Acids Supplements Promote Joint Health?
The fatty acids AA and DHA can be taken up and incorporated into cell membranes in the body. When there is an injury resulting in damage to cell membranes, these acids are released into the surrounding fluid.
Enzymes in the fluid metabolize AA to produce inflammatory substances. This is useful in combating an infection but is not as beneficial for joint health. DHA is also released from damaged cell membranes and competes with AA for the same metabolic enzymes.
When enzymes metabolize DHA, the end product does not promote inflammation, so DHA helps reduce the inflammatory response.
If DGLA is present, it will also compete for the metabolic enzymes thus inhibiting formation of inflammatory substances. DGLA also triggers release of prostaglandin, which blocks the release of AA from damaged cell membranes and helps speed recovery from injury.
Because of these processes, supplementing your dog’s diet with EPA, DHA and DGLA may help reduce inflammation associated with joint problems.
Which Fatty Acid Supplements are Best for Dogs With Joint Problems?
When you are considering a fatty acid supplement to help your dog deal with arthritis or injuries affecting the joints, you need to evaluate the types and ratio of fatty acids.
To help lessen the pain and inflammation that results from joint problems, you will want a higher ratio of omega 3 fatty acids in your supplement.
There are good options from a number of different sources that can provide your dog with higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids.
Flaxseed Oil for Dogs
As a result, it is useful for supporting both joint health and the body’s ability to heal after an injury.
Some products that contain flaxseed The Missing Link Plus Canine Formula With Joint Support and Omega 3-6-9 by VitaPetLife These nutritional supplements include flaxseed to provide the fatty acids dogs need for joint health.
They are both in powder form and can be added directly to your dog’s food according to package instructions.
Each of these products has a very high fiber content, so the manufacturers recommend starting with small amounts and gradually adding more each day over the course of about two weeks to reach the proper dose for your dog’s weight.
Cod Liver Oil
Cod is an oily fish known to have high levels of EPA and DHA. Fish oil for dogs from cod also contains vitamins A and D which are needed for multiple processes in the body.
Vitamin A helps support the immune system, and Vitamin D promotes healthy bones and joints. Vetzyme Pure Cod Liver Oil is formulated for dogs and it comes in a liquid that can be poured over your pets food. Be sure to follow package dosing instructions to ensure safe and effective levels for your dog.
In addition to cod liver oil, there are many other quality fish oil supplements that you can give to your dog. The best fish oil supplements come from fresh water oily fish because they have higher concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids.
Omegease is a popular supplement that contains pharmaceutical grade fish oil from Wild Sardines, Herrring, Anchovies and Mackerel. It comes as a liquid in a pump bottle ready to poor over food.
The package includes dosing directions so you can ensure your dog is getting the proper amount.
Green Lipped Mussel
Another source of fatty acids that help manage joint problems is mussel for dogs. The New Zealand green lipped mussel contains high levels of EPA and DHA along with other nutrients that have anti-inflammatory effects.
Glycoflex III is a supplement that includes a potent dose of green lipped mussel in their ingredient list along with Glucosamine and MSM. It is available in flavored soft chews and chewable tablets that are easy to give to your dog as a treat. You can choose the form that is most suitable to you and your dog. Each product contains dosing instructions with the package.
Krill oil has been gaining in popularity as an omega fatty acid supplement for people and dogs. Krill is a tiny sea animal that closely resembles shrimp and has concentrations of fatty acids in the body that are similar to the makeup of fish oil.
Krill oil for dogs is rich in EPA and DHA, and it also contains a substance called astaxanthin which is an antioxidant.
An excellent source of Krill oil for your dog is Zesty Paws Krill Bites. They also include DHA-rich algae and organic hemp.
We know that olive oil is considered a good source of healthy fatty acids for people, so you may consider the benefits of olive oil for dogs. Olive oil does not have the same levels of essential fatty acids for dogs that you can find in fish oil, however it is rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants.
Olive oil can help increase blood flow and reduce the advance of degeneration associated with aging. If you want to supplement your dog’s diet with olive oil, use unflavored extra virgin olive oil for dogs and add it to your dog’s food two to three times a week.
For smaller dogs, you can use 1/4 teaspoon and up to a full teaspoon for larger dogs. For the potent anti-inflammatory action of omega 3 fatty acids, choose one of the options above instead of olive oil.
Which Will You Choose?
When looking for the best fatty acid supplement for your dog, you need to evaluate the source and composition of the fatty acids.
To help manage joint problems associated with injury or aging, you will want a supplement that contains the omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA to provide anti-inflammatory effects and speed the repair process.
There are many excellent sources of essential fatty acids available and they can be used in combination. Choose the type and form that best suits you and your dog’s needs.
When you follow dosing instructions, fatty acids can be very effective and safe to use with anti-inflammatory and pain medications.
With continued use, these supplements contribute to joint and body health and may lead to a decreased need for medications.